Many students lose their way academically in ninth grade, never recover, and never graduate high school. Ninth Grade Academies aim to ease the transition into high school by creating smaller learning communities for ninth-graders. This report evaluates one urban school district’s effort to implement this complex reform districtwide.
Urban high schools are in trouble — high dropout rates, low student achievement, and graduates who are unprepared for the world of work are just some of the disappointing indicators. However, this policy memo, part of our “Looking Forward” series, explains how recent research has uncovered a number of approaches to improving student outcomes and reforming underperforming schools.
Findings and Lessons from First Things First
First Things First, a comprehensive school reform initiative, increased student achievement in Kansas City, Kansas, the first school district to adopt the reform model. It is not yet clear if First Things First is working in four other school districts in which it has been replicated.