6th Grade Transition FAQs & Info

Madison City Schools is moving its 6th grade into the middle schools beginning with the 2018-19 school year. It is a massive undertaking - one that a broad-based 6th Grade Transition Committee has been working intently on. This FAQ page addresses many of the Frequently Asked Questions we’ve gotten, and continue to get, as we move forward. Please feel free to use the comment form below for additional questions or comments. Continue scrolling down for the FAQs.


(Last update: March 27, 2018) 


The short answer is it is in the best interest of students. Research increasingly shows students at that stage thrive better when they have more than just two years adjusting to the mix of academic and social experiences they’ll encounter in middle schools as they prepare for the transition to  high school. We are confident that moving 6th grade into the middle schools will benefit our students (for reasons outlined in subsequent FAQs below) while also helping optimize the shrinking space we have in our elementary schools.


Will there be course fees for 6th grade once students are at the middle school?

Will the middle school schedule change with the 6th grade move?

  • The district’s goal is to keep the middle school schedule as it is. There are some state requirements for 6th grade that will likely force some schedule modifications, but the goal is to make as few changes as possible. District and school administration will be working to finalize the bell schedule early in the spring semester.

Will the middle school lose existing electives with the 6th grade move?

  • The district’s goal is to maintain all existing middle school electives. The plan is to actually increase elective offerings with the addition of 6th grade in the middle school. A survey of 1,200 MCS 5th and 6th graders found a strong majority of those students supporting more elective opportunities.

Will 6th grade students only have science and social studies for half-a-year like the middle school curriculum?
        * Yes.

Will 6th grade students still have an opportunity to go to Space Camp and have a 6th grade Field Day?
        * Yes on both accounts.

Will there be continue to be "graduation" ceremonies for 5th graders like there have been for 6th who will be moving up to middle schools.
        * Elementary schools plan to have a special recognition event for their 5th and 6th graders this year who will be moving up to middle schools, and will continue those recognition ceremonies each year for their 5th graders.

Do middle school teachers have planning time?

  • Middle school teachers have a 75-minute planning block daily. Teachers participate in collaborative planning during the 75 minute planning block.  They also participate in professional development. 

Will honors classes be available?
       * Yes, in math and english.  click here for honors curriculum information  

Will 6th grade textbooks be moved to the middle schools?

  • Existing textbooks will move to the middle schools with the 6th grade students.

Will 6th graders be separated from 7th & 8th grade in PE?
        * Staggered dress times are planned to keep 6th graders separate from 7th and 8th graders when dressing out..

PE Uniforms

  • Uniforms are required for Physical Education in middle school and can be purchased through the school for $25. Uniforms can be reused each year while in middle school


Will there be an additional administrator at each middle school once 6th grade moves to the middle school?

  • The district plans to add an administrator to each middle school. This might be an additional assistant principal or an aspiring administrator, which is an educator with an administration certificate who is pursuing an administrative position through the Madison Aspiring Administrator Program (MAAP) within our district.

Will there be an additional counselor at each middle school once 6th grade moves to the middle school?

  • The district plans to add a counselor to each middle school with the addition of 6th grade into the middle school.

My child has an IEP and is pulled out during the day with an inclusion teacher for testing and small group learning. How will that be handled at the middle school?
       * The same. An inclusion teacher at each middle school will offer the same type of programs.

Will Discovery Middle be ready to accept the special needs students?

       * Yes. Construction on the DMS building modifications are on schedule. Layout plans have been shared by the special education department..

Are all 6th grade teachers moving to the middle school?

  • All 6th grade teachers will be considered to move to the middle school.  Preference forms will be sent to teachers in December.  

    • Teachers with grades 4-8 or grades 6-12 certification will be considered to move to the middle school.

    • K-6 certified teachers wanting to move to middle school should take the Praxis for grades 4-8 or grades 6-12 certification with opportunities to take and pass the Praxis through March 2018.

      • The district will need Praxis results by April 6, 2018.

    • Teachers wanting to fill a middle school 6th grade teaching position are not required to obtain K-6 certification.

  • The district is finalizing the elementary teaching staff that will be moving to the middle school.  

    • This will be set pending teachers who take the 4-8 or 6-12 Praxis.  If the Praxis is not passed by April 6, 2018, then the teachers set to move to the middle school will instead remain at the elementary school.

  • Elementary teachers requesting to move to the middle school might be asked to participate in informal interviews as an opportunity to meet the middle school principals.

  • District and middle school administration will potentially visit the classrooms of teachers interested in moving to the middle school.

Can other elementary teachers or high school teachers move to the middle school?

  • Preference forms were sent to all K-6 teachers.  

  • If high school teachers are interested in moving to the middle school, they can indicate that in the annual preference form that is sent out in the spring.   

  • Certification requirements for elementary teachers teaching K-5 who want to move to the middle school will follow the same guidelines listed above for 6th grade teachers wanting to move.


Will extended day be offered for 6th graders at the middle school?

  • Extended Day will not be available at the middle schools.


Will gifted services still be offered to 6th graders as a pullout program once they move to the middle school or will gifted be serviced through honors classes?


How is the district making decisions about this transition?

