Strong Transitions Start Students on Track

Ninth Grade Success | 09/24/2021

Claire Bresnahan
Communications and Operations Manager

Research shows that the transition to high school is not easy for many students and attendance often declines in the 9th grade. If left unaddressed, this easily translates into lower academic achievement and over time dropping out of high school.” Attendance Works

September is Attendance Awareness Month, and we are proud to highlight the work of schools we partner with through our Center for High School Success (CHSS) across Colorado.

This summer, five CHSS partner schools across Colorado formed the High School Transition Network (HSTN), which focused on accelerating student engagement by fostering successful 8th to 9th grade and 9th to 10th grade transition programs. This network served a total of 2248 students and 435 families. Participating HSTN schools included: Poudre High School in Fort Collins, Prairie View High School in Henderson, CO; Pueblo D60 Central High School; Jeffco’s Arvada High School, and Denver Public School’s Abraham Lincoln High School.

Transition Programming

With the support of a Recovery Summer Coalition Grant managed by Colorado Education Initiative and Early Milestones Colorado, HSTN schools planned and facilitated high-quality transition programming, such as Orientation Days and Welcome Weeks, and meaningful family and student outreach to foster engagement and increase attendance.


At Poudre High School’s Welcome Week, for example, nearly 100% of ninth grade students participated in the planned daily activities, which included “a modified schedule and structured lessons focused on connections between students and their teachers and connections with one another.”

Students participate in Welcome Week activities at Poudre High School Source: Poudre High School 

Student Leadership and Relationship Building

One hundred student leaders participated in the planning and facilitation of the Poudre High School programming, increasing opportunities for both leadership development and relationship building with other students. One student leader shared that a ninth-grade student was looking for a partner to play in the cornhole tournament, so they joined them. They built a connection around music and had lunch together the next day.

A senior at Central High School who supported Central’s Boot Camp said, “I want the kids to know that they are welcome here and will be happy in a place they can call their home school.”

Credit Recovery

Schools in the Network also provided opportunities for off-track students to gain the credits they need towards graduation. For example, at Arvada High School, 279 students recovered 478 credits needed towards graduation. Fifty-three of those students are now caught up and on track to graduate.

Note: The Colorado Center for High School Success (CHSS) partners with 16 high schools across Colorado committed to becoming communities where all students excel academically, and race and socio-economic status do not predict success. We help our partner schools significantly increase the number of 9th graders who finish the year on track to graduate.

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