A partnership between the school and parents has been identified as a best practice to increase graduation rates. 8th grade students worry about transitioning to high school. Adolescence is a confusing time for students due to the many emotional and physical changes that occur at this age. The 8th grade in middle school is nothing like 9th grade in high school. More students fail the 9th grade than any other grade level and more students drop out in 9th grade than any other grade. The success or failure experienced during this transition can be a turning point in the social and academic lives of students.

According to research

  • Success or failure during the 9th grade year often sets the tone for a student's entire high school career.
  • If a student is successful during 9th grade, there is a higher likelihood the student will graduate and enjoy the high school experience. (Silverthorn, 2005)
  • There is a higher risk of school-drop out related to negative school experiences. (Hussong 2007)
  • When parents are involved in their student's transition to high school, they tend to stay involved in their child's school experiences (MacIver 1990)
  • When parents are involved in their child's high school experiences:
    • Students have higher achievement. (Linver & Silverberg 1997, Paulson 1994)
    • Students are better adjusted. (Hartos & Power 1997)
    • Students are less likely to drop out of school. (Horn & West 1992)

What Parents Can Do to Assist with the Transition to High School

  1. Discuss high school course work and schedule with your child and guidance counselor in middle school. Find opportunities to visit the high school and talk about what it will be like.
  2. Set up a meeting with other parents of high school students to discuss what they encountered during this transition time; they are excellent resources.
  3. Stay involved in school during the middle school years so the transition will be easy for you into the high school environment. This will make you confident that your involvement makes a difference in your child's academic success.
  4. Seek information from teachers and guidance counselors to help you gain the knowledge and skills you need to monitor and guide your child's education and understand the critical role you play as your teen's advocate.

Tips for Getting Involved in Your Child's Learning Experiences

  • Get to know the teachers. Ask about their expectations. Find out how much time your child should spend on homework each night. Ask what is the best way to get in touch if you have questions.
  • Serve as an advisor for activities such as the school paper or chess club.
  • Be in the school. It is a great way to get a feel for what is going on.
  • Volunteer to chaperone school dances and drive kids to school sports competitions.
  • Go to school meetings and events.
  • Post a family calendar in a central place.
  • Write down important school dates, including parent meetings and due dates.
  • Talk it out. Show enthusiasm about the high school experience. It may rub off on your children.
  • Be prepared. The workload in high school is more demanding. Help your teen develop good study habits and organization.
  • Iron out the details. Make sure transportation arrangements are clear. Your teen needs to arrive at school with all necessary materials and be on time.
  • Lend an ear. High school is a big change. Be ready to talk about issues that arise, and be supportive and open to communication with your child.

Excerpted from Parental Information and Resource Center (PIRC): http://www.nationalpirc.org/resources/research-resources.html