Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Education Systems Improvement Science

Committee Chair/Advisor

Dr. Noelle A. Paufler

Committee Member

Dr. Michelle Boettcher

Committee Member

Dr. Angela Carter

Committee Member

Dr. Daniella Hall Sutherland


The advisory period is a key component of a successful middle level experience for young adolescents. Advisory is designed to be a time when students build relationships with peers as well as one trusted adult, referred to as an advocate. During the advisory period, the academic and social-emotional needs of students are addressed. In order to address the vast and varying needs of a young adolescent, school leaders provide direction for specific structures to be put in place; however, there is a lack of teacher buy-in and student engagement.

This study utilized improvement science through the implementation of one Plan, Do, Study, Act (PDSA) Cycle to conduct a root causal analysis. The purpose of the study was to answer the research question: Why is the implementation of the advisory period challenging in a middle school? The findings indicated that there were three major causes of implementation challenges. First, the vision for the advisory program is disorganized. Second, the vision for the advisory program is inconsistently communicated to teachers, students, and guardians. Third, the requirements of an advocate are substantial and unsustainable.

In order to alleviate the challenges of the implementation of the advisory period in middle schools, there are six recommendations for future practice. It is recommended that school leaders create a clear vision, create targeted cycles of activities, implement a consistent daily schedule, redesign the student learning plan, determine norms for conferencing, and implement social-emotional learning (SEL) training for advocates. The implementation of any of these six interventions will help eliminate implementation challenges for teachers, thus, increasing teacher buy-in and student engagement.



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