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middle school students research paper

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Animal Adaptations Research Project for Middle School

Animal Adaptations Research Project for Middle School

Super Sass and Science Class

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Research Paper Writing Editable Flip Book for Middle School and High School

Research Paper Writing Editable Flip Book for Middle School and High School

Danielle Knight

Real World Robot Research Project for Middle School Robotics and STEM Sub Plans

STEM in the Middle

Also included in:  Middle School Robotics Unit - Lessons, Activities, and Worksheets

Holidays Around the World Research Project, Upper Elementary & Middle School

Holidays Around the World Research Project, Upper Elementary & Middle School

L Digital Designs

MUSICIAN BIOGRAPHY Project a Middle School General Music Research Project

Music Room in Bloom

Also included in:  MUSIC RESEARCH PROJECT BUNDLE for Middle School General Music

MUSIC RESEARCH PROJECT BUNDLE for Middle School General Music

MUSIC RESEARCH PROJECT BUNDLE for Middle School General Music

STEM Career Exploration and Research Project {Future Guidance Middle School}

STEM Career Exploration and Research Project {Future Guidance Middle School}

Sockmonkey Science

Music Genre Research Project with Rubrics for Middle & High School General Music

Rivian Creative

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Middle School Research Project - Monsters Through Time (paper + digital)

Middle School Research Project - Monsters Through Time (paper + digital)

Nouvelle ELA

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Leadership Research Project Middle High School ASB Student Council AVID Google

Leadership Research Project Middle High School ASB Student Council AVID Google

Hey Jackie J

Middle School Research Project - Inventions and Innovations STEM Research

High School and Middle School Learning Disabilities Research Project

High School and Middle School Learning Disabilities Research Project

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Research a City- A Fun and Engaging Middle School Research Project

Oh So Simple ELA

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Middle School Research Project - Animals - Printable and Digital

Middle School Research Project - Animals - Printable and Digital

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Career Research Project - Middle School-7th & 8th Grade l Distance Learning

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Middle School Research Paper | True Crime Essay Writing Project

Middle School Research Paper | True Crime Essay Writing Project

Distinguished English

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WORLD MUSIC RESEARCH PROJECT for Middle School General Music

WORLD MUSIC RESEARCH PROJECT for Middle School General Music

INTERVIEW with a MUSICIAN a Middle School Music RESEARCH Project

INTERVIEW with a MUSICIAN a Middle School Music RESEARCH Project

Inside My Computer & Central Processing Unit - Middle School Research Project

Inside My Computer & Central Processing Unit - Middle School Research Project

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Research Paper Digital Writer's Notebook for Middle School ELA

Research Paper Digital Writer's Notebook for Middle School ELA

Read it Write it Learn it

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Research Paper Outline For Upper Elementary and Middle School Students

Research Paper Outline For Upper Elementary and Middle School Students

Omega English

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Sunapee Middle/High School

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Research Paper Steps

middle school students research paper

The research and writing process at Sunapee Middle High School is guided by the following steps.

1. KNOW THE CHARACTERISTICS OF A RESEARCH PAPER The sample middle school research paper  and the sample high school paper can be used to learn about the basic characteristics of a research paper .

2. CREATE A WORKABLE TOPIC WITH RESEARCH QUESTIONS An easy way to shape your topic is to develop a topic in the form of a question. Once you've established your primary research question, your next task is to develop two or three secondary focus questions, as illustrated in these slides , in order to guide your research.

3. USE DIFFERENT TYPES OF INFORMATION SOURCES FOR YOUR RESEARCH You should use a variety of sources when researching , spending most of your time in the library's databases looking at books, magazine articles, and perhaps some professional journal articles . If you use websites, they should be checked for credibility .

4. USE ADVANCED SEARCH OPTIONS FOR DATABASE SEARCHING Unlike Google, databases don't work well with natural language searching. In order to find database sources on your topic, you'll therefore need to develop a list of keywords (search terms) that describe what you're looking for, and then combine them in your searching. Here are two slides that show how to create and combine search terms . You should also use other  advanced search strategies , explained in the two videos below, to further refine your search results.

