It is midnight, and with tired hands and heavy eyes, Grade 9 students are hunched over their laptops and textbooks. The pressure to have a high GPA outweighs the need for sleep and begs the question: has middle school prepared us for high school?
According to a survey conducted by The Standard Dec. 2-3, only 37% of 46 returning Grade 9 students feel that Middle School prepared them sufficiently for the increased homework load incorporated into High School classes.
As a former middle school student, I remember being assigned larger amounts of homework at a slower and easier rate, whereas the High School jumped straight into assessments and heaps of homework. This, combined with the added pressure that comes with high school to achieve desired grades for college, sent me into a spiral of stress and procrastination barely a couple of weeks into the school year.
Many respondents agreed with the claim that transitioning from the Middle School to the High School was difficult.
One student wrote, “I don’t think [the Middle School] prepares us for the amount of homework and being able to deal with that … The beginning of high school was very hard.”
Furthermore, during my two years of attending middle school at ASL, we underwent two major lockdowns and a couple of mini-grade level quarantines. As a result, we weren’t assigned any homework during the last lockdown, which was unfortunately the semester before we started high school. This adaptation hindered time management skills and the ability to balance homework with social life and extracurriculars.
According to one student, the Middle School should gradually assign more homework and concentrate on developing the ability to balance work with school commitments, like sports. I agree with this idea since entering Grade 9 with the ability to balance the increased workload with extracurriculars would have significantly increased my involvement in clubs and other activities at the start of the year.
Additionally, only 34.8% of 46 returning Grade 9 students feel equipped for more challenging classes.
While it is expected that classes increase in difficulty as we grow older, a staggering 74.4% of 46 returning Grade 9 students feel they are least prepared for Science 9, among other classes. After conversing with several Grade 10 students and upperclassmen, this struggle appears to be common among the student body; many also struggled in Science 9.
For me, Science 9 was also a difficult transition. The curriculum moves through complex topics at a much faster rate than we did in Grade 8 science, thus making it hard to keep up and stay on top of the class expectations, other homework and extra commitments.
Reflecting on the end of my first semester as a Grade 9 student, I find myself wondering why we weren’t exposed to the multitude of end-of-semester assessments and finals with which we were faced at the culmination of the first semester.
Although we did have end-of-semester assessments in Middle School, much more time was allotted than in our High School schedules to prepare for them.
It goes without saying that high school grades are more consequential than middle school grades, but how should we be expected to adapt to the pressures of assessment week if we’ve never been exposed to similar expectations in Middle School?
Without the school’s intervention, common sentiments of uncertainty and anxiousness will only grow in prevalence.
The amount of homework given in Middle School needs to be steadily increased to prepare students for High School when they begin to balance different obligations.
For instance, by slowly limiting the number of retakes allowed in Grade 8, students will alter their study habits to be more prepared for assessments rather than relying on retakes.
While I recognize that middle school students should not experience any premature or unnecessary stress, it is crucial that they are prepared for their high school years when their grades matter more.
If rising Grade 9 students feel prepared for their classes, they will be able to enter their first semester of high school with more confidence and a better understanding of the expectations for the coming years.