Normative school transitions are often accompanied by deterioration in students' socio-emotional, behavioral and academic adjustment, and poorer outcomes in later adolescence and young adulthood. The current paper describes a preventive intervention for students experiencing normative transitions into middle grade schools and junior and senior high schools-the School Transitional Environment Project (STEP). The program is based on a transactional-ecological model of preventive intervention that employs a school restructuring and transformation approach in order to prevent the deleterious effects of school transitions and create school environments that are developmentally enhancing. Core features of STEP seek to change the ecological characteristics of the school setting in ways that: (a) reduce the adaptational demands of coping with flux and complexity in new school settings; (b) increase access to and the provision of important emotional and academic/instrumental support and guidance from school staff and other students; and (c) increase the students' sense of connectedness and belonging within the school. The present paper reviews findings from prior trials of the School Environment Transition Project, and presents the results of two additional STEP studies. The first reports on a long-term follow-up of STEP students who received the project in a large, urban high school that served students whose families were largely on public assistance. Results of this study revealed approximately 50% reductions in drop-out rates and significant positive effects on school performance and attendance patterns. The second study reports on an extension of STEP to junior high schools and middle grade students. Consistent with earlier studies, during the transition year, students in STEP schools reported more positive experiences in school environment dimensions that STEP sought to impact, and better adjustment outcomes than non-STEP students across academic, socio-emotional, and behavioral domains.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Leadership and Management
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health