5. SEARCH APPROPRIATE DATABASES AND KEEP TRACK OF YOUR SOURCES Some of the library's databases are useful for advanced high school research, while others are more appropriate for middle school. The targeted grade levels for each database, which appear on the Databases page of this website, should be used when beginning the search process. As you find helpful information in your search, it's important to keep track of your sources! You should keep a Google Doc with a list of each source’s permalink .

6. ENTER YOUR SOURCES INTO NOODLETOOLS BEFORE TAKING NOTES Before starting to take notes, enter your information sources into a project in your NoodleTools account. The video below shows how to get started, but there's more information on the NoodleTools page  of this website, including how to share your sources and notes with your teacher.

7. CREATE NOTES AND ALIGN THEM WITH YOUR SOURCES All writers must cite their sources in order to give original authors credit for their ideas and phrasing. If you were to portray their ideas or phrasing as your own, you'd be committing plagiarism. Thus, as you create notes during your research, be sure to associate each piece of information with its correct source. It is recommended that you accomplish this by using the Notecard feature in NoodleTools, explained in the video below. Or, if you prefer, you can take notes with pen and paper  or  type notes into a Google Doc .

8. ESTABLISH YOUR THESIS AND OUTLINE YOUR PAPER Establishing a thesis statement should occur before outlining your paper. Your thesis, or the main argument around which your paper will stay focused, is a one- or two-sentence answer to your primary research question. After settling on a thesis, organize your supporting evidence by outlining your paper using the Outline feature within NoodleTools. Outlines produced within NoodleTools can be printed, which might be helpful when writing your paper.

9. BEGIN WRITING YOUR RESEARCH PAPER Once your thesis has been established and your outline has been completed, it's time to begin writing your paper. All papers should start with a quality introductory paragraph .

10. FINISH WRITING AND PROPERLY FORMAT YOUR RESEARCH PAPER Following the introductory paragraph, you'll want to write informative body paragraphs that begin with clear topic sentences. All topic sentences and body paragraph information must support your thesis. And body paragraphs, as explained here , must contain citations to your information sources . As you write you'll also want to properly format your paper to comply with MLA style guidelines .

11. EVALUATE YOUR WORK Unless you're out of time and your due date is upon you, consider addressing any shortcomings in your work. You can review your work by using the SMHS Research Paper Rubric .

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How to Teach Middle School Students to Write Research Papers

Related articles, step-by-step explanation of how to write a research paper for elementary students, the types of outlining for writing research papers, how to write a college critical thinking essay.

Middle school students are in the unique position of transitioning from writing simple, elementary-level pieces to fully developed essays. That said, the research paper is the most complex form of academic writing, and you'll need to walk them through the entire writing process. You should also stress how important it is that they treat writing as a process, so they understand that prewriting and revision are just as crucial as writing their actual drafts.

The Assignment

The first thing you must do is explain the mode of the essay and all its accompanying rules and procedures. Each student will use evidence to support a specific claim, which is known as a thesis. Also detail the parameters of the assignment: the expected length of the paper, its due date -- including due dates for outlines, first drafts, etc. -- as well as how many outside sources each student will have to cite. Then, discuss the format for the essay, which will probably be MLA format. If possible, distribute printouts that contain all of this information in a neat and organized manner. You can even include a sample paper for later reference.

Prewriting Procedures

Spend at least half the time allotted for the paper on prewriting. Begin with lessons on brainstorming and determining whether students' theses will work for the assignment. Then, move on to conducting research. Explain the differences between primary resources and secondary resources, and how your students can use each to strengthen their essays. Teach them how to use note cards to organize and order their information to best present their arguments. Once their ideas are in place, walk them through the process of outlining. Stress to them that outlines are blueprints for essays, and that a strong outline can reduce stress while drafting and editing.

The Drafting Process

As soon as the students have solid outlines, have them begin their first drafts. Encourage them to stick strictly to their outlines, and to focus on transitioning smoothly from each topic of discussion to the next. Once they've completed first drafts, have students work in groups to read and critique the structure of each others' arguments. Have each student make notes about what was confusing about each essay, and also what he or she found compelling. Have them evaluate introductions, bodies and conclusions. Students can then compile feedback from their peers and see if there are any consistent difficulties with the readings.

Editing and Revision

This final stage provides opportunities for collaborative learning and group work. Once students have made any structural changes to their essays, you can place them again into groups and have them proofread each others' papers. This is also the time when you want to revisit the lesson on formatting: MLA headings, citations and bibliography pages. You can even incorporate a short citation exercise to give them a slight break from the assignment. Assign very short pieces about topics of their choosing. The only requirement is they must use an outside source for the information and cite it properly both in the text and at the end of the piece.

