Perspectives and problems of change: Implementing the middle school concept

Laverne Stingelar Flowers, Fordham University


The study has a threefold purpose. First, it documents and analyzes the process of implementing selected characteristics of the middle school concept in an urban middle level school. The study examines the creation and implementation of interdisciplinary curriculum units through teamwork for one team of seventh grade teachers. The team develops a theme based on entrepreneurship which culminates ina school site business. Second, the study examines the impact of rational planning as members of the team receive a broad base of support. Changes that occur in Year One reflect an alteration in beliefs and teaching practices. Finally, the study examines in Year Two the discontinuity in rational planning, the change in leadership, teaching practices, and changes in the seventh grade staff members. The uncertainty in Year Two may be more common in urban schools than previously recorded. A qualitative approach was selected to obtain the data. This parallel case study involved interviewing members of the team for both years, the leadership for the school, district, and the external support agents for the team. Observations and an analysis of written documents provided additional descriptions. The multi-dimensions of change were viewed from the perspectives of the mission, leadership, activities, support, staff development, culture, and outcomes to contrast the differences between the 1991-92 and 1992-93 school years. The findings suggest that for changes to occur, the principal of a school must be able to articulate a vision for change without imposing the vision. Staff members will successfully implement new instructional practices if they are part of the decision making process for implementing new ideas. Changes will occur if sufficient support is offered through financial and human resources for staff development and planning time. The findings suggest that new instructional strategies can influence the culture of a sub-school and the identity of young adolescents. Newly implemented instructional practices can be discontinued if support for an initiative disappears and a sub-school culture can revert to a previous form if new personnel enter with different ideas. Further recommendations are made for researchers and practitioners who may be interested in initiating changes in middle level schools.

Subject Area

Secondary education|Curricula|Teaching|School administration

Recommended Citation

Flowers, Laverne Stingelar, "Perspectives and problems of change: Implementing the middle school concept" (1994). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9511218.