Why Ninth Grade?

After decades of research with Chicago Public Schools, the University of Chicago’s Consortium on School Research found that staying On-Track during ninth grade means a student is four times more likely to graduate high school, regardless of their race, income or background. Now, in partnership with The Network for College Success (NCS), the University of Chicago is leading the way in student success strategies by sharing their findings with educators across the country.

At Stand, the implications of this research - including the demonstrated impact that focusing on Ninth Grade On-Track has had on graduation rates in Chicago schools - have laid the foundation for our work with Washington high schools.

Implementing a Ninth Grade Success strategy often involves a shift in mindset for high school educators. As young middle schoolers enter high school, their high school teachers and counselors can work together to make their transition as smooth as possible. We've detailed what is involved in the implementation of this type of approach in a three-part blog series discussing:

In Washington, state school administrators have already elevated the importance of the 9th Grade On-Track metric for students. The metric is now a part of our state’s ESSA plan and is tracked by the state superintendent’s office for every school. During the 2019 legislative session, lawmakers signaled the importance of the metric and the promise of the Ninth-Grade Success approach by allocating $250,000 for five school districts to pilot test Ninth-Grade Success in their high schools. (Stand for Children was a critical partner within the High School Success Coalition advocating for this legislation.)

Support Ninth Grade Success in Washington

Who's Talking About It?

New effort forms partnerships to help ninth-graders succeed in Central Washington
Yakima Herald-Republic, August 13, 2019

"Each school partnering with the center forms a ninth-grade success team made up of school staff such as freshmen teachers, counselors and attendance administrators. They are asked to meet regularly to identify students with potential needs, such as kids with poor attendance or previously failed classes. A plan is then drawn up to address each student’s individual needs."

Invest in Ninth Grade On-Track program
Seattle Times Editorial Board, April 10, 2019

"As education researchers have already discovered, success in the 9th grade is already positively connected with improved graduation rates. School districts across the state should be studying this OSPI program and doing their best to embrace its recommendations."

Invest in programs that boost high school graduation
Seattle Times Editorial Board, December 12, 2018

"Getting every Washington student to graduate from high school prepared for college and career opportunities is the state’s No. 1 goal. More attention must be focused on the high school experience. The Legislature should follow the lead of Stand for Children and put more money and energy into helping more students graduate."

Ninth-grade failure rates reveal much to state, local educators
The Columbian, May 14, 2018

"The freshman academy [at Evergreen High School] is one of several programs launched in recent years by area school districts to offer incoming freshmen who may have struggled in middle school extra academic and social support through their first year of high school."

State lawmakers advance legislation to encourage schools to make better use of student data
Seattle Times, February 23, 2018

"At high schools in places like West Seattle and the Franklin Pierce School District in Pierce County, have started reinventing the freshman year, using data to prevent more students from ever becoming at risk of dropping out. At Washington High just south of Tacoma, for example, the graduation rate has climbed to 87 percent since the school started paying more attention to freshman success."

How high schools break up the 'ninth grade bottleneck' to help students graduate on time
Seattle Times, September 2, 2017

"As research increasingly shows that ninth grade is a make-or-break year, educators around Puget Sound are reinventing the freshman experience to help all students early and often."

Ninth Grade: The Most Important Year in High School
The Atlantic, November 1, 2013

"Educators are honing in on three indicators—attendance, behavior, and course performance—that are believed to be the most accurate measurements of a student’s likelihood to either quit school or move on."

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