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Middle School Transition: Building a Foundation of Educational Success

Peck, Andrea (2015) Middle School Transition: Building a Foundation of Educational Success. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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The purpose of the exploratory research study was to identify the practices that school principals in the state of Pennsylvania utilize to best support students, parents and school personnel before and during the transition to a middle level school. Research questions were designed to assist in determining what transitional practices schools are using, which practices principals’ rate most successful, to what extent transition program activities are aligned to the developmental needs (physical, cognitive, social-emotional) of young adolescents, how transitional practices compare between middle level schools that have and have not been identified nationally as a School to Watch and how practices vary by the grade configuration of middle level schools.
Quantitative and comparative coding qualitative analysis was used in the study and results indicated that transitional practice usage is valued by principals, yet implementation of transitional practices varies among schools. Time was reported as the most significant barrier to implementing transitional practices. The majority of practices used by schools are with students, yet practices lack in addressing students’ social-emotional needs. Practices aligned to cognitive needs of young adolescents are used more frequently and ranked most successful by principals. Principals indicated self-reported success and that the most common practice used with students prior to transition is an orientation day to the middle school and having an assembly about building rules, procedures and information is most successful and common during transition. Regardless of grade configuration, transitional practices used with school personnel remain the least frequently implemented by schools. Furthermore, student practices aligned to the physical developmental needs of young adolescents are more frequently implemented by schools that have been designated a School to Watch.
I used a web-based survey to gather data to examine the extent to which the transitional practices were implemented in schools. A sample of 96 middle level principals in Pennsylvania responded to the survey. Results from the study support the use of transitional practices with students and parents and educating staff about transition to build a stronger school community and foundation of educational excellence. Implications for professional development and future research are offered.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Peck, Andreaawp11@pitt.eduAWP11
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairGunzenhauser, Michaelmgunzen@pitt.eduMGUNZEN
Committee MemberTananis, Cynthiatananis@pitt.eduTANANIS
Committee MemberLongo, Gerardlongoj@pitt.eduLONGOJ
Committee MemberHilton,
Date: 18 May 2015
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 30 January 2015
Approval Date: 18 May 2015
Submission Date: 9 March 2015
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 172
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Education > Administrative and Policy Studies
Degree: EdD - Doctor of Education
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: The study explores the extent to which transitional practices are used by school principals and teachers in Pennsylvania to best support young adolescents during their transition to the middle level.
Date Deposited: 18 May 2015 17:43
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 14:26


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