Moving from Elementary to Middle School: Supporting a Smooth Transition for Students with Severe Disabilities

By Carter, Erik W.; Clark, Nitasha M. et al. | Teaching Exceptional Children, January/February 2005 | Go to article overview

Moving from Elementary to Middle School: Supporting a Smooth Transition for Students with Severe Disabilities


Carter, Erik W., Clark, Nitasha M., Cushing, Lisa S., Kennedy, Craig H., Teaching Exceptional Children


Excitement, apprehension, curiosity, and concern-the transition to middle school is often accompanied by a mix of such emotions. For some students, middle school represents a new milestone-an indicator that they are approaching young adulthood. Simultaneously, it can be a time that evokes anxiety, uneasiness, and worry (Akos, 2002; Mullins & Irvin, 2000). Parents wonder what middle school will be like for their children:

* How will they adjust to social pressures?

* Will they be able to keep up academically?

* Will they make friends?

* Will they be excited about going to school each day?

For students with severe disabilities, adjusting to a new school environment can be particularly stressful and even more challenging. In this article, we draw from the research literature to illustrate how educators can support students with severe disabilities and their families as they make the transition from elementary to middle school.

Changes in Middle School

The middle school years are accompanied by a number of changes for students and their families (Chung, Elias, & Schneider, 1998; Schumacher, 1998). What makes middle school so different from elementary school? What changes might students and their families expect?

Although variations exist across schools and districts, the transition from elementary to middle school typically involves moving from a smaller, tight-knit school community to one that is substantially larger and sometimes less personal (Irvin, 1997). In many elementary schools, students spend the majority of their school day with just one or two educators and a familiar cohort of peers. Upon entering middle school, however, students experience rotating classes, during which they may encounter different classmates and teachers each class period. Moreover, teachers' expectations and rules sometimes fluctuate from one class period to the next, requiring students to adjust their behavior to changing expectations.

The instructional context changes in middle school as well (Clements & Seidman, 2002; Midgley, Middleton, Gheen, & Kumar, 2002). Classes become more demanding, requiring coverage of more course content, a heavier emphasis on grades, and, of course, more homework. Educators expect students to assume increased responsibility for their own academic and behavioral performance while providing less individualized attention than students received during the elementary years. At the same time, the gap between the academic performance of students with severe disabilities and their classmates without disabilities widens, increasing the challenges associated with ensuring that all students are accessing the general curriculum.

As adolescence approaches, students also experience rapid social, emotional, cognitive, and physical growth. These developmental changes make the middle school years an especially awkward and complicated time for students. For example, relationships with peers take on increasing importance during adolescence, and students experience growing concerns about making friends, fitting in, and avoiding teasing (Pelligrini & Long, 2002). For students with severe disabilities, who characteristically exhibit social skills deficits compared with their peers (Downing, 1999), any sense of belonging enjoyed during elementary school may give way to feelings of isolation. Moreover, as general education students become more preoccupied with fitting in among peer groups, they may be less inclined to maintain or develop friendships with students with disabilities (e.g., Kishi & Meyer, 1994)

Importance of Addressing Hie Middle School Transition

Although the transition to middle school can pose a challenge for any student (Chung et al, 1998), children with disabilities are at particular risk for difficulties (Weldy, 1995). Elementary and middle school educators must find effective and meaningful ways of supporting these students' transitions to ensure that all students are confident, knowledgeable, and well prepared as they begin their new school experience. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Moving from Elementary to Middle School: Supporting a Smooth Transition for Students with Severe Disabilities
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.