Christopher Cascio is a memoirist and holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing and literature from Southampton Arts at Stony Brook Southampton, and a Bachelor of Arts in English with an emphasis in the rhetoric of fiction from Pennsylvania State University. His literary work has appeared in "The Southampton Review," "Feathertale," "Kalliope" and "The Rose and Thorn Journal."

5 Step Writing Process for Kids

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Middle school’s moment: What the science tells us about improving the middle grades

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — In a middle school hallway in Charlottesville, Virginia, a pair of sixth grade girls sat shoulder to shoulder on a lime-green settee, creating comic strips that chronicled a year of pandemic schooling. 

middle school students research paper

Using a computer program called Pixton, they built cartoon panels, one of a girl waving goodbye to her teacher, clueless that it would be months before they were back in the classroom; another of two friends standing six feet apart from one another, looking sad. 

“We have to social distance,” explained Ashlee. Then, as if remembering, she scooted a few inches away from her friend, Anna. 

In classrooms off the hallway, clusters of kids from grades 6 to 8 worked on wood carvings, scrapbooks, paintings and podcasts, while their teachers stood by to answer questions or offer suggestions. For two hours, the students roamed freely among rooms named for their purpose — the maker space, the study, the hub — pausing for a 15-minute “brain break” at the midway point of the session. 

Welcome to Community Lab School, a tiny public charter that is trying to transform the way middle schoolers are taught in the Albemarle School District — and eventually the nation.  

“Traditional middle schools are very authoritarian, controlling environments.” Chad Ratliff, principal of Community Lab School

Here, learning is project-based, multi-grade and interdisciplinary. There are no stand-alone subjects, other than math; even in that subject, students are grouped not by grade, but by their areas of strength and weakness. In the mornings, students work independently on their projects; in the afternoons, they practice math skills and take electives.  

“Our day revolves around giving students choice,” said Stephanie Passman, the head teacher. “We want kids to feel a sense of agency and that this is a place where their ideas will be heard.” 

middle school students research paper

As a laboratory for the Albemarle district, Community Lab School is charged with testing new approaches to middle school that could be scaled to the district’s five comprehensive middle schools. The school has been held up as a national model by researchers at MIT and the University of Virginia, which is studying how to better align middle school with the developmental needs of adolescents. 

Over the last 20 years, scientists have learned a lot about how the adolescent brain works and what motivates middle schoolers. Yet a lot of their findings aren’t making it into classroom practice. That’s partly because teacher prep programs haven’t kept pace with the research, and partly because overburdened teachers don’t have the time to study and implement it.  

Today, some 70 years after reformers launched a movement to make the middle grades more responsive to the needs of early adolescents, too many middle schools continue to operate like mini high schools, on a “cells and bells” model, said Chad Ratliff, the principal of Community Lab School. 

“Traditional middle schools are very authoritarian, controlling environments,” said Ratliff. “A bell rings, and you have three minutes to shuffle to the next thing.” 

For many early adolescents — and not a few of their teachers — middle school isn’t about choice and agency, “it’s about surviving,” said Melissa Wantz, a former educator from California, with more than 20 years’ experience.  

Now, as schools nationwide emerge from a pandemic that upended educational norms, and caused rates of depression and anxiety to increase among teenagers , reformers hope educators will use this moment to remake middle school, turning it into a place where early adolescents not only survive, but thrive.  

“This is an opportunity to think about what we want middle school to look like, rather than just going back to the status quo,” said Nancy L. Deutsche, the director of Youth-Nex: The UVA Center to Promote Effective Youth Development. 

The Adolescent Brain  

Scientists have long known that the human brain develops more rapidly between birth and the age of 3 than at any other time in life. But recent advances in brain imaging have revealed that a second spurt occurs during early adolescence, a phase generally defined as spanning ages 11 to 14 .  

Though the brain’s physical structures are fully developed by age 6, the connections among them take longer to form. Early adolescence is when much of this wiring takes place. The middle school years are also what scientists call a “sensitive period” for social and emotional learning, when the brain is primed to learn from social cues.  

