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A Summative Evaluation of a Comprehensive 9th Grade Transition Program
AuthorRoybal, Victoria Marie
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The transition from 8th grade to 9th grade is one that is replete with challenges for students, especially for minority students who live in economically disadvantaged communities. One low-income, high minority comprehensive high school in the western United States implemented five separate strategies to create a freshman transition program to aid its students in the move from middle school to high school. This study employs Stufflebeam's (2003-b) CIPP Program Evaluation model to determine the context, input, process, and product of the freshman transition program. A mixed-methods design was used to conduct the evaluation. Context, input, and process were determined through a qualitative analysis of transcripts from semi-structured interviews of key personnel in the implementation of the program; the product, or student outcomes of the program, was determined through analysis of student achievement, attendance, and behavioral data using a semi-longitudinal design with a cohort model. Data was obtained regarding students' overall credit attainment, core credit attainment, grade point average (GPA), average daily attendance, number of students with at least three referrals to the discipline office, and pass rates for the state's high school exit examinations in math and reading. Cohorts were followed from the beginning of their 9th grade year through the end of the 2009-2010 school year. A Comparison Group was followed for 9th through the 12th grade, Cohort 1 was followed for 9th through 11th grade, Cohort 2 was followed for 9th and 10th grade, and Cohort 3 was followed for 9th grade. Comparisons were made using descriptive statistics for each group's short-term (9th grade) and medium-term (10th and 11th grades) outcomes. Furthermore, 12th grade data for the school years from 2006-2007 through 2009-2010 was compared for graduation rates. All data was also reviewed by gender, ethnicity, and special populations (Limited English Proficient and Special Education). Results from the qualitative component of the study revealed that relationships, communication, and student success were key factors in the implementation of the transition program, for all five strategies. The process of the implementation led to a change in climate to one of openness and respect, in turn creating a cultural shift towards a learning organization. The quantitative results pointed to limited growth by the third year of implementation for credit accrual and a rising level of disciplinary infractions. GPA and core credit accrual had not changed from one group to the next, however. Therefore, the transition program appeared to have limited effects on students, though it appeared to be beginning to have an impact on students' medium-term outcomes for the first cohort, and on all outcomes by the third group to participate.