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News from September 2017

MCPER receives $1.4 million to develop middle school professional development model
September 20, 2017

The Meadows Center for Preventing Educational Risk (MCPER) has received a $1.4 million grant from the Institute of Education Sciences to develop a professional development model specifically for middle schools.

The model will be developed over two years in collaboration with educators at all three middle schools in San Angelo Independent School District (ISD). Following development, a pilot study will be conducted to test the model’s potential effectiveness on students’ reading performance.

“We are honored to receive this funding from the Institute of Education Sciences,” said Christy Murray, principal investigator of the project. “Our goal is to develop a set of materials and professional development resources that help middle school educators implement powerful, research-based practices and, concurrently, build the capacity of on-campus leaders to sustain those practices over time.”

The grant will extend the work of MCPER’s Middle School Matters project, which was initially funded through The Meadows Foundation, Sid W. Richardson Foundation, The Brown Foundation, and others.

“Thanks to the amazing support of our initial funders, Middle School Matters has developed many wonderful resources, and we’re looking forward to enhancing those resources with the help of some talented educators in San Angelo ISD,” Murray said.

During the 2017–2018 and 2018–2019 school years, San Angelo ISD educators will serve as the experts by partnering with researchers to improve middle school instructional materials and professional development efforts.

Sharon Vaughn, executive director of The Meadows Center for Preventing Educational Risk, highlighted the importance of this collaboration. “The teacher perspective is very important in the development of instructional materials so that we can ensure they are usable and feasible in the classroom,” she said. “Incorporating their ideas will truly connect research to practice.”

Farrah Gomez, San Angelo ISD executive director of schools and school improvement, agrees. “The partnership with Middle School Matters has been invaluable,” Gomez said. “We are excited to continue our work together where the research can be put to practice in our classrooms. The communication and feedback loop between teachers and researchers is a vital part of the process.”

Middle School Matters was founded in 2010 by the George W. Bush Institute, which partnered with MCPER in 2012. Since that time, Middle School Matters has supported more than 100 schools, hosted four conferences, and developed dozens of resources and instructional toolkits.

To learn more about Middle School Matters and download free instructional resources, visit the Middle School Matters website.

Tags: Middle School Matters Institute  Middle School Matters: Promoting Research- and Evidence-Based Practices 

News from August 2017

MCPER’s Brandy Maynard, Veronica Miller receive Leonard E. Gibbs Award for review on mindfulness
August 16, 2017

MCPER's Brandy Maynard, a fellow in Dropout Prevention Institute, and Veronica Miller, a researcher with the Middle School Matters Institute, received the Leonard E. Gibbs Award for a recent review on mindfulness along with coauthors Michael R. Solis and Kristen E. Brendel.

In the review, Mindfulness-Based Interventions for Improving Cognition, Academic Achievement, Behavior and Socioemotional Functioning of Primary and Secondary Students, the authors found that mindfulness-based interventions have a statistically significant positive effect on cognitive and socioemotional processes for students, but that they do not improve behavior or academic performance.  

Read more about it on the Campbell Collaboration website.

Tags: Dropout Prevention Institute Middle School Matters Institute 

MSMI publishes article with guidance for educators on developing effective, long-term innovations
August 11, 2017

In a new article, Middle School Matters Institute Principal Investigator Christy Murray, Assistant Director David Barrett, and School Support Coach Veronica Miller provide guidance for middle school educators seeking innovative solutions to systemic problems.

"Planting the Seeds of Innovation: Four Steps to Build Capacity for Long-Term Innovation" appears in the August issue of AMLE Magazine, published by the Association for Middle Level Education. In the article, the authors convey the importance of grounding innovations in solid research, thus providing a strong foundation and increasing the confidence for an effective impact on student outcomes. Additionally, the authors emphasize the need for long-term planning and strategic implementation.

The article also points readers to MSM’s field guide, a collection of research-based principles and practices deemed essential for middle school success.

For more information on MSMI’s work, visit the Middle School Matters website.

Tags: Middle School Matters Institute 

News from October 2016

“Making Middle School Matter” Symposium set for January 2018 in Austin
October 26, 2016

The Texas Association of Secondary School Principals (TASSP) will host the second annual “Making Middle School Matter” Symposium from January 21 to 23, 2018, in Austin for middle grade administrators and educators. The symposium will once again feature speakers and content from the Middle School Matters Institute and other middle grade organizations.  

Much like past Middle School Matters Institute conferences, this symposium will focus on research-based practices and strategies to implement in the classroom. Attendees should expect a series of keynotes, workshops, and time set aside for networking and planning.

“We are very pleased to continue our partnership with TASSP,” said Christy Murray, director of the Middle School Matters Institute. “Our goal is to provide the highest-quality professional development so middle grade educators can learn what works, instructionally and otherwise, in 21st century middle schools.”

Featured topics will include dropout prevention and the use of early warning indicator data; improving reading and writing throughout the content areas; positive student behavior supports; research-based mathematics practices; and measuring, monitoring, and managing important data.

Registration information for the symposium is forthcoming. For more information and to receive e-mail alerts about the symposium, visit the Middle School Matters Institute website.

