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Making the Transition: The Impact of Moving from Elementary to Secondary School on Adolescents' Academic Achievement and Psychological Adjustment


  • Lipps, Garth


Early adolescence is a time of rapid social, cognitive, and physical change. For some youth, these changes can make this period a vulnerable point in development. Adding to the stress, some students transfer from an elementary school to a middle school or to a comprehensive high school. While the impact on youth of moving to a higher level of schooling has been the focus of intense research and debate in the United States, surprisingly little research has been conducted examining how Canadian youth make this transition within the context of Canadian schools. With this in mind, this paper examines the academic, behavioural and emotional adjustment of Canadian adolescents who transfer from an elementary school to a middle or comprehensive high school and compares their outcomes to those of a group of youth who did not change schools. Results of several statistical analyses suggest that changing schools had little systematic association to adolescents' academic outcomes. This held true regardless of whether the school was a middle school or a comprehensive high school. Similarly, transferring to a middle school had little negative association to adolescents' emotional and behavioural outcomes. Indeed, with respect to social aggression, the analyses suggested that students in middle schools may use indirect or socially directed aggression less frequently than students who remained in elementary school. However, transferring directly from an elementary school to a comprehensive high school appeared to have some negative emotional consequences. Youth who moved directly from an elementary school to a high school reported greater symptoms of physical stress. Further, female students who directly transfer to high schools at ages 12 and 13, reported higher levels of depressive affect than female adolescents who remained in an elementary school.

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  • Lipps, Garth, 2005. "Making the Transition: The Impact of Moving from Elementary to Secondary School on Adolescents' Academic Achievement and Psychological Adjustment," Analytical Studies Branch Research Paper Series 2005242e, Statistics Canada, Analytical Studies Branch.
  • Handle: RePEc:stc:stcp3e:2005242e

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    Education; training and learning; Students;

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