Why 9th Grade Matters
9th grade has come to be well known as the make-or-break year. How well students perform academically in 9th grade can predict their future success. The first year in high school has a huge impact on whether students graduate. In fact, students who end 9th grade on-track are three times more likely to graduate from high school than their off-track peers. (toandthrough.uchicago.edu)
To be on-track means a 9th grade student has earned at least a quarter of the credits needed to graduate and received no more than one F in any course. Research shows that on-track status is a stronger predictor of high school graduation than race/ethnicity, level of poverty, and test scores combined!
At Stand Colorado, we prioritize policy solutions and implementation efforts to ensure that high schools across the state are implementing a 9th grade success approach, a proven strategy to improve graduation rates.
What’s happening in Colorado
In 2019, the Colorado state legislature created the Ninth Grade Success Grant Program. Informed by the research around 9th grade success, the grant supports schools to implement key components of a 9th grade success approach including establishing Ninth Grade Teams, implementing data systems and transition programs, and providing targeted instructional support for ninth grade students. Stand Colorado championed efforts to secure $800K for the Grant Program to maximize the number of Colorado students who finish 9th grade on-track.
There are currently nine Colorado school districts receiving funds through the grant. In Colorado, the Center for High School Success (CHSS), a Stand for Children program, partners with four of those districts, Denver Public Schools, Center Consolidated Schools 26JT, Poudre, and Pueblo 60, to increase 9th Grade On-Track Rates. Colorado’s Center for High School Success, which currently partners with eight total districts across Colorado provides coaching, training, collaboration, and data and technical support. In the 2021-22 school year, On-Track Rates in schools that partner with CHSS in Colorado grew an average of 19 percentage points, drastically increasing the number of students who will graduate in 2025.
It’s clear that implementing a focused 9th grade success is changing the trajectory for Colorado students. By ensuring that students finish their 9th grade year on-track, we ensure students graduate high school prepared for post-secondary success.
The Senate Education Committee is considering HB23-1231, Math in Pre-Kindergarten Through Twelfth Grade a bill to support math educators with evidence based training and interventions to help K- 12th grade students struggling in math. The bill also includes $1.6 million for the Ninth Grade Success Grant program to help ensure that more Colorado students finish their 9th grade year on-track and graduate high school prepared for post-secondary success.
Decades of research shows that ninth grade students who are on-track at the end of their first year of high school are as much as four times more likely to graduate from high school than their off-track peers. Ninth graders who earn at least a quarter of the credits required for graduation and receive no more than one “F” are on-track to graduate. Schools and districts implementing ninth grade success strategies are showing results. Implementing a focused 9th grade success approach is changing the trajectory for Colorado students.