Date of Conferral
Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)
High schools have undertaken numerous approaches to reduce the number of first-time 9th grade students who do not move to 10th grade with their cohort. The purpose of this study was to determine if a summer program successfully transitioned 9th grade students from middle school to high school environments. Guided by the stage-environment fit conceptual framework, this study explored the effectiveness of a summer transition program at acclimating first time 9th grade students to physical, social, and academic environments. A mixed-method design was used in the study. A t test was used with a sample of approximately 400 archival 9th grader student responses to the Delaware School Climate Survey-Student. Statistical differences in familiarity with physical environments and perceptions of school climate were found between attendees and nonattendees, with attendees reporting better acclimation. A chi-square revealed greater course success for first-time 9th graders in the first marking period and lower 9th grader retention rate for attendees. Acclimation of 9th grade students as perceived by a sample of 10 teachers was explored through individual interviews and analyzed using the constant comparative method. Narratives from teacher interviews suggested acclimation to physical and social environments was greater for attendees. Study results led to development of a 1-day transition program aimed at utilizing effective transition program strategies with the entire upcoming 9th grade cohort. Long-term data collection and disaggregation is recommended to determine lasting effects of the program. Effective 9th grade transition programs may result in social change through increased promotion rates and higher graduation rates.