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Transition Programs


  • Establish transition programs in elementary to middle, middle to high school and high school to postsecondary grades to provide students additional supports preparing them for the upcoming year.


Youth regularly go through transitions – changing grade levels, changing schools, transitioning from school to work – however, such transitions are often left out of schools efforts to support students. Every transition can develop and increase problems or they could be a natural opportunity to promote positive learning, develop positive attitudes and promote social and emotional development. Research indicates (Cauley & Jovanovich, 2008):

  • More students fail ninth grade than any other grade of school
  • Poor and minority students are twice as likely as others to be retained
  • Among fourteen- and fifteen-year-olds who struggle with basic reading and mathematics skills, 20 percent drop out of school within two years
  • A study of fifty-six Georgia and Florida high schools found that schools with extensive transition programs had significantly lower failure and dropout rates than those schools that did not offer comprehensive programs

Schools need to address transitions proactively in order to enhance their own goals of supporting youth development. Examples of transition opportunities include welcoming new arrivals, providing ongoing social supports as students adjust to new grades or new schools, and using before and after-school and summer activities to support students’ academic and social-emotional development to promote success in school.

Transition programs are beneficial during any transitional time, and at any grade level (from home to kindergarten, from elementary to middle school and from middle to high school).

Best Practices

Use best practices in transition programming:

Offer CTE courses and AP/Reach Your Peak certification to engage students.



Students with Disabilities

Elementary to Middle School Transition Resources

Middle School to High School Transition

  • The Middle School Counselor
    A School Counselor's blog about a Middle School Counseling Office. This middle school counselor’s blog contains many helpful lessons and tips for engaging middle school students in the process of transitioning to high school. 
  • My Future My Way! (PDF)
    This postsecondary planning workbook for middle and high school students can be used by school counselors and teachers to assist middle and high school students in processing information related to their life after high school. This US Dept. of Education funded resource is not under copyright, so downloading and printing this workbook is free and unrestricted for use. 

​High School to College Transition

​College Summer Transition 

  • College Essay Writing Group
    Created by Allie Daniels, Professional School Counselor and College Advisor, this lesson plan includes 8-week group materials to help high school students stay connected to college plans through essay writing experiences during the summer months.

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Colorado Dept. of Education
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