Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Perspectives on middle school: A case study on the rise and fall of the middle school model in West Aurora
by Scalia, Greg A., Ed.D., Northern Illinois University, 2011, 131; 3457806
Abstract (Summary)

The middle school model has been in existence for over thirty years in American education. Despite the numerous challenges at the primary and secondary levels, the current state of middle school is an area that has not been fully explored. This study focused on the implementation and sustainability of the six components of the middle school model in one large unit school district. The six components are teaming; common plan time; interdisciplinary units of instruction; flexible student scheduling; advisory; and exploratory courses. The purpose of this study was to tell the story of the implementation, progression, and dismantling of the six components of the middle school model from the perspectives of teachers and administrators.

The literature review explored the historical development of middle school, research studies that focused on its six components, the characteristics and behaviors of middle school students and teachers, and the impact of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) legislation on middle school practices.

A qualitative case study approach was used to examine the challenges that exist in terms of maintaining and sustaining the middle school model in today's educational climate. Data was collected from eight teacher interviews, two administrator interviews and the analysis of source documents. The triangulation of these three sources of data told a story of the factors leading to the progression and descent of the six middle school components.

Findings of this study revealed that four factors led to the rise of the middle school model: (1) common vision, (2) concerns about academic progress, (3) nearby neighborhood trends, and (4) money. Other factors deterred the progression of the six components of the middle school model. These factors included: (1) money (2) lack of shared understanding and commitment (3) lack of accountability, and (4) NCLB. Interviewees indicated that despite the numerous hours of teacher in-service, transition committees, multi-million dollar land developments, two new middle schools, and community approval the middle school model in West Aurora had a nominal existence.

This study indicated that academic skills took precedence over social and emotional needs of students after the adoption of the NCLB legislation. This prompted administrators to introduce a different set of values that centered on academic achievement, assessment, and accountability.

While this qualitative study focused on the perceptions of middle school teachers and administrators, future studies should re-evaluate the six middle school components under the requirements of today's standards-based curriculum. These components need to be redefined to support the academic expectations of current legislation and the quantitative approach that is used to measure student success.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Hunt, Donald, Shimizu, Hidetada
Commitee: Eagle, Sherry, Howell, Charles, O'Neil, Linda
School: Northern Illinois University
Department: Leadership, Educational Psychology and Foundations
School Location: United States -- Illinois
Source: DAI-A 72/08, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Middle School education, School administration
Keywords: Administrator perspective, Case study, Illinois, Leadership, Middle school, Middle school model, Qualitative, Teacher perspective, West Aurora
Publication Number: 3457806
ISBN: 9781124688756
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