The school improvement model clusters 9th graders into a separate “Success Academy,” usually located on its own floor or wing. Within the academy, students take classes in small learning communities of up to 125 students that share the same teachers.
Students also take extended, 80- to 90-minute block classes and double doses of courses in mathematics and language arts and reading. Students spend their remaining high school years in small career academies, where they take courses integrating academic content with their career interests.
. . . The researchers found that the percentage of 9th graders passing algebra increased from an average of 33.1 percent to 61 percent in the Talent Development schools. In comparison, that number grew from 45.2 percent to 48.7 percent in the other district schools.
Likewise, 9th grade attendance rates rose 4.6 percentage points in the Talent Development schools, but declined by half a percentage point in the non-Talent Development schools.
TD students average 40 absent days a year versus 49 days off for non-TD students. Philadelphia’s school year runs 188 days, so these kids are missing 21 to 26 percent of instructional time.