Middle Level Best Practices Study
The goal of the 2005 Arkansas Middle School Best Practices study was to identify practices in Arkansas middle schools that improve student achievement. Once best practices are identified, the intent is that they can be utilized by other schools in their efforts to increase achievement. Practices were examined at the district, school, and classroom level, though the school level was the primary focus of the study.
Though middle schools were the main focus of the 2005 Arkansas Middle Schools Best Practices study, elementary schools were also included in the study in order to follow-up with the Arkansas Elementary School Best Practices study. In 2004, the Arkansas Elementary School Best Practices study examined 17 elementary schools. In 2005, the Arkansas Middle School Best Practices study involved an additional 6 elementary schools and 15 middle schools. Using guidelines established by the National Center for Educational Accountability (NCEA), sixteen middle schools were identified as potential participants, and fifteen of these schools agreed to be part of the study. More information on the NCEA school selection process can be found at http://www.nc4ea.org/files/NCEA%20HP%20Selection%20Criteria.pdf. Ten of the fifteen middle schools were designated as high-performing and five were designated as average-performing. After the high-performing schools were identified, the five average-performing schools were selected to match the high-performing schools with regard to size, income level, ethnicity, and limited English proficiency population. Geographic location was also considered. School performance data and case studies for all high-performing schools involved in the study can be accessed through the NOGGINS map.
Site visits were conducted at each school. Teachers, school administrators, and district personnel were interviewed to identify best practices. Analysis of the data using the five themes and three levels revealed differences between high-performing and average-performing Arkansas middle schools for almost every theme and system level. Practices that contribute to student achievement within each theme and system level are described in detail, and can be found by clicking on any of the boxes in the grid above. To learn more about the methodology used in the Best Practices study, click here.
More information about Just for the Kids and the national Best Practices Study can be found at http://www.just4kids.org/en/research_policy/best_practices/framework.cfm.