AMLE Research Summaries

AMLE Research Summaries are abbreviated reviews of professional literature that inform middle level education policy and practice and provide basic information about the education of young adolescents for parents and community members. The Summaries are vetted by AMLE’s Research Advisory Committee. Dr. Matt Moulton, Chair of the Committee, explains why Research Summaries are important and how to use them in your own practice – whether you’re a teacher, administrator, or higher education professional.

Seeking New Submissions

The Research Advisory Committee of AMLE is currently seeking submissions. Learn More.


Mentoring Middle School Teachers: Research Summary

Mentoring can support developing pedagogies, curricula, culturally responsive teaching, and navigating the educational landscape. Mentoring can start at different stages to meet teachers’ needs and to impact their efficacy. While professional development is, many times, a day or two; mentoring is an on-going, teacher-directed learning environment that directly impacts the classroom.

Students and teacher in robotics class

Career Exploration and Awareness in the Middle Grades

Career exploration is a well-established component of successful middle grades schools. This research summary synthesizes current research on career exploration in the middle grades across four areas:

  1. influences on career aspiration, choice, and engagement;
  2. career exploration and awareness interventions;
  3. career exploration and awareness outcomes; and
  4. teacher perspectives on career exploration.
Young Adolescent Development

Developmental Characteristics of Young Adolescents

Understanding and responding to the unique developmental characteristics of young adolescents, 10- to 15-year-olds, in culturally responsive and sustaining ways is central among the tenets of middle level education (Bishop & Harrison, 2021). During early adolescence, a distinct period of human growth and development between childhood and adolescence, young adolescents experience rapid development, shape beliefs and attitudes, and adopt health habits and social behaviors that lay the foundation for adulthood (McCarthy et al., 2016).

Supporting English Language Learners

Supporting English Learners in the Middle: Culturally Responsive and Sustaining Practices to Support Student Identity Development and Sense of Belonging

The English Learner (EL) population in the United States has increased by 8.1 percent between 2000 and 2017, with an increase in percentage in all but seven states and the District of Columbia (U.S. Department of Education. Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics [NCES], 2020). For the purposes of this summary, EL

Teacher Ed Equity

Middle Grades Teacher Education for Equity and Social Justice

Effective teacher preparation for middle grades educators has complexity and shape-shifting characteristics. With a backdrop of the 21st century, there are a variety of qualities that characterize the setting and realities of teacher practices (Darling-Hammond, 2006), and thus the needs and values of teacher education. Among these realities are “technolog[ies]…the increasing complexity of learning and teaching in diverse classrooms, the growing societal expectations of raising students’ achievements, and the need for tailoring and implementing innovative teaching practices” (Kowalczuk-Walędziak et al., 2019, p. 15).

Equity in Math

Equity in Mathematics: Helping Every Young Adolescent Access the Content

Access and equity for all in mathematics is not a new idea (Trentacosta & Kenney, 1997). When focusing on mathematics, the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics has made it clear and imperative in Principles to Actionsthat we commit to access and equity for all (National Council of Teachers of Mathematics [NCTM], 2014).

Supporting Deaf Students

Equity, Access, and Inclusiveness: Supporting Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Young Adolescents in the Mainstreamed Middle School Classroom

The numbers of deaf and hard of hearing (D/HH) students mainstreamed in classrooms today is growing (Kelman & Branco, 2009). More than 87% of D/HH students receive instruction in general education classrooms (U.S. Department of Education, 2015)

STEM in the Middle Grades

STEM in the Middle Grades

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education continues to emphasize the teaching of skills that are relevant to today’s information driven economy (Jamali, Nurulazam Md Zain, Samsudin & Ale Ebrahim, 2017).

Student Agency

Student Agency

A typical middle school classroom includes young adolescents with a range of skills, interests, abilities, and personalities. One student may relate any topic of study to a favorite sport or video game. Another stretches her digital skills with each assignment and spends time outside of school learning how to code. Yet another emerges as a leader in any collaborative setting within school. While different, each of these students demonstrates agency in a unique way. The notion of student agency aligns with many tenets of teaching and learning at the middle level.

Historical Literacy

Teaching Historical Literacy in the Middle Grades

As students enter the middle grades, they often encounter curricula that grow more challenging each year. This is especially the case in social studies when students experience primary documents and complex texts, sometimes with limited background knowledge.

Transitioning from Elementary to Middle School

Transitioning Young Adolescents from Elementary to Middle School

Middle school can be an exciting and terrifying time for students transitioning from elementary to middle school. By definition, transition means the change from one place, state of being, or condition to another place, state of being, or condition (Merriam-Webster Online, 2015).

Middle School Math Challenges

Understanding and Addressing the Challenges of Teaching Middle Grades Mathematics Conceptually

Understanding students’ academic needs and developing curricula to address them has always been a challenge for middle level educators. Competing perspectives on academic rigor and external demands for accountability have often created additional layers of stress for teachers and administrators.