The Essential Components of a Comprehensive Ninth Grade Transition Program: A Delphi Study
Healey, Timothy L.
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The transition to high school is a critical juncture of a student's educational career. The type of ninth grade transition program a high school has in place can be a deciding factor regarding whether students 'make it or break it' during their first year and, ultimately, have success throughout all of high school. Currently, resources are available about different aspects of the ninth grade transition, but nothing provides principals with a research-based and practitioner-endorsed comprehensive approach to designing and implementing a ninth grade transition program. A comprehensive approach starts with proper goals and objectives, includes essential specific components and ingredients needed in a ninth grade transition program, and requires data or measures to judge the effectiveness of the program. Therefore, a Delphi study was undertaken to answer the following research question: What should be the goals/objectives of a comprehensive ninth grade transition program (i.e., academic success alone or are there other things that also are important)? The secondary questions focused on the components or ingredients that are essential and how to evaluate the success of a ninth grade transition program. This Delphi study included three rounds during which data were gathered from a 20-member panel of experts that included both national leaders and education practitioners. The panel produced 21 consensus items on goals/objectives of a ninth grade transition program, 10 consensus items on essential components of a ninth grade transition program, and 15 consensus items on the data/measures to evaluate the success of a ninth grade transition program. Results indicated that transition programs need to address both academic and social/emotional needs of students. The data provided evidence that principals need to take great care in teacher quality, instructional practices, and a systematic approach to monitoring the performance of ninth grade students as well as ensuring students make a positive connection with an adult in the school.
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