Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 42, Issue 9, pp 1372–1384 | Cite as

Changes in Academic Adjustment and Relational Self-worth Across the Transition to Middle School

  • Allison M. Ryan
  • Sungok Serena Shim
  • Kara A. Makara
Empirical Research


Moving from elementary to middle school is a time of great transition for many early adolescents. The present study examined students’ academic adjustment and relational self-worth at 6-month intervals for four time points spanning the transition from elementary school to middle school (N = 738 at time 1; 53 % girls; 54 % African American, 46 % European American). Grade point average (G.P.A.), intrinsic value for schoolwork, self-worth around teachers, and self-worth around friends were examined at every time point. The overall developmental trajectory indicated that G.P.A. and intrinsic value for schoolwork declined. The overall decline in G.P.A. was due to changes at the transition and across the first year in middle school. Intrinsic value declined across all time points. Self-worth around teachers was stable. The developmental trends were the same regardless of gender or ethnicity except for self-worth around friends, which was stable for European American students and increased for African American students due to an ascent at the transition into middle school. Implications for the education of early adolescents in middle schools are discussed.


Early adolescence Middle school Self-worth Academic adjustment 


Author contributions

AR conceived of the study, participated in its design and coordination and drafted the manuscript; SS performed the statistical analysis, created all tables and drafted the results section of the manuscript; KM conceived of the study and helped draft the introduction and discussion of the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Allison M. Ryan
    • 1
  • Sungok Serena Shim
    • 2
  • Kara A. Makara
    • 1
  1. 1.University of MichiganAnn ArborUSA
  2. 2.Ball State UniversityMuncieUSA

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