Middle School Matters is a privately funded education initiative that offers high-quality support and resources for the middle grades.

About Middle School Matters Initiative

The Middle School Matters Institute is an initiative of the George W. Bush Institute in partnership with The Meadows Center for Preventing Educational Risk at The University of Texas.  We partner with the nation’s leading education researchers and practitioners and draw upon decades of high-quality research to provide excellent support and resources to middle grades schools across the nation.


Our ultimate goal is to increase the number of students well-prepared for high school and post secondary success. We do this by drawing upon solid research to develop practical tools and engaging support opportunities for middle grade campuses, allowing research-based practices to be brought to life in classrooms across the nation.
Middle School Matters

The Importance of Middle School Video

Middle School Matters Field Guide

The second edition of the Middle School Matters Field Guide is a collection of research-based principles, practices, and strategies deemed essential for middle school success. All recommendations are based on rigorous research conducted in the middle grades over the past 15 years.
Middle School Matters

Who should use the field guide?

The field guide can be used by all middle grades educators, including principals, administrators, counselors, instructional coaches, teachers, and interventionists.

What content areas and grade levels are addressed?

The field guide principles and practices apply to all content areas (including science and social studies) and apply to 6th, 7th, and 8th graders (including students who are learning English).

How do educators use the field guide?

The field guide contains examples and illustrations for each recommended practice to help educators understand and then implement these practices in their classrooms and schools. Additional implementation support can be found in our Instructional Toolkits.
If you have any questions about the field guide or how to use it, please contact us at
Middle School Matters

Retrieval Practice

Improving Learning Through Retrieval Practice

Retrieval Practice involves engaging students in activities that require them to actively recall information that they have learned previously. This method has been demonstrated in a variety of classroom and lab studies. While it can take on a variety of formats, (i.e., discussion, writing, quizzing), retrieval practice is most effective when students are quizzed in a low-stakes setting such that they are practicing showing what they know.
Synonymous Terms: Retrieval Practice, Testing Effect, Test-Enhanced Learning
Explore professional development, videos, and instructional materials on the Retrieval Practice page.
Middle School Matters

Student Feedback Toolkit

Effective, Timely Feedback for Students

There are ways to provide students with formative feedback on assignments, activities, and assessments that promote increased learning. Feedback is most effective when it: (1) is delivered soon after the learning activity or at intermediate points throughout; (2) is specific; (3) does not represent a judgment or evaluation, and (4) provides students with a clear path toward improvement of their work.
Middle School Matters

The Middle School Matters Institute (MSMI)

No Subcontent exists.

Research-to-Practice Briefs