The Middle Level Leadership Center (MLLC) is a service of the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis (ELPA) and the College of Education at the University of Missouri-Columbia. Staffed by a Director, Professor Jerry Valentine, and Ph.D. graduate assistants specializing in middle level leadership, the mission of the Center is to develop and disseminate current knowledge about best practices in school leadership and support school improvement initiatives at the middle school, junior high school, and intermediate school levels.

The Center contracts with professional organizations and individual schools throughout Missouri and the nation. The centerpiece of MLLC’s school improvement work is Project ASSIST (Achieving Success through School Improvement Site Teams). An array of school improvement instruments, including surveys of school culture, school climate, principal leadership, team leadership, empowerment, instructional practices, and student perceptions of school programs, are available through the Center. Training in the use of the Instructional Practices Inventory, a process for establishing a school-wide profile of instruction, is also available.


The Middle Level Leadership Center (MLLC) was established in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis at the University of Missouri in the fall of 1997.  The following clarifies the mission and vision of the Center.


To positively impact the quality of school leadership and thus the quality of schooling for middle level students.


To promote the high quality of leadership and education at the middle level, Center staff members develop and disseminate knowledge about effective leadership and educational practices at the middle level.  To accomplish the Center’s mission, the following goals were established.


To identify, design, and conduct research about critical issues in middle level leadership.

MLLC accomplishes this goal by conducting field-based research in middle schools and by analyzing and synthesizing the knowledge about leadership that already exists in the literature.  The Center also makes a long-range impact on the field by employing doctoral students who develop their research, writing, service, and presentation skills while carrying out the Center’s work.

To design and implement processes for the dissemination of current knowledge about middle level leadership to practicing school-site leaders, university faculty, and leaders of professional organizations and educational agencies. MLLC is involved in numerous forums for dissemination of knowledge.  It is responsible for producing a series of research summaries for the National Middle School Association and has produced a series of monographs for NASSP’s National Alliance of Middle Level Schools.  Center staff members regularly present at national educational conferences and produce manuscripts for professional journals.  The Center also maintains a website that disseminates in electronic form much of the work mentioned above.To work with middle level leaders and school faculty to translate existing knowledge into effective school practices. MLLC’s primary service activity is Project ASSIST (Achieving Success through School Improvement Site Teams), a school based, comprehensive, systemic reform process.   Staff members also consult with schools and districts interested in comprehensive, systemic change, improvement of existing middle level educational practices, and development of teacher and administrator leadership competencies.To establish and maintain collaborative relationships with other professional organizations committed to middle level education.

MLLC works both formally and informally with national organizations who have a mission of improving leadership and educational practices at the middle level.  The Center produces publications, makes presentations at national conferences, and consults with these organizations’ leaders in collaborative efforts to influence and improve the knowledge and practices of middle level leaders, and thus middle level education.