Earlier this month we hosted our first ever Ninth Grade Success Institute. We brought over 40 educators from seven schools in five districts across Colorado together for two days of professional development focused on supporting students during that critical transition from eighth to ninth grade.
Schools were asked to bring a team of educators including their Ninth Grade Team Lead, a Ninth Grade Core Content Teacher, a Ninth Grade Counselor, a School Administrator, and an Attendance Specialist to collaborate and learn together. They learned about the research and practice-based evidence around how the ninth grade year is a key lever for improving graduation rates and college readiness, discussed new strategies to identify the systems and structures at their schools that have been designed to support 9th grade success, and spent time working as a team to practice using key information to strengthen systems for supporting ninth grade success at your school.
Cassie Poncelow, Freshmen Transition Counselor for Poudre High School said, “The value of having the time together as a team cannot be matched and that was the most significant part of our experience with the Ninth Grade Success Institute. There are several of us who have been engaging in this work for some time but to have the whole of our group there and for them to get a comprehensive view on the importance of the ninth grade year and the need for an equity lens to drive that was significant. The guided process of meaningful conversation, data-work, and application gave us next steps for immediate action. We are excited about the continued coaching as we use our data to make a difference for students at Poudre High School.”
And Liz Gorka, Assistant Principal for North High School in Denver Public Schools said, “Attending the Ninth Grade Success Institute with four team members from my school allowed us to really dig into the research and data around ninth grade success indicators, and evaluate where our school is hitting the mark and where we need to adjust. As a large comprehensive HS, we know how crucial Freshman year is for our students, and now we have a better sense of where we need to focus our efforts to make an even greater difference for our students.”
The Ninth Grade Success Institute is part of our new Center for High School Success (CHSS) work which supports schools in focusing on this critical eighth to ninth grade transition period. CHSS provides tailored supports to partner schools in real-time, which puts students on track to graduate before they have the chance to fall behind. We will host our next Institute this Spring.