Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Educational Leadership

First Advisor

Dr. David Cowden

Second Advisor

Dr. James Sanders

Third Advisor

Dr. Lynn Nations-Johnson


Michigan Public Act 25 of 1990 mandated public school reform. One of 4 components of Public Act 25 is the development of a 3 to 5 year School Improvement Plan (SIP). The purpose of this descriptive study was to examine middle level school improvement in Berrien County, Michigan, for evidence that developmentally appropriate middle level education is promoted.

This 2-part investigation involved analyzing SIPs submitted for 1992-93 school year using a content analysis format and interviews with each building principal or designee. The content analysis format was developed by Sweeney and Cooper in 1992 to analyze SIPs of Wayne County, Michigan. SIP components reviewed were: (a) mission statements by thematic emphasis on student, school, and society; (b) goals and curricular categories; (c) cognitive, social, emotional, and physical learning areas; and (d) types of staff development. Interviews were used to verify data and gather information not in the SIPs.

This study was conducted with a focus on developmental characteristics of early adolescence and middle level program components including flexible block scheduling, advisory, teacher common planning time, and interdisciplinary teaming. Concentrating on the perceived influence of Public Act 25 and SIPs on middle level schools in Berrien County, Michigan, this research is a snapshot of these schools and of the reform and improvement that was planned for as required by Public Act 25. The findings of this descriptive study are that SIPs were consistently planned to promote developmentally appropriate middle level education and that principals perceived the plans as influential as they promoted curriculum update and review, and schools moved toward heterogeneous grouping and teaming. Middle level components found to be in limited use were the advisory program, team planning time, interdisciplinary teaming, and flexible block scheduling. The results of this study clearly identified consistency between school improvement plans for change and principals perceptions that change has occurred.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access