Research on Adolescence

With powerful research on positive youth development, we can reimagine the middle school experience in a way that recognizes the strengths of our youth. Building from an understanding of what young adolescents need, Remaking Middle School Summit participants will begin to generate solutions to transform the middle grades and build a national vision for shifting the middle school experience to a positive one for all youth.

Working Papers

The Remaking Middle School Working Papers Series was commissioned to synthesize existing knowledge and evidence on dimensions relevant to the task of optimizing young adolescent learning. Each of the four working papers features a two-page brief summarizing the research.

  • Young Adolescent Development

    by Joanna Lee Williams, Lauren C. Mims, & Haley E. Johnson

    The first paper in the series describes the physical, cognitive, identity-related, and social development that young adolescents undergo— and highlights the educational and equity-driven supports they need to navigate those changes. The paper also details how these changes can help practitioners structure a more developmentally-appropriate middle school experience for all young adolescents.

    Full Paper
  • Climate, Culture & Community: Building A Positive School Climate for Young Adolescents

    by Katrina Debnam & Jessika Bottiani

    The second paper in the series explores how schools can create a positive school climate for young adolescents. The paper adapts the U.S. Department of Education’s comprehensive model for understanding school climate—based on engagement, safety, and environment—to demonstrate the importance of these three domains. It also describes how to build a positive school climate that meets the educational needs of young adolescents.

    Full Paper
  • Optimizing Teaching & Learning in the Middle Grades

    by Penny A. Bishop & John M. Downes

    The third paper in the series addresses what schools can do to create developmentally-responsive, evidence-based teaching and learning experiences in the middle grades. The authors focus on a series of educational and instructional opportunities that support autonomy, foster belonging, and promote academic and social competence, all of which are long-standing needs for young adolescents.

    Full Paper
  • Leading for Young Adolescent Development: Prioritizing What We Know Matters

    by Coby Meyers, Karen Sanzo, & Julia Taylor

    The fourth and final paper in the series highlights how education leaders at all levels can support young adolescent development. Authors detail each of the strategies to achieve this aim, focusing on how education leaders should create a shared vision of developmentally-appropriate middle grades education, strengthen organizational structures and processes, and prioritize developmentally-responsive leadership.

    Full paper