While the plasticity of the teenage brain makes it vulnerable to addiction, it also makes it resilient, capable of overcoming childhood trauma and adversity, according to a report recently published by the National Academies of Science. This makes early adolescence “a window of opportunity,” a chance to set students on a solid path for the remainder of their education, said Ronald Dahl, director of the Institute of Human Development at the University of California, Berkeley.  

Meanwhile, new findings in developmental psychology are shedding a fresh light on what motivates middle schoolers.  

Related: Four new studies bolster the case for project-based learning  

Adolescents, everyone knows, crave connections to their peers and independence from their parents. But they also care deeply about what adults think. They want to be taken seriously and feel their opinions count. And though they’re often seen as selfish, middle schoolers are driven to contribute to the common good, psychologists say. 

middle school students research paper

“They’re paying attention to the social world and one way to learn about the social world is to do things for others,” said Andrew Fuligni, a professor-in-residence in UCLA’s psychology department. “It’s one way you figure out your role in it.” 

So, what does this evolving understanding of early adolescence say about how middle schools should be designed? 

First, it suggests that schools should “capitalize on kids’ interest in their peers” through peer-assisted and cooperative learning , said Elise Capella, an associate professor of applied psychology and vice dean of research at New York University. “Activating positive peer influence is really important,” she said.  

Experts say students should also be given “voice and choice” — allowed to pick projects and partners, when appropriate.  

“Kids have deeper cognitive conversations when they’re with their friends than when they’re not,” said Lydia Denworth, a science writer who wrote a book on friendship, in a recent radio interview . 

Schools should also take advantage of the “sensitive period” for social and emotional learning, setting aside time to teach students the skills and mindsets that will help them succeed in high school and beyond, researchers say . 

“You don’t suddenly outgrow the need for play when you’re 11 years old.” Peter Gray, Boston College

Yet many schools are doing the opposite of what the research recommends. Though many teachers make use of group learning, they often avoid grouping friends together, fearing they’ll goof off, said Denworth. And middle schools often spend less time on social and emotional learning than elementary schools , sometimes seeing it as a distraction from academics . 

Meanwhile, many middle schools have abolished recess, according to Phyllis Fagell, author of the book “ Middle School Matters ”, leaving students with little unstructured time to work on social skills. 

“When you think about the science of adolescence, the traditional model of middle school runs exactly counter to what students at that age really need,” said Ratliff. 

A Developmental “Mismatch”  

The notion that middle schools are misaligned with the needs and drives of early adolescents is hardly a new one. Efforts to reimagine education for grades 6 to 8 dates back to the 1960s, when an education professor, William Alexander , called for replacing junior highs with middle schools that would cater to the age group. 

Alexander’s “Middle School Movement” gained steam in the 1980s, when Jacquelynne Eccles, a research scientist, posited that declines in academic achievement and engagement in middle school were the result of a mismatch between adolescents and their schools — a poor “ stage-environment fit. ” 

Propelled by Eccles’ theory, reformers coalesced around a “middle school concept” that included interdisciplinary team teaching, cooperative learning, block scheduling and advisory programs. 

middle school students research paper

But while a number of schools adopted at least some of the proposed reforms, many did so only superficially. By the late ’90s, policymakers’ attention had shifted to early childhood education and the transition to college, leaving middle school as “the proverbial middle child — the neglected, forgotten middle child,” said Fagell. 

For many students, the transition from elementary to middle school is a jarring one, Fagell said. Sixth graders go from having one teacher and a single set of classmates to seven or eight teachers and a shifting set of peers. 

“At the very point where they most need a sense of belonging, that is exactly when we take them out of school, put them on a bus, and send them to a massive feeder school,” said Fagell. 

And at a time when their circadian rhythms are shifting to later sleep and wake times, sixth graders often have to start school earlier than they did in elementary school. 

No wonder test scores and engagement slump. 

Related: Later school start time gave small boost to grades but big boost to sleep, new study finds  

In an effort to recapture some of the “community” feel of an elementary school, many schools have created “advisory” programs, in which students start their day with a homeroom teacher and small group of peers.  

Some schools are trying a “teams” approach, dividing grades into smaller groups that work with their own group of instructors. And some are doing away with departmentalization altogether. 

middle school students research paper

At White Oak Middle School, in Silver Spring, Maryland, roughly a third of sixth graders spend half their day with one teacher, who covers four subjects. Peter Crable, the school’s assistant principal until recently, said the approach deepens relationships among students and between students and teachers.  

