Tonight, President Obama will deliver his final State of the Union address to the American people.

In addition to his accomplishments and policy agenda, the President will focus on “…what we all need to do in the years to come. The big things that will guarantee an even stronger, better, ┬ámore prosperous America for our kids.”

One “big thing” he should highlight? The importance of college and career preparation in the middle grades.

The middle grades may not be as trendy a topic as universal preschool or more affordable higher education. Those are both worthy goals but, terms of impact, few education policy areas offer a larger return on investment. Relatively small investments in student development during the critical middle grade years can significantly reduce dropouts, increase postseason enrollment, and increase students’ social-emotional skills.

We urge the President to use the State of the Union, and his remaining time in office, to advocate for more attention and local resources dedicated to support middle grade students’ development.


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