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A number of studies have documented a normative decline in academic achievement across the transition from elementary school to middle or junior high school. The current study examined the effectiveness of varying levels of a social-emotional learning intervention, "Talking with TJ," in limiting achievement loss across transition. Data were gathered on 154 students during their fifth and sixth grade years in an urban, low socio-economic school district. Students participated in the "Talking with TJ" program over their fifth grade years, and curriculum fidelity in individual classrooms was evaluated. Changes in grade point average were assessed across the middle school transition. Overall, students showed a significant decline in GPA across the transition. Students in classrooms where higher dosages of intervention were delivered showed significantly smaller drops in GPA across transition than did students in lower dosage classrooms. Data on differential program effectiveness among demographic groups and along varying levels of baseline emotional intelligence also are presented. Editors' Strategic Implications: The authors present promising findings for a school transition program, link dosage to effects, and raise interesting theoretical questions about the relationships between social-emotional learning and academic growth and achievement.

Decades of research have shown a normative decline in academic performance to be associated with the transition from elementary school to middle school. Based on the idea that these difficulties stem from a lack of relevant coping skills, the current study focused on the preventive effects of a three-year social and emotional learning (SEL) program in mitigating transitional achievement loss. Quality of implementation, a crucial, but often overlooked, factor in program evaluation, is the framework through which students' intervention experiences were defined. In each intervention year, implementation was assessed through teacher-reported curriculum fidelity and teacher's perception of program quality. These factors were tested as predictors of changes in GPA and standardized test scores across the transition. Intervention dosage received over the fifth grade year emerged as a significant predictor of GPA change. Dosage was unrelated to standardized test change, though differences between genders and ethnic groups in transitional standardized test performance were found. Teachers' ratings of program effectiveness were also unrelated to outcome, but were associated with intervention dosage.