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The Middle School Grades Matter

Last updated November 7, 2023

The Middle School Grades Matter

Do middle school grades matter? Yes, it's true! They don’t count towards high school/ college credits, but they count in other ways. Our friends at Attendance Works share why middle schoolers should care about their grades and GPA.

Three students sitting at their desks, focused on an assignment or exam

Students’ middle school grades are a crucial point of intervention 

Students show considerable growth and declines in grades between sixth and eighth grade, and these changes can have strong implications for high school grades.

Students need very high grades in middle school to improve the likelihood of earning high grades in high school. In fact, only those students who leave eighth grade with GPAs of at least 3.0 have even a moderate chance of earning a 3.0 GPA in high school, the threshold for being considered college-bound. A 3.5 middle school GPA was found to give students about a 50 percent chance of college success. But grades can and do improve in middle school—with real payoffs. For example, a one-point difference in GPAs in eighth grade corresponds to a 20 percentage point difference in the likelihood of passing ninth-grade math.

Whether students are “ready” for high school depends not only on their academic performance in the middle school grades but also on the context that they enter into in ninth grade

Students with the same academic records in middle school often have different high school outcomes depending on which high school they attend. Furthermore, many students leave the middle grades looking like they are prepared to do well in high school only to see their grades and attendance drop dramatically in ninth grade, putting them at risk of not graduating or not being ready for college. In fact, only about half of students exceeding the state standards on tests and earning a 3.5 GPA in eighth grade earned at least a 3.0 GPA in high school. When students get mostly As and exceed testing standards in eighth grade, and then get Cs or lower in ninth grade, it suggests the problem with low grades has at least as much to do with the high school context as with students’ preparation. This highlights the need for monitoring students’ academic performance closely during the ninth grade year, to make sure they are performing up to their potential, as well as working to improve their attendance and grades before high school.

Well there you have it, proof that grades do matter in middle school! For the rest of the article and to find more facts about middle schoolers and grades, head over to Attendance Works

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