MERC Publications

Document Type

Research Report

Original Publication Date


Date of Submission

June 2016


Making a transition to a new school causes anxiety for students and can challenge the coping skills of many adolescents, especially those at risk. Typically the move to a new school includes changes in school climate, school size, peer relationships, academic expectations, and degree of departmentalization. When adolescents move into middle school or high school, the anxiety is complicated further by other normative changes like puberty, social and emotional changes, the importance of peer relationships, and the development of higher order cognitive skills. Students who experience the stresses of numerous changes often have lower grades and decreased academic motivation, and they eventually drop out of school. Schools can prepare students for the transitions by becoming aware of students’ needs and by taking a proactive role in addressing those needs.

The transitions into middle school and high school each pose particular challenges to students. Weldy(1995) observes that the transition to middle school is especially unique because the organization of elementary schools and middle schools is so different. Students move from one primary teacher to a departmental program in a larger school with several teachers, a complex schedule, more students, and more involved rules and policies.

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VCU MERC Publications

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