9th Grade - The Most Important Year in High School
11/22/2013 Published by: Suzanne
“It’s a time of great upheaval and great opportunity.” So says Jon Zaff, director of the Center for Promise at Tufts University, in “Ninth Grade: The Most Important Year in High School” written by Michele Willens for The Atlantic. Teenagers face a whole gamut of issues when transitioning from Middle School/Junior High to High School and educators are paying attention as the stakes get higher for strong academic performance. Hormones bring growth and changes in the brain and behavior, and a new school building with greater academic expectations requires more independence. When these factors are combined, student anxiety is often the result.
Three indicators are considered accurate measures of the likelihood a student will quit school or graduate:
- Attendance – The goal is to be absent less than 10% during the first 30 days of 9th grade.
- Course Performance – The goal is to earn at least 5 full-year course credits with no more than one F per semester of a student’s 9th grade year.
With these issues and indicators in mind, some school districts are getting proactive about supporting these students in hopes of increasing retention and graduation rates (especially in “high-risk” student populations) by providing:
- After-school activities in athletics and the arts
- Academic programs during the summer before 9th grade
- Student aides available 24/7 to coordinate efforts between students, parents and schools
- A separate building on the high school campus for 9th graders
- “Commit to Graduate” matriculation ceremonies at the beginning of 9th grade
Are any of you seeing programs such as these developed and implemented by your local school district(s)? Let us know and share your thoughts on what families can do to ensure a successful high school experience and graduation for their student.
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