Degree Name

EdD (Doctor of Education)


Educational Leadership

Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

William Flora

Committee Members

Pamela Scott, Stephanie Tweed, Eleanor Smalley


The purpose of this qualitative study was to examine the perceptions of school staff as to the best practices utilized in successful middle schools. The researcher used the framework of This We Believe and the School To Watch application process to determine schools worthy of the study. Each school must have been designated three times or more as a School To Watch. Three schools were selected for the study that were each in three different school divisions and three different geographical regions in Virginia. The researcher went to each site to conduct interviews with participants. Fifteen interviews via focus groups were conducted with twenty-one participants. Interviews were recorded, transcribed, and coded.

The researcher analyzed interview data and determined there were three emerging concepts critical to the success of middle schools. Concepts that emerged from participants were: each school was developmentally responsive to the social and emotional needs of young adolescents, each school’s staff employed strong organizational leadership and structures to coordinate the school, and each school’s staff was purposeful in their creation of each school’s master schedule that allowed for purposeful planning. Practitioners may find the results of the study useful as many of the practices could be employed in other middle schools.

Document Type

Dissertation - unrestricted


Copyright by the authors.