Date of Award


Degree Name

EdD Doctor of Education

Dissertation Committee

Edward Kujawa Jr., PhD, Director; Edward F. DeRoche, PhD; Joseph C. Rost, PhD


children & youth, educational programs, independent education, middle schools, pre-adolescence


Independent schools across the nation have adopted the middle school concept. The critical element in the evolution of the middle school in independent education is that the unique and marked changes in the overall intellectual and psycho-social development of adolescents have been systematically identified and integrated into a multi-divisional (K-12) structure. The literature and statistical information documenting the emergence of the middle school in independent education has been minimal. While contemporary research on public middle schools is extensive, very little data collection or theoretical models have been accumulated about the middle school movement in the private sector. The present study sought to document and analyze the process by which independent school administrators have not only realigned their curricula, but reorganized their educational programs in order to meet the inclusive needs of students during pre and early adolescence. This research utilized the survey method to elicit information from independent middle school educators about the nature of their programs. A questionnaire, incorporating both open-ended and forced-choice questions, was designed to identify the factors that shaped trends and practices in middle level education. Five research objectives were developed to gather information about organizational change and grade level patterns, administrative reasons for adopting the middle school concept, successes of the middle school, achievements associated with middle schools, and the characteristics of effective middle schools. This research indicated that the independent middle school has emerged as a separate and distinct entity from its divisional partners in the lower and upper school. A model for shared divisional alliances among the lower, middle and upper school divisions was identified as essential in the promotion of successful grade level matriculation. Independent school educators have created a climate and culture that integrate the multidimensional aspects of adolescent maturation into the learning process. That is, the K-12 structure utilizes the middle school as part of an overall program that acknowledges and organizes sequential periods of transition. In this context the middle school maintains, reinforces, and facilitates the development of the child into adolescence. The study concludes with a set of implications and recommendations for additional research.

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access