Principals' perceptions of elementary to middle transition practices in Iowa middle level schools

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Ross, Amanda
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Donald G. Hackmann
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Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

The purpose of this study was to determine to what extent transition practices are used in identified Iowa public middle level schools, and why schools using those practices have selected them. This investigation used a mixed methodological approach, employing both quantitative and qualitative methods. The signature middle school practices of interdisciplinary teaming, advisor/advisee programming, and exploratory programming were examined by the use of transition practices used to acclimate parents and students coming from the elementary to the new middle level school. Additionally, the number of transition practices implemented for students and for parents was examined by (a) enrollment size of grade entering the middle level school, (b) the number of feeder schools, (c) the percentage of students qualifying for free or reduced lunches, and (d) having multiple middle level schools in the district.;A sample of 118 Iowa public middle level principals who met predetermined criteria were asked to complete a Transition Practices Inventory to determine what, if any, transition practices were used in their schools as well as their levels of use. Of the 118 principals, 72 responded. Significant findings included: (a) schools that most fully implemented the three signature middle school practices had higher levels of implementation of both parent and student transition practices, (b) higher levels of implementation of parent practices were reported by middle level schools in districts with multiple middle level schools, (c) schools with higher student enrollment at the entering grade employed higher levels of implementation of parent practices, and (d) middle level schools with multiple elementary feeder schools reflected higher levels of implementation of both student and parent transition practices.;Analysis of responses to the transition practices instrument identified four middle level schools in which the principals reported using a high number of transition practices. These principals participated in qualitative interviews to further analyze their use of transition practices. Findings from the qualitative interviews included high levels of communication between the elementary and middle level schools, consistency in spring orientation visits, but wide variances in other types of transition activities, and little use of data to inform transition practices.

Tue Jan 01 00:00:00 UTC 2002