“It can be a lot to ask kids to navigate different dynamics from one class to the next,” said Crable, who is currently a principal intern in another school. When their classmates are held constant, “students have each other’s backs more,” he said. 

“Don’t go back to the old normal.” Denise Pope, the co-founder of Challenge Success

A study of the program now being used at White Oak, dubbed “Project Success,” found that it had a positive effect on literacy and eliminated the achievement gap between poorer students and their better-off peers.  

But scaling the program up has proven difficult, in part because it goes against so many established norms. Most middle school teachers were trained as content-area specialists and see themselves in that role. It can take a dramatic mind shift — and hours of planning — for teachers to adjust to teaching multiple subjects.  

Robert Dodd, who came up with Project Success when he was principal of Argyle Middle School, also in Silver Spring, said he’d hoped to expand it district-wide. So far, though, only White Oak has embraced it. (Dodd is now principal of the district’s Walt Whitman High School.) 

“Large school systems have a way of snuffing out innovation,” he said. 

Even Argyle Middle, where the program started, has pressed pause on Project Success. 

“Teachers felt like it was elementary school,” said James Allrich, the school’s current principal. “I found myself forcing them to do it, and it doesn’t work if it’s forced.” 

Restoring recess, and other pandemic-era innovations  

But Argyle is continuing to experiment, in other ways. This fall, when students were studying online, the district instituted an hour-and-a-half “wellness break” in the middle of the day. Allrich kept it when 300 of the students returned in the spring, rotating them between lunch, recess and “choice time” every 30 minutes. 

During one sixth grade recess at the end of the school year, clusters of students played basketball and soccer, while one girl sat quietly under a tree, gazing at a cicada that had landed on her hand. Only three students were scrolling on their phones. 

middle school students research paper

“I thought when we got back, students would be all over their cellphones,” said Allrich, over the loud hum of cicadas. “But we see little of that. Kids really want to engage each other in person.” 

Peter Gray, a research professor at Boston College who has found a relationship between the decline of free play and the rise of mental illness in children and teens, wishes more middle schools would bring back recess. 

“You don’t suddenly outgrow the need for play when you’re 11 years old,” he said. 

Allrich said he plans to continue recess in the fall, when all 1,000 students are back in person, but acknowledges the scheduling will be tricky. 

Related:  How four middle schoolers are struggling through the pandemic  

Denise Pope, the co-founder of Challenge Success, a school reform nonprofit, hopes schools will stick with some of the other changes they made to their schedules during the pandemic, including later start times. “Don’t go back to the old normal,” Pope implored educators during a recent conference . “The old normal wasn’t healthy.” 

Prior to the pandemic, barely a fifth of middle schools followed the American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendation to start no earlier than 8:30 a.m. (Community Lab School started at 10 during the shutdown, but plans to return to a 9:30 a.m. start.) 

But if the pandemic ushered in some potentially positive changes to middle schools, it also disrupted some of the key developmental milestones of early adolescence, such as autonomy-building and exploring the world. Stuck at home with their parents and cut off from their peers, teens suffered increased rates of anxiety and depression.  

When students return to middle schools en masse this fall, they may need help processing the stress and trauma of the prior year and a half, said author Fagell, who is a counselor in a private school in Washington, D.C. 

Fagell suggests schools survey students to find out what they need, or try the “iceberg exercise,” in which they are asked what others don’t see about them, what they keep submerged.  

“We’re going to have to dive beneath the surface,” she said. 

Deutsche, of Youth-Nex in Virginia, said teachers will play a key role in “helping students trust the world again.” 

“Relationships with teachers will be even more important,” she said. 

Fortunately, there are more evidence-based social-emotional programs for middle schoolers than there used to be, according to Justina Schlund, senior director of Content and Field Learning for the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning. A growing number of states are adopting Pre-K through12 social and emotional learning standards or guidelines and many districts and schools are implementing social and emotional learning throughout all grades, she said. 

At Community Lab School, middle school students typically score above average on measures of emotional well-being and belonging, according to Shereen El Mallah, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Virginia who tracks the school’s outcomes. Though the Community Lab students experienced an increase in perceived stress during the pandemic, they generally fared better than their peers at demographically similar schools, she said.   

