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Laura Bush Thinks "Middle School Matters" and She's Right

The Former First Lady wants to stop the nation's dropout crisis before kids even get to high school. The research backs her idea up.


Could the nation's dropout crisis be fixed before students even enter high school? Former First Lady Laura Bush believes it's possible. She's heading to Houston today to announce her new education initiative for the George W. Bush Institute, "Middle School Matters." The program will focus on increasing high school graduation rates by ensuring students get the academic foundation they need in 6th through 8th grade.

According to Bush, "Middle school is the last and best chance to prepare students for a successful high school career." Indeed, research shows that students who are going to drop out can be identified as early as 6th grade—they're the kids who are significantly below grade level in reading and math and frequently absent. If those students can be identified, and if focused interventions can be implemented, they can catch up and be on the right track by the time they hit ninth grade.

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Poking Holes in Obama's Praise of Denver's Bruce Randolph School

The school is graduating 97 percent of seniors, but how many students drop out senior year?


In this week's State of the Union address, President Obama praised Denver's Bruce Randolph Middle and High School as a model of education reform that works. Last year the campus, which was taken over by its teachers, graduated 97 percent of seniors despite being located in a low-income, urban area—something most similar high schools have yet to achieve. But is Bruce Randolph's success all that it's cracked up to be?

Mike Cohen, the head of the advocacy group Achieve, Inc., says that although that graduation rate is worthy of praise, there's a another data point the public needs to know.

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