School of Education


Doctor of Education (EdD)


Barbara A. Boothe


Freshman Academies, High School Rresilience, High School Transition, Ninth Grade Transition, Small Learning Communities, Stage-environment Fit


Curriculum and Social Inquiry | Education | Educational Assessment, Evaluation, and Research | Educational Psychology | Other Education | Student Counseling and Personnel Services


Student success or failure during the transition to high school is an accurate predictor of student success beyond the ninth grade. In an attempt to support students during this transition, many schools across the nation have implemented small learning communities called freshman academies to bridge the apparent gap in achievement between middle and high school. Research has linked freshman academies and ninth grade success in terms of test scores (Styron & Peasant, 2010). There is, however, little empirical research that examines the success of freshman academy students in terms of promoting resilience and other factors during this time of risk. Therefore, this correlational study tested the resilience and stage-environment fit theories by exploring the relationship between student perceptions of the freshman academy environment and student resilience in terms of academic achievement (grade point average), socio-emotional adjustment, and school confidence. Each of the research hypotheses was analyzed using Spearman’s rho to relate students’ perceptions of the freshman academy to each of the criterion variables. The research failed to reject the first null hypothesis, as there was not a statistically significant correlation between school environment and academic achievement. However, the research rejected the last two null hypotheses, proving that there was in fact a statistically significant correlation between school environment and perceived socio-emotional adjustment and school confidence. The researcher concluded that freshman academy success is linked more to the social aspects of the high school transition than to the academic aspects.