Teacher and Administrator Perspectives on a Good Middle School: A Cross-Case Study
Mercer, Lisa Skaggs
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Education for adolescents in middle-level schools is a topic of great interest for many educators. Reaching a consensus on what constitutes an effective education for middle-level learners has been a challenge. The purpose of this study was to contribute to this discussion. Although the study was designed to report on effective middle schools, the respondents reported their perspectives on good middle schools. The findings of this study about good middle schools may be beneficial to middle-level educators that are interested in improving educational environments and outcomes for the adolescent learner. A cross-case study methodology was used to investigate the perspectives on a good middle school of teachers and administrators in two middle schools in a school system in a southeastern state. Seventeen face-to-face interviews were conducted with a researcher-developed protocol, and document analyses were conducted. Data were analyzed with the constant comparative method. The perspectives of the participants were organized into ten categories of what they believed constitutes a good middle school: culture, personnel, the needs of diverse adolescent learners, organizational structures, transitions, instructional practices, parental involvement, curricular aspects, physical environment, and progress. The teacher and administrator perspectives on a good middle school were analyzed in three ways: (a) a descriptive analysis of the characteristics of a good middle school as viewed by the teachers and administrators of Dorchester Middle School and J. K. Walters Middle School; (b) a comparison of the characteristics of a good middle school as viewed by teachers and administrators of the two schools and the characteristics of a good middle school as identified by the National Association of Secondary School Principals Council on Middle Level Education in 1985, the Association for Middle Level Education in 2010, and the Carnegie Corporations Council on Adolescent Development in 1989; and (c) a comparison of the characteristics of a good middle school identified by the teachers and administrators of Dorchester Middle School and the characteristics of a good middle school identified by the teachers and administrators of J. K. Walters Middle School (pseudonyms). Middle school educators have struggled with the nature of an appropriate education for middle-level learners for decades. When combined with other studies of the perspectives on middle-level schooling of practicing teachers and administrators, those who work with middle-level learners every day, the data in this study may help in efforts to reach a consensus on the elements that should be a part of a good middle school.
- Doctoral Dissertations 
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