Tags: Middle School Matters Institute 

News from August 2016

Middle School Matters Institute unveils new website
August 1, 2016

MCPER’s Middle School Matters Institute (MSMI) has launched a new website designed specifically for educators:

The new site has a user-friendly interface for anyone looking to improve middle grades education, especially the following:

  • District and school leaders
  • Curriculum facilitators
  • Instructional coaches
  • Department chairs
  • Classroom teachers

Educators and researchers can access the Middle School Matters Field Guide and the accompanying resources that translate research into action in the following areas:

  • Research-based instruction
  • Student supports that enhance learning
  • Informed decision-making

Additionally, the website features ready-to-use instructional toolkits and implementation tools.

For more information, view a brief introductory video or contact MSMI.

Tags: Middle School Matters Institute 

News from June 2016

Middle School Matters Institute to provide summer professional development in San Angelo
June 22, 2016

MCPER’s Middle School Matters Institute (MSMI) is collaborating with San Angelo Independent School District in San Angelo, Texas, to provide professional development for teachers, paraprofessionals, instructional coaches, counselors, and administrators who serve students in fourth to ninth grades.

The “Summer Learning-palooza” will be a conference-style event with sessions featuring San Angelo’s lead educators and MSMI’s national experts in reading (Deborah Reed, University of Iowa), writing (Tanya Santangelo, Arcadia University), and mathematics (Sarah Powell, The University of Texas at Austin). Sessions will be held in the morning and afternoon on June 29 and August 4 and will provide participants with hands-on, practical, research-based strategies that can be immediately implemented in the classroom.

Registration is free and open to all school districts in Texas. For more information, contact Matt Kimball at or 325–947–3838 (extension 718).

As an extension of the “Learning-palooza,” MSMI’s David Barrett will work with leadership teams from San Angelo’s three middle schools—Lee, Glenn, and Lincoln—to develop implementation goals and plans that will facilitate translating the research presented into practice. This work will build upon San Angelo’s implementation of Middle School Matters principles and practices from the past 2 years. Since 2014, San Angelo has been selected twice to participate in the Middle School Matters program (funded by the George W. Bush Institute) and receive intensive professional development and support to build its capacity in reading, writing, and mathematics instruction and intervention.

Tags: Middle School Matters Institute 

News from March 2016

Second edition of the Middle School Matters Field Guide is now available
March 29, 2016

A completely revamped second edition of the Middle School Matters Field Guide, the only such compilation of research focused on the middle grades, has been published and is now available online.

The field guide is a collection of research-based principles, practices, and strategies deemed essential for middle school success. Experts from across the country contributed to the field guide, which contains examples and illustrations for each recommended practice to help educators understand and then implement these practices in their classrooms and schools.

The Middle School Matters Institute, in partnership with the George W. Bush Institute, led the development of the second edition. 

To download the entire field guide or individual sections, visit the MCPER Library. For more information, read the Bush Institute press release.

Tags: Middle School Matters Institute 

News from September 2015

Two schools selected for extended support through Middle School Matters Institute
September 28, 2015

Two schools have been selected to receive an additional year of support through the Middle School Matters Institute (MSMI), including on-site professional development and ongoing coaching from national education experts and the necessary resources to implement proven strategies in mathematics.

Advanced Studies Magnet–Haut Gap Middle School in Johns Island, South Carolina, and Uplift Mighty Preparatory in Fort Worth, Texas, were selected after submitting detailed proposals that outlined goals for the 2015–2016 school year and described the benefits of continued support. Haut Gap originally was selected to receive support through MSMI in the 2014–2015 school year; Uplift Mighty was selected in the 2013–2014 school year.

MSMI is an initiative of the George W. Bush Institute in partnership with The Meadows Center for Preventing Educational Risk. MSMI develops and disseminates resources that increase access to research on and proven practical strategies for middle school improvement. The goal of MSMI is to increase the number of students well prepared for high school and postsecondary success. MSMI is part of the Bush Institute's Middle School Matters program.

Tags: Middle School Matters Institute 

News from June 2015

Read about the 2015 Summer Conference in the latest Bush Institute blog
June 26, 2015

The latest George W. Bush Institute blog focuses on the third annual Middle School Matters Institute Summer Conference, held this June in Austin. To learn more about the conference, visit the Bush Institute website.

Tags: Middle School Matters Institute 

News from May 2015

Three school districts selected to receive expert assistance from Middle School Matters Institute
May 28, 2015

Three school districts in two states have been selected as the third cohort of sites to receive guidance from nationally recognized experts in research-based instructional strategies through the Middle School Matters Institute.

Etiwanda School District in Southern California and Pharr–San Juan–Alamo and San Angelo independent school districts in Texas were selected after a rigorous review process. District leadership teams and leaders from two schools in each district will attend the third annual Middle School Matters Institute Summer Conference in June in Austin, Texas. In the 2015–2016 school year, the districts will implement what they learned at the conference with support from a team of experts.

The Middle School Matters program is an initiative of the George W. Bush Institute in partnership with The Meadows Center for Preventing Educational Risk. For more information, read the press release from the George W. Bush Institute.

Tags: Middle School Matters Institute