Navigating Middle Grades: Role of Social Contexts in Middle Grade School Climate

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

During early adolescence, most public school students undergo school transitions, and many students experience declines in academic performance and social-emotional well-being. Theories and empirical research have highlighted the importance of supportive school environments in promoting positive youth development during this period of transition. Despite this, little is known about the proximal social and developmental contexts of the range of middle grade public schools US students attend. Using a cross-sectional dataset from the eighth grade wave of the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Kindergarten Cohort 1998-1999, the current study examines the middle grade school social context from the perspectives of administrators and teachers in public schools with typical grade configurations (k-8 schools, middle schools, and junior high schools) and how it relates to students' perceptions of school climate. We find that administrators and teachers in k-8 schools perceive a more positive school social context, controlling for school structural and demographic characteristics. This school social context, in turn, is associated with students' perceptions of their schools' social and academic climate. Implications for educational policy and practice are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)28-45
Number of pages18
JournalAmerican journal of community psychology
Volume54
Issue number1-2
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2014

Keywords

  • Adolescent development
  • Educational policy
  • Middle grade schools
  • School climate
  • School reform
  • School transitions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Applied Psychology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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