The 5th grade transitional middle school program is a research-based program designed to ease 5th graders into middle school. When schools implement a transition program to help students ease their way into middle school, the stress levels associated with transition are reduced and students’ social/emotional states, executive functioning skills, and academic achievement are improved.
To achieve that improvement the transition program ensures that all systems, policies, expectations, and curriculum instruction are clearly articulated and scaffolded over the course of the year. Expert teachers with subject specific knowledge and a vertically aligned curriculum provide students with academic support throughout the year. Additionally, 5th grade students take a year long study skills class that, through direct instruction, teaches students organizational skills, reading and listening strategies, notetaking techniques, testtaking strategies, study habits, time management, how to use thinking maps, research skills, character education and interpersonal skills, and how to use the Habits of Mind and have a growth mindset.
Following a yearlong action research assessment of NDAE’s 5th grade transitional middle school program completed by the University of Notre Dame during the 2014-2015 school year, both qualitative and quantitative data findings suggested that the 5th grade transitional middle school was both desirable and effective. In the areas of responsibility, organization, and executive functioning skills, students were perceived to grow tremendously.
“Persistence is part of me. I never like to give up at all and if I do I go back and try it later.” –Student
“The study skills component is amazing! It has helped [student’s name] understand his responsibilities and work independently.” —Parent
“The biggest area of growth between students in 5th grade this year and last year is that they are responsible for their assignments, independent, have adjusted to multiple teachers and expectations, and are not playing teachers against each other, but managing relationships and systems much more efficiently.” —Teacher
“I really am [ready for middle school] because you [the teachers] have made extra time to teach us about manners and time management and what the priorities will need to be once we get there.” —Student
“Explicit instruction of study skills has been fun to watch. You take for granted that they know how to use flash cards. It’s fun to see them gain agency over their own studying and do so with excitement and energy.” —Teacher