For the past several years, leaders in middle grades education research have strengthened their call for more methodologically robust quantitative research to address important questions in the field. Recently, two important routes towards addressing this call have emerged: the Middle Grades Longitudinal Study from the National Center for Education Statistics, and a new research agenda from the Middle Level Education Research Special Interest Group of the American Educational Research Association. Olofson and Bishop's (2018) paper found conducts a content analysis of the items in the forthcoming longitudinal study in light of the extant research agenda. Results indicate that research questions in eight sections of the agenda are moderately to well-addressed by the data, and that the longitudinal study will provide rich contextual data related to many others. The concurrent emergence of the research agenda and this data offers an opportunity for the research community to engage in high-level quantitative research with a middle grades lens to inform future policy.
The item-by-item crosswalk available here for download provides guidance for researchers using the Middle Grades Longitudinal Study data to address questions from the MLER research agenda.