Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Tom Cavanagh


A Program Evaluation of the Comprehensive School Reform Model Making Middle Grades Work


Wycondia S. West

MA, Spring Hill College, 2002

BS, Spring Hill College, 1998

Doctoral Study Submitted in Partial Fulfillment

of the Requirements for the Degree of

Doctor of Education

Walden University

August 2016

There is increasing concern in the United States about the academic challenges that middle grade students face. Middle schools are not meeting accountability standards, and as a result students are not being adequately prepared for high school. In response to these concerns, a state in the southeastern United States adopted a comprehensive school reform model known as Making Middle Grades Work (MMGW) in 2006. The purpose of this program evaluation was to explore the effectiveness of the MMGW program and provide recommendations for improvement. Conceptually, this program evaluation drew upon the MMGW model. The research questions focused on exploring teachers and administrators' perceptions of and suggestions for improving the MMGW program. A collective case study design was used. Eight teachers and 4 administrators with experience in Grades 6-8 and training in MMGW were interviewed. School documents were also reviewed. The participants were purposefully invited from 4 middle schools (1 low performing and 3 high performing) in a district in the southeastern United States. Thematic analysis was used to code the data, and identified themes were summarized. Findings suggested that the current implementation of the MMGW model lacked consistency, uniformity, commitment, and opportunities for professional development. A formative report was created that provided recommendations for ongoing program evaluation and training for middle level educators in the district. Implementation of this project within the schools or the district will increase the lifespan of the MMGW reform model. Also, this implementation may improve academic achievement for middle school students and help to improve high school graduation rates.