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A comparison of student perceptions on the transition from middle school to high school between a large suburban and smaller rural high school

Curtis R Case, University of Nebraska - Lincoln

Abstract

During the last thirty years the ninth grade year has become the major leak in the education pipeline. That is, more ninth graders drop out, are retained, and suffer declines in student performance than any other year from kindergarten through the twelfth grade. High schools and middle schools invest time and resources to improve student transition to the ninth grade. The purpose of this study was to determine the significance middle to high school transition activities had on a student's perceived level of success during the ninth grade year.^ Two ninth grade classes, one large suburban high school and one smaller rural high school, from a Midwestern state were selected for the study. Other than size, the schools were demographically very similar, in the upper socio-economic classification, successful academically, and with a majority Caucasian student population. Change in performance between the eight and ninth grade in the areas of GPA, behavior referrals, and absences were calculated for each student. Students with the greatest increases and decreases between the eighth and ninth grade year, were then selected from each high school for one-on-one interviews.^ More than two thirds of the freshmen in the rural high school experienced an increase in GPA between the eighth and ninth grade. Conversely, nearly ninety percent of the freshmen in the suburban high school suffered a decline in their GPA between the eight and ninth grade. In interviews, students reported that although enjoyable and worthwhile, the transition activities did little to contribute to their perceived level of success.^ The results of this study seem to indicate that middle to high school transition activities serve a meaningful, but temporal, purpose for ninth graders. Teacher behavior and homework practices/policies, rather than the transition programs, were cited by students as factors accounting for the differences in student performance during the transition from the eighth to ninth grade. Recommendations from this study include potential practices and studies in areas such as looping teachers and shared leadership between middle schools and high schools to improve and more closely align the practices and approaches of the two levels.^

Subject Area

Education, Administration|Education, Secondary

Recommended Citation

Case, Curtis R, "A comparison of student perceptions on the transition from middle school to high school between a large suburban and smaller rural high school" (2006). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3233744.
http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/dissertations/AAI3233744

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