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>After two decades of easing up on 7th-graders academically so that they
>can better adjust to the emotional and social changes in their lives,
>educators have decided they've gone too far. Middle-school educators have
>decided they can push 7th-graders academically without upsetting their
>emotional development.
...
> 

I did some student teaching in a middle school where the eighth grade was
considered a black hole where hormones trumped academics. Academic
expectations, particularly in mathematics, were very low. Unfortunately I
can't say they were doing much at the time for students' social and
personal development either. No other school where I have either worked or
observed evidenced the sort of imbalance I saw there. My current school
has a stated goal of addressing both academics and personal growth but
allocation of resources, particularly time,  tells the real tale. This
year we increased math instructional time from 240 minutes per week to 265
minutes. This is a direct result of high stakes testing and less than
successful implementation of "standards based" curricula in all grades.

Steve Rack