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(1) A school with middle grades must have an education program aligned to the program area standards that enables all students to meet the content and performance standards.

(2) In order to receive funding at the high school rate for grades 7 and 8, the program must follow either the middle school philosophy and components described in (3) or the departmentalized philosophy and components (often seen in junior high settings) described in (4).

(3) An officially recognized middle school must be approved by the Board of Public Education upon recommendation of the Superintendent of Public Instruction.

(a) A middle school specifically addresses the unique nature of middle-grade children by focusing on their intellectual, social, emotional, and physical development. To put such philosophy into practice, a middle school must have flexibility to:

(i) approach instruction, scheduling, and teaching in a variety of ways;

(ii) undertake interdisciplinary work; and

(iii) plan blocks of coursework deriving from the intellectual, social, emotional, and physical needs of middle school students.

(b) Critical and creative thinking, career awareness, lifelong learning, and safety must be incorporated in the school program.

(c) At a minimum, the following program areas shall be required of all students yearly:

(i) communication arts including, but not limited to literature, reading, writing, speaking and listening, media literacy;

(ii) mathematics including, but not limited to written and mental computation and problem solving;

(iii) physical and life sciences;

(iv) social studies; and

(v) health enhancement.

(d) At a minimum, the middle school curriculum shall maintain in balance the following required program areas:

(i) visual arts including, but not limited to art history, art criticism, aesthetic perception, and production;

(ii) music including, but not limited to general, instrumental, and vocal (emphasizing comprehensive music elements, music history, criticism, aesthetic perception, and musical production);

(iii) vocational technical education such as agriculture, business education, family and consumer sciences, industrial arts, and marketing; and

(iv) world languages.

(e) Exploratory courses such as creative writing, dance, drama, photography, and leadership shall be offered as electives to all students.

(4) A junior high or 7-8 school for middle grades must offer an educational program, aligned to the program area standards, that enables all students to meet the content and performance standards. The educational program shall be designed to familiarize students with the high school setting and provide content-specific instruction.

(a) All students shall complete the following program areas each year:

(i) communication arts--1 unit;

(ii) social studies--1 unit;

(iii) mathematics--1 unit;

(iv) science--1 unit; and

(v) health enhancement--1/2 unit.

(b) All students must be allowed to elect from the following program area offerings:

(i) visual arts--1/2 unit;

(ii) music--1/2 unit;

(iii) vocational technical education--1/2 unit; and

(iv) world languages--1/2 unit.

(c) A unit is defined as the equivalent of at least 225 minutes per week for one school year.

(d) Time to pass between classes may be counted toward the standard school day but shall not be counted toward class time.

History: Sec. 20-2-114, MCA; IMP, Sec. 20-2-121, 20-3-106, 20-7-101, MCA; NEW, 1989 MAR p. 342, Eff. 7/1/89; AMD, 1998 MAR p. 2707, Eff. 10/9/98; AMD, 2000 MAR p. 3340, Eff. 12/8/00.

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