Our closing-the-gap goal was to promote 50% of retained 9th graders by the start of the 2017-18 school year. It was created based on data from the 2015-16 school year since 9th graders have continued to be a major focus. We received data demonstrating retained 9th graders are at a significantly higher risk of not graduating high school or even graduating in four years. We have continued to see a decrease in the 9th grade retention rate since the 2014-15 school year when there were 163 retained 9th graders. In 2015-16 there were 101 retained 9th graders.
In October 2016, 74 9th graders were identified as retained. Of this original group, 54 were first-time retained 9th graders and 20 had been retained more than once (5 students entered high school in 2013-14 and 15 entered in 2014-15). Per PowerSchool, nearly half of these students, 36 students, were Hispanic and 33 students were Black. These two demographic groups made up most of the retained 9th graders, 48.65% Hispanic & 44.59% Black; 43 of the 74 retained 9th graders, 58.1%, were male and 31 students of the 74 retained 9th graders, 41.89%, were female. It has been challenging to keep track of how many of the original 74 retained 9th graders withdrew last year and we also acknowledge the possibility of having gained some new students, however, our current data shows that 45.5% of retained 9th graders were promoted by the end of 2017-18. The data indicates that the use of intervention strategies such as intentional scheduling and enrolling students in online credit recovery courses is a major factor in helping them be successful. A driving force behind our choice of intervention strategy of objective/credit recovery was the fact that it was suggested by the district. Our school operates on a A/B block schedule which can make it difficult to offer other intervention opportunities. Our Intervention Team, led by the Intervention Coordinator, includes our SAP Counselor, School Social Worker, Academic Coach, Dean of Students, School Psychologist and teachers. The team collected feedback from stakeholders and began discussing how to incorporate more opportunities for academic recovery plans. In previous years, our school has had Eagle Enrichment (EE), a 20-minute block of time (when our courses were 45 minutes long) built into the schedule, which allowed for students to see their teachers during the school day for extra help. For the 2016-2017 school year operating on an A/B day block schedule, we also lost our EE time. We have seen an impact, with teachers and students reporting the lack of time during the school day to have access to one another for extra help and tutoring.
During the 2016-17 school year, 19 retained 9th graders were promoted at the midyear point, and we held a promotion celebration. From June-August 2017, seven retained 9th graders were promoted by the start of the school year through the help of our “June Day” intervention and summer school. During “June Days,” students are allowed to recover courses during the last few days of June after graduation until the end of the month. Summer school is held from July to August. Interventions that were used with positive outcomes include: 1) Intentional course scheduling of enrolling students to recover credits through Gradpoint (online program) 2) Objective Recovery - students were also given an opportunity to complete specific modules in Gradpoint for a course they did not master and then replace the failing quarter grade with the lowest passing grade of 60. 3) Students were placed in Enloe’s Alternative Learning Center (ALC) -- a separate environment not connected with the administrative consequence-- that allows them to be placed with a teacher in a smaller setting for a set period of time. 4) The use of June Days and Summer School have helped to improve our retained ninth grade promotion rate and moving students back on cohort. The mindsets and behaviors M2 (Self-Confidence and ability to succeed) and BLS4 (apply self-motivation and self-direction to learning) are key factors as students who are retained need to possess their own motivation to get back on track with their cohort. The data from 2016-17 will help us to make adjustments in our 9th grade action plan for the 2017-18 school year. While we have found the Gradpoint program to be of great use and very effective, we will continue to collaborate with other schools to consider additional interventions, such as a form of SMART lunch or EE being returned to the schedule.