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9th grade on-track rates are more predictive

of graduation than all background factors combined.


  • Students who are on-track at the end of their 9th grade year—earn at least a quarter of the credits needed for four-year graduation and receive no more than one “F” in a core course—are as much as four times more likely to graduate from high school than their off-track peers. In fact, the 9th grade on track metric is more predictive of a student’s likelihood of graduating than race, ethnicity, poverty level and prior test scores combined. (Allensworth, 2013)

  • By implementing the “Freshman Success Approach” developed by the University of Chicago Network for College Success, Chicago Public Schools increased 9th grade on track rates by an astonishing thirty-three percentage points since 1999 and its graduation rates rose by twenty-five percentage points over that same time frame. (University of Chicago, 2018)

  • The number of unexcused absences quadruple from 8th to 9th grade. (Allensworth, 2013)

  • Students across the 8th grade achievement spectrum experience significant grade declines in all subject areas when they transition to high school. (Rosenkranz, T., de la Torre, M., Stevens, W.D., & Allensworth, E.M. (2014). Free to fail or on-track to college: Why grades drop when students enter high school and what adults can do about it. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research)

  • Nationwide, 9th graders are three to five times more likely to fail a class than students in any other grade. (Southern Regional Educational Board, 2002)

  • For every full-year course that a 9th grade students fails, their chance of graduating in four years decreases by 30%. (Nield, 2009)

  • 70-80% of all students who failed 9th grade will not graduate from high school. (Wyner et al. (2007). Achievement Trap: How America is Failing Millions of High-Achieving Students from Lower-Income Families. Jack Kent Cooke Foundation.)

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