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Middle SchoolSelected Research & Readings (Additional Resources)
 
  MIDDLE SCHOOL
 
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Highlights -- Reading Next: A Vision for Action and Research in Middle and High School Literacy MS Word - This excerpt of a report by the Alliance for Excellent Education offers a great summary of the current literature on middle and high school literacy, and contains concrete recommendations for state and district action. Also included at the bottom of this document is a list of other useful resources on adolescent literacy. (Katy Anthes, Education Commission of the States, November 2004)...

Middle School Poll: Prepared for the National Association of Secondary - Middle school - specifically 7th and 8th grades - is a critical juncture in students’ education. Their current performance and their expectations for the future can have a significant impact on their education in high school and beyond. This study brings the voices of students themselves into the discussion and examines their experiences and views in a number of critical middle school issues, including expectations for high school and views on standardized testing. (Dana Markow, Margot Liebman and Jackie Dunbar, Phi Delta Kappan International, May 2007)...

Should Sixth Grade be in Elementary or Middle School? An Analysis of Grade Configuration and Student Behavior - This paper examines data from public schools in North Carolina to determine the best grade configuration for schools that serve early adolescents, particularly 6th graders. The authors find that 6th grade students attending middle schools were much more likely to be cited for discipline problems than those attending elementary school, even after adjusting for socioeconomic and demographic characteristics. The effects were found to persist at least through 9th grade. (Phillip J. Cook, Robert MacCoun, Clara Muschkin and Jacob Vigdor, Terry Sanford Institute of Public Policy at Duke University, February 2007) ...

Preparation Gap: Teacher Education for Middle School Mathematics in Six Countries - This report explores the results of a study of the mathematics content knowledge and pedagogy knowledge of students at the end of their teacher education programs in six countries: Korea, Taiwan, Bulgaria, Germany, Mexico and the United States. The results show important differences between students among the countries in terms of their knowledge of mathematics content as well as their knowledge of mathematics pedagogy. (Michigan State University Center for Research in Mathematics and Science Education, 2007)...

Caught Between the Lines: South Carolina's Students in the Middle - This report profiles middle grades students in South Carolina, with sections discussing: (1) student demographics and health, (2) outside influences, (3) middle schools in South Carolina and (4) performance. (South Carolina Education Oversight Commission, March 2006)...

Implementing School Reform: Making Middle Grades Work (MMGW) for All Students - MMGW is a network of schools, districts and states committed to implementing 10 essential elements in a comprehensive improvement framework. The elements focus on a rigorous and challenging academic core curriculum for all students, and on the teaching and learning conditions that support continuous improvement in student achievement. This report compares 28 high- and low-implementation schools and found that students at middle schools that more fully implement the MMGW design have higher student achievement than those at schools that do not fully implement the design. Also available online is a brochure detailing the essential elements and other components of the framework. (Sondra Cooney and Beth Lasater, Southern Regional Education Board, March 2006)...

Breaking Ranks in the Middle: Strategies for Leading Middle Level Reform - This report details nine cornerstone strategies and 30 specific recommendations for improving student achievement. It includes four full-length profiles and a number of vignettes of schools that put the report’s recommendations into action. The nine strategies are concentrated in three key areas: (1) collaborative leadership, professional learning communities and the strategic use of data; (2) personalizing the school environment; and (3) creating rigorous student-centered curriculum, instruction and assessment. The executive summary is available free online. (National Association of Secondary School Principals, 2006)...

Mayhem in the Middle: How Middle Schools Have Failed America — And How To Make Them Work - Highlighting the declining academic achievement of U.S. students between the 4th and 8th grades, this paper argues that, "middle schoolism must end." Included are chapters on the history of the middle school concept in the United States and case studies of three K-8 schools. Starting on page 46, the author lists recommendations to improve academic achievement for children in the middle school years. (Cheri Pierson Yecke, Thomas B. Fordham Institute, September 2005)...

College Readiness Begins in Middle School - This study – reporting findings from a survey and focus group discussion with middle and high school students from 15 schools in six districts – examines the extent of early exploration and planning in certain college readiness areas and explores how parents, school staff and school experiences help students with their early educational planning. The authors recommend that college readiness begin in middle school and that schools should (1) explain to students and their parents the effects of taking a challenging curriculum on their future educational, career and income options; (2) use multiple sources of information, including standardized assessments, to help inform students and their parents of the student's progress toward college readiness; and (3) work with families to calculate college costs and develop a plan to meet those costs. (George L. Wimberly and Richard J. Noeth, ACT, Inc., 2005)...

The Middle Grades: Putting All Students on Track for College - This paper argues that middle grades educators should be concerned about preparing students for postsecondary opportunities. The author provides (1) reasons why the middle grades are so critical to postsecondary preparation, (2) background on the opportunity gap that exists for underserved students, (3) examples of effective policies and what works and (4) recommendations for building school capacity to increase student performance for college access. Among the recommendations to increase capacity are focusing on P-16 alignment and program coherence, providing collaborative structures and supporting professional development. (Sharon J. Camblin, Pacific Resources for Education and Learning, May 2003)...

