All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Dennis K Gurley

Advisory Committee Members

Jenna Lachenaye

William B Rogan

George Theodore

Phillip Westbrook

Document Type

Dissertation

Date of Award

2017

Degree Name by School

Doctor of Education (EdD) School of Education

Abstract

INTERVENTION STRATEGIES THAT SUPPORT MIDDLE SCHOOL STUDENT TRANSITIONS TO HIGH SCHOOL: A GROUNDED THEORY STUDY OF BEST PRACTICES IDENTIFIED BY MIDDLE SCHOOL PRINCIPALS LARRY PARKER HAYNES DOCTOR OF EDUCATION ABSTRACT Adolescent students experience many challenges as they navigate their way through psychological, physiological, and emotional transformations with the onset of puberty (Wigfield, Lutz, & Wagner, 2005). Because the majority of the research investigates the transition from elementary to middle school, more research is necessary in regard to how middle school and high school environments can reinforce needs of students all the way through the middle-school-to-high-school transition (Caskey, 2011; Uvaas & McKevitt, 2013). The purpose of this grounded theory study was to examine middle school principals’ practices and behaviors in transitioning students from middle-school-to-high-school and to create a theory of best practices for supporting a smooth transition for students from middle to high school. The central research question was “How do middle school principals in selected schools in Alabama describe best practices in implementing transition activities that nurture and acclimatize students while preparing them for the challenges they will encounter at the high school level?” For the research study, I incorporated a qualitative, grounded theory approach with 11 successful, veteran middle school principals of high performing, suburban middle schools. Each principal participated in semi-structured interviews. The participating principals indicated a high degree of consensus in their philosophies on challenging, yet supporting and preparing students throughout their journey from middle school to high school. Participating principals noted the importance of maintaining high expectations while providing students with continuous nurturing, support, and opportunities to develop into responsible and self-sufficient young adults. These principals built positive school environments through the promotion of a shared vision based upon regular collaboration among all stakeholders, which included teachers, parents, and students. Participating principals also affirmed the middle school concept’s practice of exposing students to rigorous and engaging academic classes, a variety of career exploration and elective course offerings interwoven with opportunities to teach positive character, soft skills, and self-advocacy. Over half the schools incorporated the middle school procedure of interdisciplinary teaming. These findings reaffirm the benefits of student-centered schools with effective administrators and teachers who seek continuous improvement, practice professional collaboration, implement student-centered programs/interventions, and make decisions based upon the best interest of the students.

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