For educators who care about young adolescents


Publishing Opportunities

Call for Chapters

International Handbook of Middle Level Education Theory, Research, and Policy

Dr. David C. Virtue, Volume Editor


The International Handbook of Middle Level Education Theory, Research, and Policy (Routledge) will be a resource for researchers, graduate students, policy makers, and practitioners who work in middle level education and associated fields of study. The volume will provide an overview of the current state of middle level education theory, research, and policy; offer analysis and critique of the extant literature in the field; and map new directions for research and theory development in middle level education. 


The volume editor is seeking contributions that critique, analyze, and synthesize existing theoretical, conceptual, and empirical literature related to middle level education. Chapter authors will describe rationales for middle level education research and definitions of the field; discuss philosophical approaches and underpinnings for middle level education research; describe and critique frameworks for quality in middle level education; review research about young adolescent learners, middle level school programming, and educator preparation; and analyze public policies affecting middle level education at national, regional, and local levels. Chapter proposals must include the following elements:

  • Complete contact information and institutional affiliation for the author(s).
  • A tentative title for the chapter. 
  • A narrative description of the chapter (approximately 500 words). The narrative should 1) state the purpose for the chapter, 2) identify key concepts and questions the chapter will address, 3) provide a brief overview of the organization of the chapter, and 4) explain how the chapter will contribute to the overall volume. Specify the section (I – VIII) for which the chapter proposal should be considered.
  • A list of anticipated key references. 

The editor will notify authors regarding acceptance by February 15, 2018. Complete manuscripts will be due to the editor by August 1, 2018. 


The volume will have eight sections each with an introduction and approximately four chapters that align with the theme of the section.

Section I. Middle Level Education Research: Defining the Field, Framing the Problem

Middle level education as a field of study is entering adolescence. During the last four decades, researchers, policy makers, and practitioners have given increased, focused attention to the challenges, issues, and practices associated with educating young adolescents. Professional organizations and learned societies have organized conferences and created journals, book series, and websites as vehicles for the production and dissemination of knowledge in the field. As the field matures, it must define its own identity and wrestle with the existential question: What is the field of middle level education? Is a particular research study an example of middle level education research simply because it occurred in a sixth grade classroom or involved 13-year-old students? How have entities engaged in the generation and dissemination of knowledge about middle level education (e.g., Association for Middle Level Education, Professors of Middle Level Education, Middle Level Education Research SIG) defined middle level education research? Authors of chapters in this section will consider how the field of middle level education is defined, how it has evolved over time, and how researchers in the field frame problems from various perspectives. These perspectives include:

  • Developmentalist Perspectives: Middle level education research as the study of school programs for young adolescent students.
  • Institutional-Organizational Perspectives: Middle level education research as the study of middle grades school programs that bridge primary and secondary education. 
  • Critical Perspectives: Middle level education research as the study of inequity, injustice, and social control in school settings for young people.
  • Philosophical Perspectives: Middle level education research as the study of school programs grounded in progressive education philosophy.

Section II. Philosophy of Middle Level Education Research

Section II will explore the paradigms, ontological assumptions, epistemologies, and methodologies that have guided researchers in their pursuit of knowledge about middle level education. Authors of chapters in this section might address one or more of the following questions: 

  • What paradigms, or belief systems, have guided research in middle level education?  
  • What can we know about middle level education? What are the underlying ontological assumptions upon which scholars have based their research? How have the assumptions changed over time or varied across researchers at a specific point in time? 
  • How do we know what we know about middle level education? 
  • How have middle level researchers positioned themselves in relation to the phenomena under investigation?
  • What tools and techniques do middle level education researchers employ, and how have the tools and techniques changed over time or varied across researchers at a specific point in time?
  • What is the role of theory in middle level education research? How have folklore, tradition, and practitioner knowledge informed middle level education research?

Section III. Visions and Frameworks for Quality in Middle Level Education

Authors in this section will explore visions and frameworks for quality in middle level education. How have governments, advocacy groups, and professional organizations around the world defined “good” middle level education? How do these visions intersect, complement, and support one another? In what ways do they contradict or contrast with one another? How have these visions of “the good” been informed by theory, research, and policy? Are there universal elements of “good” middle level education, or are these visions and frameworks expressions of locally situated cultural constructs? Chapters will address frameworks from across the globe that may include:

  • The Middle School Concept 
  • Breaking Ranks in the Middle – National Association of Secondary School Principals
  • This We Believe – Association for Middle Level Education
  • Turning Points – Carnegie Corp.
  • Schools to Watch – National Forum to Accelerate Middle Grades Reform
  • International Baccalaureate Middle Years Program
  • Adolescent Success (formerly Middle Years of Schooling Association, Australia)
  • New Zealand Association of Intermediate and Middle Schools
  • European League for Middle Level Education
  • National Middle Schools’ Forum (U.K.)

