Classroom practices with high-achieving students: A national survey of middle school teachers

Date of Completion

January 1998


Education, Educational Psychology|Education, Special|Education, Secondary|Education, Curriculum and Instruction




The Middle School Classroom Practices Survey was conducted to determine the extent to which high achieving seventh grade students received differentiated education in regular classrooms across the United States. This research parallels previous work recently completed on third and fourth grade students by researchers at the National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented. The survey focused on self-reported information from teachers about their classrooms, districts, and their perceptions of pertinent middle school issues. Classroom practices, in relation to the curriculum modification for high achieving and average students, were analyzed. The survey sample was drawn from 1008 seventh grade teachers across the United States. ^ The questions that guided this study involved the extent middle school classroom teachers in heterogeneous classes believe they modify instructional practices and curricular materials to meet the needs of high ability students; the instructional practices used with high ability students in middle school classrooms across the country; and the differences in the types of regular classroom services provided high ability students in middle schools with and without interdisciplinary teams. ^ Results indicated that modifications for the high achieving students were limited and included variations in the content taught and in self-directed learning. Seventh grade teachers reported that they made only minor modifications in the regular curriculum to meet the needs of high achieving students. Teachers who provided modifications for high achieving students gave students content from a higher grade, asked students to synthesize information, and adjusted the pace for students who mastered the content quickly. However, these modifications were not unique to these students and were also made for average students in the heterogeneous classroom. In addition, this study found that teachers on interdisciplinary teams did not make content modifications or provide self directed learning opportunities more frequently for average or high achieving students than teachers not on teams. No meaningful differences were found to be made in curriculum for high achieving and average students in heterogeneous and homogeneous classrooms in different content areas. ^