The Trajectories of Adolescents’ Perceptions of School Climate, Deviant Peer Affiliation, and Behavioral Problems During the Middle School Years


  • We thank Cher Mikkola and Margaret Rundle for their feedback on the earlier version of this manuscript. This project was supported by grants DA 018760, DA 07031, and DA 13773 from the National Institute on Drug Abuse at the National Institutes of Health to Thomas J. Dishion.

Requests for reprints should be sent to Ming-Te Wang, University of Michigan, ISR 5110, 426 Thompson St., Ann Arbor, MI 48106. E-mail:


This longitudinal study examined trajectories of change in adolescents’ perceptions of four dimensions of school climate (academic support, behavior management, teacher social support, and peer social support) and the effects of such trajectories on adolescent problem behaviors. We also tested whether school climate moderated the associations between deviant peer affiliation and adolescent problem behaviors. The 1,030 participating adolescents from eight schools were followed from sixth through eighth grades (54% female; 76% European American). Findings indicated that all the dimensions of school climate declined, and behavioral problems and deviant peer affiliation increased. Declines in each dimension were associated with increases in behavioral problems. The prediction of problem behavior from peer affiliation was moderated by adolescents’ perceptions of school climate.