  • A Middle School Transition Committee was assembled in August.  This committee of over 60 Parents, Principals, Assistant Principals, Teachers, Counselors, Instruction Partners, and District Administration have met twice a month preparing 6th grade transition recommendations for the Superintendent.  The individuals serving on this committee have been divided into the following sub-committees:  Acceleration, Innovation, Curriculum, Assessment, Faculty, Transition, Logistics, Extracurriculars, Behavioral Supports, and Opportunities in Elementary.  The final committee meeting will be January 10 where all sub-committees will share their proposals with the Superintendent. The Board of Education is receiving regular updates from the Instruction team on the status of plans.

How is the district getting input about this transition?

  • Members of the Middle School Transition Committee are providing input on the many areas of support our students, teachers, and parents will need as 6th graders are transitioned to the middle school. Ultimately, this committee will make proposals to the Superintendent. Recommendations by this committee will help guide the district in its decision-making during the transition process.

  • Surveys were available to students and teachers to provide their input on the supports needed for this transition. More than 1,200 MCS 5th and 6th graders responded.

  • Collaboration opportunities began in November between 6th grade teachers and middle school teachers to gather input on supports that need to be in place for this transition.

  • Individuals wanting to provide input on the transition can leave a message for the district office through a link on this page of the Madison City Schools website.

What are the benefits of moving 6th grade to the middle school and is this just a short term fix?

  •  Allowing students adequate time to develop a sense of community and to deepen relationships are just two of the social-emotional advantages for moving 6th grade to the middle school: “Middle-level schools should ‘contain at least three grade levels’ and ‘be structured to create close, sustained relationships between students and teachers’ ” (Essential Elements of Standards-Focused Middle-Level Schools and Programs, 2000).

  • Creating a 6th-8th grade middle school community will provide our students ample time to "grow roots" in a community, to feel safe, and to develop a stronger sense of pride, while also allowing educators to provide an uninterrupted scaffolding of education: “Educators believe that at least three years in one setting helps to increase continuity of program, students affiliation with the school and it’s staff, and a more personalized learning experience” (Toepfer, 1982 and Viadero, 1993).  

  • Limiting the number of transitions that a student must go through in their academic career often results in higher academic achievement and the type of behavior that illustrates belonging: 

    • “More grade levels per building (i.e. fewer transitions to new schools) is related to higher achievement and improved behavior regardless of SES” (Offenberg, 2001; Wren, 2004).

    • “In studies of middle school transitioning, it was found that the most dramatic drop in GPA was for students who experienced a school change between grades 6 and 7” (Mullins and Irvin, 2000).

  • Moving 6th grade to the middle school provides academic advantages for students with acceleration and elective course opportunities: “Sixth graders in middle school have greater access to extracurricular activities […] and innovative programs” (Public School Review, 2008).

  • For teachers, vertical alignment and collaboration automatically increase when more grade levels are in the same building because conversations naturally occur in formal and informal settings, thus benefiting all students: "Sustained teacher collaboration [...] is the primary vehicle for continuous improvement of teacher practice, for sharing accountability, and collective responsibility" (Killion, 2015).

Will parents and students have the opportunity to visit the school, meet the administration, meet the teachers, etc. prior to the first day of school?

  • Yes.  

  • Schools will host Parent Transition / Curriculum Meetings in the spring.  

  • Students will visit the middle school in the spring.  

  • Schools will provide opportunities for parents and students to visit the school over the summer.

  • Schools will host an Open House prior to the first day of school.

Will there be a separate school bus for 6th graders or will it be shared with middle school students.

       * Shared.

Can a student remain in elementary instead of moving to the middle school as a 6th grader?

  • The district will continue to follow our existing retention procedures. 


What are the procedures for cell phones and other electronic devices?


What are the expectations for dress code?


Will 6th grade students have lockers?

        * There are enough lockers in the building for all students to have one, Schools determine the locker policy..

Are special backpacks required for middle school?

  • There are no special requirements for backpacks in middle school. Students are allowed to use rolling backpacks.  Students can carry their backpacks to class..  


How are grades reported for middle school?

  • For middle school, grades are broken down as 60% for tests, projects, etc. and 40% for daily grades such as homework. When 6th grade moves to the middle school, their grade calculations will follow the same procedures with 60% for test grades and 40% for daily grades.  


Will portables be needed with transitioning 6th grade to the middle school?

  • At this time, portables will not be needed on middle school campuses due to moving 6th grade to the middle school.  Each middle school has a capacity of approximately 1400 students, and the student population grades 6 through 8 will not put middle schools over capacity.


What are the physical changes that will be taking place at Liberty?
        * A 16-classroom wing is being added to the existing southeast side. The lower floor of this addition will be a designated storm shelter. The cafeteria will be expanded by 3,070 square feet to accommodate growth. The gym will also be expanded to include visitors bleachers on the north side. The home side will also get new bleachers.

Does Discovery Middle need any special modifications to accommodate the 6th grade move into middle schools.?

         * The main renovations at DMS are the expansion of the cafeteria and the addition of DD classrooms for special education students. DMS doesn't need as much physical expansion at Liberty Middle because it previously was a high school and built to larger standards.

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