Anna and Ashlee, the sixth graders on the settee, said the school’s close-knit community and project-based approach set it apart. 

“We’re still learning as much as anyone else, they just make it fun, rather than making us read from textbooks all the time,” Ashlee said.  

This story about early adolescents was produced by The Hechinger Report , a nonprofit, independent news organization focused on inequality and innovation in education. Sign up for Hechinger’s newsletter .  

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Problems and Promise of the American Middle School

by Catherine H. Augustine , Jaana Juvonen , Vi-Nhuan Le , Tessa Kaganoff , Louay Constant

Download Free Electronic Document

What is the state of the American middle school? In Focus on the Wonder Years: Challenges Facing the American Middle School , RAND researchers identified middle schools' major concerns and recommended ways to improve students' academic achievement, communicate with parents, and support teachers and principals. Middle schools are not in the state of crisis described in some media accounts, and credible reform efforts are under way. However, significant issues remain.

Today in the United States, nearly nine million students attend public "middle schools" — schools that serve as an intermediary phase between elementary school and high school, typically consisting of grades 6–8. The middle school years represent a critical time for young teens. Middle schools have been blamed for the increase in student behavior problems and cited as the cause of teens' alienation, disengagement from school, and low achievement.

What are America's middle schools really like? RAND Education researchers undertook a comprehensive assessment of the American middle school, made particularly timely and important by the passage of the federal No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB), which emphasizes test-based accountability and sanctions for failing schools. The researchers describe their findings in Focus on the Wonder Years: Challenges Facing the American Middle School. The RAND Corporation report includes some practical advice about how to deal with the challenges middle schools face and proposes a research agenda that might yield additional information for improving the schools.

The State of the American Middle School

In the 1980s, reformers endorsed a new middle school "concept" intended to change the traditional junior high school to create an educational experience more appropriate for young adolescents. The goal was to make the old junior high more developmentally responsive by changing the grade configuration from grades 7–8 or 7–9 to grades 6–8 and introducing new organizational and instructional practices (e.g., interdisciplinary team teaching).

Today, many schools are organized around the 6–8 configuration, and the well-being of middle school students generates tremendous interest from committed educators, innovative reformers, and private foundations. However, in spite of these well-intentioned improvement efforts, middle schools do not yet fully serve the needs of young teens, and several challenges remain. RAND's main findings and recommendations are summarized below.

Separating the Middle Grades Is Associated with Transition Problems

The history of reform indicates that a separate middle school has become the norm more because of societal and demographic pressures than because of scientific evidence supporting the need for a separate school for young teens. In fact, there is evidence suggesting that separate schools and the transitions they require can cause problems that negatively affect students' developmental and academic progress. RAND recommends that, over the coming years, states and school districts consider alternatives to the 6–8 structure to reduce multiple transitions for students and allow schools to better align their goals across grades K–12.

Progress on Academic Outcomes Is Uneven

Data show slow but steady increases in achievement scores since the 1970s. However, about 70 percent of American 8th-grade public-school students fail to reach proficient levels of performance in reading, mathematics, and science on national achievement tests. This is particularly true for Latinos and African Americans, who continue to lag behind their white counterparts, even when their parents have had college educations. We recommend adoption of various forms of supplemental services that have been proven effective for the lowest-performing students, including summer school programs before 6th grade and additional reading and math courses after 6th grade.

Conditions for Learning Are Suboptimal

Conditions for learning are factors that can enhance or diminish a student's ability to learn. Particularly relevant to young teens are motivational and social-emotional indicators of well-being that are related to academic performance. Disengagement and social alienation not only are related to low achievement but also predict dropping out. National school safety statistics suggest that physical conflict is especially problematic in middle schools, and student concerns about safety predict emotional distress that can compromise academic performance. Such findings underscore the need to examine a variety of student outcomes in addition to academic indicators. Schools need to adopt comprehensive prevention models (e.g., school wide anti bullying programs) that focus on changing the social norms that foster antisocial behavior.

The Vision of the Middle School Has Not Been Fully Implemented

The continuing lackluster performance of middle schools might also be explained, in part, by inadequate implementation of the middle school concept in most districts and schools. [1] Core practices such as interdisciplinary team teaching and advisory programs tend to be weakly implemented with little attention to the underlying goals. A sufficient level of fidelity to many of the reform practices is not possible without substantial additional attention, resources, and long-term support.

