Middle School Transition is Topic of Steinhardt Education Policy Breakfast Forum

“The experiences that kids have in middle school are poignant and strong and a lot of kids don’t recover from them,” said Eric Anderman, professor of educational psychology at Ohio State University at a recent NYU Steinhardt Education Policy Breakfast forum. Anderman noted that middle school transition does not have to be a bad experience, thought often that is the case.

Anderman was one of three speakers at ‘Navigating the Middle Years: Lessons from Educational Research and Practice to Facilitate School Transitions Among Youth.’ The forum, which brought together educators, policy makers, legislators, corporate and foundation heads, and faculty, explored the difficulty children have during their emotionally and cognitively challenging transition from elementary to middle school.

Anderman, whose research on adolescent achievement have been funded by the U.S. Department of Education, wondered if “a decline in motivation and achievement is inevitable” given “a mismatch between what children need developmentally and what we give them in school.” Anderman’s research shows that children who attend K -12 fare better than their peers who attend 6-7-8 middle schools.

Daniel Oscar, the president and CEO of the Princeton Center for Leadership Training, described how his organizations’ hands-on partnership with schools and communities has provided a foundation to help students navigate adolescent transitions.

“Our goal is to help schools find strategies to enhance a sense of belonging and ownership of learning,” Oscar said.

Elise Cappella, an assistant professor in Steinhardt’s Department of Applied Psychology, offered a framework for understanding the issues of theory and practiced that were raised in the forum.

‘Navigating the Middle Years’ is the second installment of Educational Transitions from Childhood to Adulthood: Research and Policy Initiatives, a three-part series offered by the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development.

Click on this link to view part 1, Strengthening Children’s Chances of School Success before Kindergarten: Integrating New Evidence from Research and Practice.

Photo (left to right): Steinhardt Dean Mary Brabeck, Daniel Oscar (Princeton Center for Leadership Training), Elise Cappella (NYU Steinhardt), and Eric Anderman (Ohio State University).