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The Transition to High School: Current Knowledge, Future Directions

Abstract

In the American educational system, school transitions are frequent and predictable, but they can disrupt student functioning across developmental domains. How students experience school transitions has been a focus of research for some time, but the high school transition has received less attention, and the limited research often focuses on a particular developmental domain (e.g., academics and socioemotional well-being) to the exclusion of a more integrated model. This review relies on life course theory to establish an organizational framework for interpreting and connecting the diffuse and sometimes disparate findings on the high school transition, including adolescent developmental trajectories and the influence of social ties, changing sociocultural contexts, and stratification systems. Conclusions identify aspects for future inquiry suggested by current knowledge and the tenets of the life course perspective.

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Acknowledgements

This research was supported by grants from the Spencer Foundation, the Haynes Foundation, and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (F32 HD056732) to the author and a grant from NICHD to the Population Research Center (R24 HD042849; PI: Mark Hayward). I would like to thank Glen Elder Jr., Robert Crosnoe, and Sandra Graham for their helpful suggestions on earlier drafts of this manuscript.

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Benner, A.D. The Transition to High School: Current Knowledge, Future Directions. Educ Psychol Rev 23, 299 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10648-011-9152-0

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Keywords

  • School transition
  • Adolescence
  • Life course theory
  • High school