Principals' perceptions of freshman academies

Melanie Danette James


Ninth grade is a peculiar time period for young adolescents. As a result of the unique social, physical, emotional, and academic problems that high school freshmen experience, schools across the country are establishing programs to address these needs of students transitioning from middle grades to high school. One such program is the freshman academy. The general purpose of this study was to determine principals' perceptions of their schools' freshman academies based on several independent variables. Through the use of a Likert scale, principals' perceptions were assessed. The dependent variable was the principals' perceptions. The independent variables of this study were derived from principals' personal characteristics, school demographics, and freshman academy demographics. Nine hypotheses were tested at the .05 level of significance. Eight of the nine hypotheses were not rejected because significant differences were not found between the means of the perceptions of the head principals and ninth grade principals for the independent variables. However, one hypothesis was rejected in which a significant interaction was found between principal type and the type of location for the school (urbanicity). The mean perceptions indicate that head principals in urban settings have less positive perceptions of their freshman academies than head principals in non-urban settings. However, ninth grade principals in urban settings have more positive perceptions of their academies than their counterparts in non-urban settings. Principals in this study have very positive perceptions of their freshman academies. Most of them strongly agree that their freshman academies have been successful so far and would recommend an academy to other schools. In addition, most of them believe that their schools would continue the freshman academy programs next year and for years to come. In general, these principals believe that freshman academies are effective means to easing the transition from middle grades to high school.