Middle/High School

Middle and High School Students

Middle/High School is the phase of children’s education and development, usually representing grades 6 through 12, defined by adolescence, including a desire for increasing independence. 

In addition to providing an academic curricula, effective middle schools focus on social/emotional development, life skills and engagement.  And effective high schools provide support to enhance cognitive skills, engagement and the promotion of leadership.  A special focus of high schools is also to prepare students for their transition to post secondary education, vocational/education training, and initial entrance into the world of work.  

Prevention strategies begin in middle schools and continue into high school.

Prevention must be continuous, beginning in middle school and continuing into high school. Strategies that are implemented to promote positive supports and services during the middle school years are likely to positively impact students in their high school years. If there haven’t been effective prevention programs in middle school, then there have to be prevention programs or earlier cessation programs in high school. While high school has been a slightly less researched arena for prevention, there are effective programs available. 

Schools play an important role in identifying students who are at risk.

Students ages 12–18 are likely to have physical complaints when under stress, and they may be less interested in schoolwork or other responsibilities that they previously handled. Although some students may compete vigorously for attention from teachers, they also may withdraw; resist authority; become disruptive or aggressive at home or in the classroom, which may manifest as bullying-type behavior; or begin to experiment with high-risk behaviors, such as alcohol or drug use.

Transition from middle school to high school is a critical phase for all students.

A fundamental function of the initial middle level education movement was to facilitate young adolescents’ transition into high school (Gruhn & Douglass, 1947; McEwin, 1998; Vars, 1998). Furthermore, in recent years more and more middle schools are developing transition programs to address the particular needs of their students.


Safe and Supportive Schools Technical Assistance Center (Center) hosted a Webinar titled “Substance Abuse Prevention in Schools.” During the session, the presenter, Dr. William B. Hansen, President of Tanglewood Research, October 12 and 13, 2011.

Cognato, C. A. (1999, October). The effects of transition activities on adolescent self-perception and academic achievement during the progression from eighth to ninth grade. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the National Middle School Association, Orlando.

Gruhn, W. T., & Douglass, H. R. (1947). The modern junior high school. New York: The Ronald Press Company.

McEwin, C. K. (1998). Concepts of continuing importance. In R. David (Ed.), Moving forward from the past: Early writings and current reflections of middle school founders (pp. 35-39). Columbus, OH: National Middle School Association & Pittsburgh, PA: Pennsylvania Middle School Association.

Vars, G. F. (1998). You’ve come a long way, baby! In R. David (Ed.), Moving forward from the past:Early writings and current reflections of middle school founders (pp. 222-233). Columbus, OH: National Middle School Association & Pittsburgh, PA: Pennsylvania Middle School Association.

Hough, David, (2003).  A Bona fide middle school: Programs, policy, practice and grade span configuration – What current research says to the middle level practitioner. National Middle School Association, Ohio.

Thompson, K., & Prisbell, L. (1999, October). An alternative to retention: A middle school/high school transition program. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the National Middle School Association, Orlando.


Featured Resources

Image of hand as a trunk reaching out with leaves

Offers school and district administrators and staff a framework and roadmap for adopting a trauma-sensitive approach school- or districtwide. The Training Package includes a variety of resources for educating school staff about trauma and trauma-sensitive practices and for providing school leaders with a step-by-step process for implementing a universal, trauma-informed approach using package materials. 

Features past and present CDC researchers as they share their personal perspectives on historically important, CDC-led epidemiologic and laboratory investigations. This series will provide insight into the rich past of CDC and give the audience a chance to hear first-hand accounts from the responders.

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, a disease outbreak associated with tampon use sickened healthy women. In this presentation, CDC’s original disease detectives describe how they unraveled the link between Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) and high-absorbency tampons. Learn how their

Center for Disease Control and Prevention
Thumbnail cover photo - The Power of the Adolescent Brain

Reviews adolescent brain development and how it affects learning, health, and behavior. It features Dr. Frances Jensen of the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine. Drawing on clinical experience and research, and inspired by her personal experience parenting two teenage boys, Dr. Jensen shares what is known about adolescent brain development, functioning and capacity.

Frances Jensen

Outlines the relationship between bullying victimization and other variables of interest such as the reported presence of gangs, guns, drugs, alcohol, and hate-related graffiti at school. Provides alternatives with security measures, alternatives with avoidance behaviors, and weapon-carrying at school.

Skipping to Nowhere

Summarizes a survey of American middle and high school students who were missing school and asks them why they skip and what they perceive the consequences to be.

Get Schooled

Provides best practices and includes resources school leaders and teachers can utilize as they work to achieve a positive school climate, lower disciplinary issues and enhance school safety.

U.S. Department of Education
Thumbnail cover image - Out of School Off Track: The Overuse of Suspensions in American Middle and High Schools

Provides an analysis of data from districts on the number of students suspended just once during the school year and the number suspended more than once via the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) data collection.  

Daniel J. Losen & Tia Elena Martinez

 Teaches how to help prevent and address technology related incidents by building a cooperative relationship with schools. This free resource helps schools with the steps of incident management, such as fact-finding, documentation, reporting and engaging the appropriate school officials and other stakeholders. Through collaboration with law enforcement and the use of this tool, schools can plan and prepare an effective and appropriate response to all types of technology related incidents, including cyberbullying, sexting, hacking, and threats of violence

National Criminal Justice Training Center of Fox Valley Technical College

Resource for teaching and learning to use real-life Census Bureau data through school visits and other modes of outreach. The program is broken out into five core subjects: math, geography, sociology, English and history. Each of these subjects are clearly designated for K-12 grade-level appropriateness.

United States Census Bureau
Logo for the U.S. Department of Education

States that the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Education have withdrawn statements of policy and guidance regarding the Nondiscriminatory Administration of School Discipline, dated January 8, 2014, and related documents dated 2014, including the Guiding Principles. (Note: Previously posted School Discipline Guidance Package related materials posted on the former SSDCoP website are being revisited; the website will be updated on an ongoing basis.)

U.S. Department of Education
Building Supportive Relationships As A Foundation for Learning, from Youth in the Middle cover page

Presents a guide for middle school leaders that describes four work areas central to developing a whole-school youth development approach based on one school's process. The guide describes preliminary evidence of progress, and includes hyperlinks to tools that can be adapted to support similar efforts in other settings.

Kristin Geiser and Christina O’Guinn

Outlines strategies to assist schools and better support students and their families in the event of a tragedy. Added with this, highlights the significance of extending culturally responsive methods for schools to help students grappling with grief and trauma. It includes a list of related resources too.


Mental Health Technology Transfer Center Network

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