Supporting Transition of At-Risk Students Through a Freshman Orientation Model

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D)


Educational Administration

Date of Award

Summer 2012


The transition years in any school environment challenge students to face new learning landscapes and environments that spark different reactions for every student. For this reason, many students need more support from the teachers, counselors, parents, and other adults in their lives to help them cope with the changes they are facing. The purpose of this quantitative experimental study was to examine the issues surrounding middle school students transitioning to high school and the degree in which freshman orientation models can help them. The researcher evaluated a freshman orientation model used in a large suburban school district to measure its degree of success and impact on at-risk students. The concern for students transitioning from middle school to high school is not a new topic of concern in education among teachers, administrators, and parents. There is a large body of research to support the fact that many students struggle their freshman year of high school and can fall behind or even dropout of high school. The concern is even greater for at-risk youth; therefore, this study addressed the need to provide at-risk freshman an orientation to high school 2 weeks prior to the start of their freshman year as a method to help prepare them to be successful during this time of transition and throughout their high school career. Analysis of quantitative data revealed that at-risk students who participated in the On the Block transition program experienced significant gains in several areas. The results from this study confirmed results and recommendations from previous researchers on the topic of freshman transition. Significant gains were evident in science end of course exams, math, science, and English report card grades, as well as in discipline and attendance data. Qualitative data was analyzed to gain parent perceptions of the On the Block program. Parents displayed positive perceptions of the program and indicated the program was a great support for their children.


Casey Brown

Subject Categories

Education | Educational Administration and Supervision