K-8 Schools May Help School Districts Improve Student Performance - This concise report examines the extent to which school districts across the country have moved from a middle school configuration to K-8 schools, the reasons for these shifts, the evidence that K-8 schools promote student success, and lessons learned from other states’ experience in middle grades configurations. While nationwide data on middle grade configurations is scarce, the past decade has seen several large districts shift to K-8 configurations, all citing student performance as the cause. More research is needed since the evaluations “did not take into consideration other factors that influence student success,” such as teacher and facility quality, community and parental involvement, among others. (Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability, Florida Legislature, January 2005)...

Works in Progress: A Report on Middle and High School Improvement Programs - This study identifies key issues at the secondary level, summarizes the main challenges within the issue, and concisely presents research-based programs addressing the issue. Middle level issues include: (1) Transition from elementary to middle school; (2) Literacy and reading; (3) English language learners; (4) Violence and bullying; (5) Alcohol, tobacco and other drugs; (6) Parental involvement; and (7) Transition to high school. High school issues are: (1) Literacy and reading; (2) English language learners; (3) Dropouts; (4) Violence; (5) Alcohol, tobacco and other drugs; and (6) Transition from high school to a postsecondary setting. (The Comprehensive School Reform Quality Center, January 2005)...

Focus on the Wonder Years - Young teens undergo multiple physical, social-emotional and intellectual changes during the middle school years, making the schools they attend critical in shaping their futures. U.S. middle schools have been blamed for increases in behavior problems, teen alienation, disengagement from school and low achievement, all of which can persist into high school and beyond. This paper’s recommendations include considering alternatives to the classic 6-8 grade middle school, offering interventions to the lowest-performing students to lessen achievement gaps and establishing a research program to learn how other countries successfully promote student well-being and foster positive school climates in a manner that supports academic achievement in schools that serve young teens. A summary of the report is also available. (Janna Juvonen, Vi-Nhuan Le, Tessa Kaganoff, Catherine Augustine and Louay Constant, RAND, 2004)...

Standards-based Middle Grades Reform in Six Urban Districts, 1995-2001 - This report outlines the experiences and lessons learned in six urban districts – Chattanooga, Corpus Christi, Long Beach, Louisville, Minneapolis and San Diego – participating in a reform program that anticipated No Child Left Behind in several aspects, including requiring assessments, setting performance goals, identifying low-performing schools and more. One finding: while the foundation relentlessly attempted to communicate to the districts that higher test scores could best be achieved through solid instruction, and that such instruction could be delivered only as part of fundamental school reform, the districts demonstrated varying abilities to align their actions with this. (Anne Mackinnon, The Edna McConnell Clark Foundation, 2003)...

Maturing Investments: Philanthropy and Middle Grades Reform - The authors examine the background, goals, structure and outcomes of four now-concluded major middle grades reform projects funded by the Lilly, Carnegie, Clark and Kellogg foundations, as well as smaller middle grades initiatives funded by a wide spectrum of philanthropies. Kronley and Handley draw nine findings from the experiences of these funders, and propose future middle grades reform projects that could build upon the progress made through these trailblazing programs. (Robert A. Kronley and Claire Handley, Grantmakers for Education, April 2003)...

Improving the Middle Grades: Actions That Can Be Taken Now - The authors of this report describe six steps that states can take immediately to strengthen middle grades education: (1) set out to prepare students for challenging work in high school, (2) define what students need to know and be able to do to be ready for high school, (3) set high but reasonable standards for student performance, (4) provide lagging students with extra time and help, (5) get more good principals by changing the focus of existing principal preparation programs and (6) get more good teachers by changing licensure rules to require all middle grades teachers to have a solid grounding in the subjects they will teach. (Gene Bottoms, Sondra Cooney and Kathleen Carpenter, Southern Regional Education Board, February 2003)...

Teacher Preparation, Licensure and Recruitment - This issue of Policy Statement makes the case that the specialized middle grades teacher preparation and licensure recommended by various education organizations are needed to guarantee excellent instruction for early adolescent students. It suggests steps to ensure quality teaching at the middle grades level and proposes essential components of middle grades teacher preparation programs. (The National Forum to Accelerate Middle-Grades Reform, Issue 2, April 2002)...

Academic Achievement in the Middle Grades: What Does Research Tell Us? - This literature review from the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) assesses the state of middle grades education that led to reform. This review found that best practices for promoting achievement in the middle grades include providing an accelerated and rich core curriculum, setting high expectations and creating a supportive climate of encouragement, grouping students to help them connect what they are learning across the curriculum and assigning highly qualified teachers to every classroom. (Rafael Heller, Sarah Calderon, Elliott Medrich, Gene Bottoms, Sondra Cooney and Caro Feagin, SREB, December 2002)...