Section IV. The Young Adolescent Learner and School

The concept of adolescence—and early adolescence, in particular—is as much a social construct as it is a biological construct. Young people experience dramatic physiological and psychological changes as they enter adolescence, but what do these changes mean? Parents and caregivers, educators, policy makers, and young people themselves ascribe various meanings and values to these developmental changes and to the overall stage of adolescence. The authors of chapters in Section IV will review middle level education research that focuses on characteristics of young adolescent learners. What theories from cognitive and developmental psychology inform middle level education research? How has public education policy constructed the young adolescent learner? How do different stakeholder groups define “developmentally appropriate” practices in middle level education? Topics chapter authors will address may include:

  • Human development
  • Identity development and self-concept
  • Motivation and engagement
  • Cognition
  • Social-emotional learning
  • Moral development
  • Culture and community influences
  • Risk and resilience
  • Metacognition and mindfulness
  • Constructing and deconstructing “early adolescence”

Section V. Academic Programming for the Middle Grades

Authors of chapters in Section V will discuss the ways in which researchers have framed problems associated with academic programming in the middle grades. How have researchers conceptualized specific features of academic programs including grade configuration, curriculum, pedagogy, assessment, and extra-curricular offerings? What problems related to academic programs have been the focus of research in middle level education, and what new insights have these studies yielded? Authors of chapters will review studies related to:

  • Grade configuration – Bridging primary and secondary programs
  • Grouping students for learning
  • Common planning time
  • Advisory programs
  • Exploratory and co-curricular learning opportunities 
  • Scheduling
  • Recreation, play, and extracurricular activities 
  • Pedagogy
  • Student assessment
  • Curriculum design and implementation
  • Student-centered schooling

Section VI. Middle Level Educator Preparation and Development

Despite the firm link between teacher quality and positive student outcomes, specialized preparation for middle level teachers is not universally required, and unique preparation programs for principals and other school leaders are even more rare. In many places, policymakers and the general public continue to view the middle grades as upper elementary school, junior high school, or lower secondary school. How does one become a middle level educator? What are the pathways to the profession? How does public policy regulate and govern pathways to middle level teaching and administration, how have policy researchers analyzed and assessed the outcomes of these policies? Authors of chapters in this section may review research related to:

  • Pathways to the profession
  • Preservice education
  • Professional development and mentoring of middle level teachers
  • Educator quality assurance
  • The middle level principalship

Section VII. Policy Contexts

Public policy has a powerful influence on education at all levels, including the middle level. Through public policy, citizens regulate educator qualifications, determine levels of school funding, devise testing and accountability schemes, and establish academic standards for students to achieve. Education policies are often informed by local factors and reflect the cultural contexts in which they are formulated and implemented; however, education systems worldwide are increasingly exhibiting common policy responses to contemporary educational issues. Authors of chapters in Section VII will review public policy related to middle level education at multiple levels and in diverse contexts. Themes will include:

  • National education policy and middle level education in the U.S. and abroad
  • Middle level education and state- or provincial-level policy
  • Local governance – school boards, LEAs, and community influences
  • Politics and middle level education 
  • Global trends in middle level education policy 

Section VIII. Future Directions

As the field of middle level education matures, researchers will have opportunities to deepen existing lines of inquiry and explore new frontiers of knowledge. What opportunities and challenges will shape middle level education in the next decade? What vexing problems remain unsolved, and what questions remain unanswered? What questions remain unasked? Authors of chapters in this section will address these questions and propose new directions for research in middle level education. 


The complete manuscript will contain approximately 33 chapters of 5000-7000 words each. The style will follow the most recent edition of the publication manual of the American Psychological Association.


David C. Virtue, Ph.D.

Professor & Head of the Dept. of Curriculum & Teaching

Auburn University


  • Chapter proposals due January 15, 2018
  • Full chapters due August 1, 2018
  • Final edits to editor due December 1, 2018
  • Complete manuscript to Routledge due February 2019
  • Anticipated publication fall 2019

Adolescent Success Inc. (formerly MYSA Middle Years of Schooling Association) 

Adolescent Success,  P.O. Box 2175 Toowong 4066, QLD, Australia

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