Middle School vs Junior High

Earlier, we posted a link from a site that used Middle School and Junior High interchangeably. (I’m sure that this is a topic that we’ll explore from time to time). It brings up the debate about what Middle School really is. Unfortunately, many people really don’t understand what middle school is. Even people who claim to know, people who have been around a “middle school” for years may not really understand what it is. I personally have talked to several teachers who have been teaching at a “middle school” for many years, yet even they don’t understand what it really is. For parents, the difference between middle school and junior high is even tougher. After listening to some parents the other day, here is what they perceive the difference to be: (ready?) Middle school starts in 6th grade, Junior High starts in 7th. Seriously. How badly have we communicated what middle school is when that’s what parents take away from the conversation?
In another discussion, several teachers (all of whom who reported teaching at a middle school) essentially stated that the difference was that they get two prep periods.
What’s your take?