The George W. Bush Institute has introduced its second big education initiative, a program that seeks to improve graduation rates by focusing on middle schools.

Former first lady Laura Bush announced the initiative, called “Middle School Matters,” at Stovall Middle School in the Aldine Independent School District on Feb. 9. She said research has shown that middle school—and sixth through eighth grade in particular—is a crucial time in determining future success.

“We know now from research that a lot of kids that drop out in high school really drop out in middle school. They just leave in high school,” she said. “One...

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