Middle School Practices Improve Student Achievement in High Poverty Schools - The purpose of this study is to establish a relationship between team and classroom practices and student achievement as measured by standardized test scores. The authors find that income level of student families is the predominant influence on student achievement, but that schools can ameliorate this through several combined factors: (1) implementation of interdisciplinary teaming and common planning time; (2) higher levels of team and classroom practices; and (3) sustained engagement in teaming by teachers. (Steven B. Mertens and Nancy Flowers, Middle School Journal, September 2003)...

Shooting for the Sun: The Message of Middle School Reform - This collection of speeches and essays discusses the challenges that teachers and principals face in their work to improve student achievement in grades 6, 7 and 8. The author also offers suggestions on how schools can more effectively educate our nation's youth and improve student academic performance in the middle grades. (M. Hayes Mizell, Edna McConnell Clark Foundation, 2002)...

Supporting Students in Their Transition to Middle School - The transition from elementary to middle school evokes a wide variety of emotions, behaviors and concerns for both young adolescents and their parents. A position paper jointly adopted by the National Middle School Association (NMSA) and the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) discusses how to develop transition plans that restore to middle school students the same sense of belonging that they felt in elementary school. (NMSA and NAESP, March 2002)...

Opportunities and Accountability To Leave No Child Behind in the Middle Grades - This report analyzes the impact the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, which was signed into law by President Bush on January 8, 2002, will have on our nation's education system. In particular, the report focuses on the opportunities and challenges that middle schools will be facing, in light of this new legislation, to improve the learning environment for their students. (Cynthia G. Brown, Edna McConnell Clark Foundation, March 2002)...

Powerful Ideas, Modest Gains: Five Years of Systemic Reform in Philadelphia Middle Schools - This report examines the instructional practices and outcomes of Philadelphia middle schools as they underwent increased public scrutiny, new assessments, development of new curricula, new demands for professional development, new work arrangements and new procedures for obtaining support services for students. A major problem cited was lack of guidance in curriculum and pedagogy resulting in test preparation that was not aligned with state standards. The report suggests a number of steps for improving Philadelphia’s middle schools, as well as suggestions for district and school staff. (Jolley Bruce Christman, Research for Action, Consortium for Policy Research in Education, December 2001)...

Middle Grades Education Initiative: A Collection of Four Reports MS Word - The publications in this collection are part of SREB’s Middle Grades Education Initiative, and cover issues related to student performance and teacher quality. SREB's Web site contains more information about the initiative....

The Middle Level: More Than Treading Water MS Word - Although educators have worked diligently to incorporate the principles of good middle grades education into institutions, many parents are concerned that middle schools have been so focused on the developmental needs of adolescents that they have made academics secondary. For a number of years, these parents have been complaining to principals, school board members and legislators that this is unacceptable. This Kappan article provides a concise overview of the challenges faced by states and parents and describes initiatives taken in several states to enhance middle school education. (Kathy Christie, “Stateline,” Phi Delta Kappan, June 1, 2001. Reprinted with permission.) ...

Middle Grades Reform: A Kappan Special Report - This special report includes articles on important developments in the reform and visions for middle schools, various reform strategies and middle schools to watch, as well as an interview with the co-author of Turning Points 2000: Educating Adolescents in the 21st Century. (John Norton and Anne C. Lewis, Phi Delta Kappan, June 2000)...

State Policies To Support Middle School Reform: A Guide For Policymakers - This guide describes what state policymakers, as well as teachers, principals, parents, central office administrators and school board members can do to support and encourage the fundamental restructuring of the education of young adolescents (ages 10-15) in the middle grades. Its framework is based on the eight principles for restructuring middle grade education originally put forth by Turning Points: Preparing American Youth for the 21st Century, the 1989 report of the Carnegie Corporation Task Force on Education of Young Adolescents. (Council of Chief State School Officers, 1998) ...

A Middle Grades Message: A Well-Qualified Teacher in Every Classroom Matters - Are middle grades teachers prepared to teach the depth of content necessary to prepare students for high school in the 21st Century? This report addresses that question and includes a rating instrument that states and districts can use to gauge their commitment to having a well-qualified teacher in every middle grade classroom. (Sondra Cooney, Southern Regional Education Board, 2000)...

Lessons Learned for Improving Student Achievement - This slide presentation suggests that middle schools learn from the lessons learned by high schools on how to improve student achievement by giving more students access to an advantaged academic core. The project conducted a broad survey of middle school faculty. The findings and recommendations are an invaluable resource for those struggling to improve middle grades education. (Gene Bottoms, Southern Regional Education Board, 2000 Middle Grades Pre-Conference)...

Middle Grades: Feeling the Squeeze - This special report by Education Week explores several issues related to middle grades. The five-part series covers such topics as improving performance, strengthening teacher training, creating challenging curricula, strategies for success, and the distractions and developments during adolescence. (Education Week, October 2000)...


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