Facing a steady decline in student performance through the middle grades and pressure to combat that decline, the city is seeking an outside firm to help it devise a new "middle school strategy," The Post has learned.
The strategy would look at everything from "school design" to staff experience and per-pupil spending, to determine why students score lower on tests as they get older.
While 61.5 percent of city third-graders were proficient in reading and 75.3 percent proficient in math last year, the percentages fell to 36.6 and 38.9 percent by eighth grade. The pattern reflected a nationwide trend.
The school plan was outlined in a recently issued Department of Education document seeking firms interested in tackling the task, and obtained by The Post. Applications are due next week.
Among the objectives detailed in the document are:
* Understanding whether schools with different grade configurations - like K-8 or 6-12 or 6-8 - have different levels of decline.
* Determining if the slump is concentrated in specific socio-economic and geographic areas of the city.
* Identifying "over-achieving" and "under-achieving" middle schools and pinpointing differences between them.
The document's quiet release comes as a City Council-appointed task force on middle schools is devising its own recommendations to combat the crisis, suggestions the DOE has agreed to consider.