Middle School Teachers and Principals Lack Appropriate Training and Support

Many middle school teachers do not have a major, minor, or certification in the subjects they teach or training in the development of young adolescents. Evidence-based models of professional development for teachers should be adopted to improve the subject-area expertise and the pedagogical skills of teachers.

Principals face similar training issues, in addition to another challenge: Disciplinary issues increase a principal's workload and can decrease the time and effort the individual has to spend on other leadership functions. Different management approaches need to be considered that permit principals to delegate their managerial duties and foster a school climate that is conducive to teaching and learning.

Parental Support Wanes

Research shows that parental involvement declines as students progress through school and that middle schools do less than elementary schools do to engage parents. Middle schools should provide information about school practices and offer concrete suggestions for activities that parents and teens can do together at home.

New Reform Models Show Promise

Our review of whole-school reforms and professional development practices identified some promising models that address both academic achievement and the development needs of young teens. If fully implemented, these models might propel our schools forward toward the high levels of achievement that are the goal of NCLB.

Looking Ahead

Today's emphasis on higher standards (such as those NCLB articulates) and on increased accountability through academic testing poses at least two challenges for middle schools. First, as legislation focused solely on academic achievement outcomes holds greater sway, the developmental needs of children might take second place, even though the two are highly interrelated. Second, it is unclear whether adequate federal and state supports are available for schools and students to meet the new standards. Regardless of the nature and scope of the next middle-grade reform efforts, state and federal support is needed at this time, and the efforts of various agencies, organizations, and foundations should be well coordinated. Continuity of effort is likely to provide the right conditions for student growth, institutional improvement, and educational progress. While NCLB creates a feeling of urgency, that urgency should be translated into steady, reasoned attempts to improve the schooling of all our young teens.

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Focus on the wonder years: challenges facing the american middle school.

May 2, 2004

Jaana Juvonen , Vi-Nhuan Le , et al.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation Research brief series. RAND research briefs present policy-oriented summaries of individual published, peer-reviewed documents or of a body of published work.

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30 Tips For Finding Great Research Paper Topics for Middle School

If you get stuck on the stage of choosing the topic of your research paper, we can completely understand you. It is the case when too vivid or too tired imagination can both work against you. The good news are that in the middle school the teachers are usually less strict when it comes to topic choice than in college. But this is also the bad news: if you weren’t given a list of topics, you are facing, actually, the unlimited choice.

Mostly, the research paper in middle school exist to teach you to do the research itself. So the topic isn’t crucial until you are ready to gather and analyze data and make your own conclusion. To get your first ideas you may try the brainstorm technique: just get a sheet of paper and pen and write down anything that comes to mind.

Don’t worry if mostly it will be something that won’t make a good research paper topic. Try to add some words to it: for example turn “candies” into “the production of candies”, “the importance of candies in our culture” or “the influence of candies to our body”. You may come up with something worthy or at least you will definitely have fun.

If this doesn’t work, you may try to remember all the topics you learned on the course you need the paper for. Do you have the favourite one? Try to google its name. You will see lots of the articles and other researches that may give you the direction and also serve as data for your paper. You are choosing the topic and searching for sources at the same time, isn’t it cool?

Useful information: What is research paper writing and how to format it?

You may also read through our list of sample topics. Feel free to change them in any way you want. Just keep in mind: these topics are only the directions for you to choose.

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How to Create a Strong Research Paper: A Guide for Middle School Students

When a middle school student first begins the research paper process, he or she has a lot of writing rules to remember. And if the child has to write an APA and a MLA paper at different times, then there are even more things to remember. Use this guide as this very important foundation is built.

Step to Remember

There are different tips for different styles of papers. You have to know what style your teacher wants. For example, an informative essay is composed much differently than a cause and effect paper. Know your types and ask questions if you are not sure what to do. The layout of the paper matters, too. So follow these formatting tips:

Formatting Tips

One of the best ways to create a successful middle school paper is to pick a topic that you like if the teacher gives you the option of selecting your own topic. You will always write a better paper on a subject that you enjoy and have an interest in. Do yourself a favor and pick a topic you love.


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