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School transitions are the conversions students go through as they change schools throughout their lives. These transitions play a major role in the development of young people’s decisions and serve as a milestone which can direct them in a number of ways. There are two main types of school transitions: normative school transitions and non-normative school transitions or transfers[1].

Normative school transitions[]

Normative school transitions refer to the transitions of students from elementary school to middle school and from middle school to high school. As each transition occurs, the student generally undergoes many different changes. These changes can be anything from an increase in the size of the school, to the change in friends that one meets. Every student adapts to normative transitions differently and there are a multitude of things that influence how easily or poorly they adapt. Race, gender, location, age, and academic ability all affect the transition[1]. According to Nick Broers from Maastricht University, the expectations students have when arriving to a new school are widely influential to how they will perform[2]. Often times it is among the first few weeks that students build the relationships and networks that collectively form these expectations.

Non-normative school transitions/transfers[]

School transfers refer to any transition in schooling when a child is moved from one school to another between normative transfers. These transitions are less common than normative school transitions but still happen fairly often. Often times people end up making non-normative school transitions by participating in what is called the school choice program[1]. This is a policy used by some school systems that spend public funds to give parents and students more of a say in their education. School choice often gives participants a variety of different types of schools to choose from including different charter schools, magnet programs, and tax credits for private schools. While choice schooling has seemed to cause a large increase in scores for private schooling, its effects on public schools tends to show less improvement[3]. Some believe that these problems in the public schools are actually a sign of increasing inequality. While choice schooling has made it both financially and institutionally easier for people to choose where they would like to attend school, many of the lower class families don’t have the resources to send their children to the farther away magnet schools or private schools. In most cases, the lower class parents send their children to the nearest school because there is a bus to pick them up. The wealthier families on the other hand tend to take advantage of the choice program and are able to attend the private schools and higher-rated public schools outside of the city.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 [1] Frisco, Michelle L. "School Transitions." Blackwell Encyclopedia of Sociology. Ritzer, George (Ed). Blackwell Publishing, 2007. Blackwell Reference Online. 13 November 2008
  2. [2] Könings, Karen, Saskia Brand-Gruwel, Jeroen Van Merriënboer, and Nick Broers. "Does a new learning environment come up to students' expectations? A longitudinal study." Journal of Educational Psychology 100 (2008): 535-48. PsycINFO. Academic Search Premier.
  3. [3] Davies, Scott. "School Choice." Blackwell Encyclopedia of Sociology. Ritzer, George (Ed). Blackwell Publishing, 2007. Blackwell Reference Online. 13 November 2008

See also[]