‘Ninth grade academy’ drops dropout rate

Sometimes, a news story can be heartening and depressing at the same time. At Detroit’s Southeastern High School, a ‘success academy’ for ninth graders cut the dropout rate dramatically: 56 percent of students moved on to 10th grade compared to 41 percent the year before. Most of those who failed to move on are still in school and some may be able to make up failed classes in summer school or through a special enrichment program.

“Some data suggests they drop out academically in the fourth grade, but their parents keep pushing and they physically drop out in ninth grade,” (Principal Brenda) Gatlin said. “We have to save them.”

The academy’s goal is to take advantage of the smaller setting: This year, teachers got to know freshmen by name. Students were able to focus on their studies rather than deal with peer pressure from upper classmen. And new classes, such as pre-engineering, were offered to challenge them.

Southeastern enrolled 689 students in ninth grade last fall and hopes 400 will graduate in 2009. This month, the class of ’06 was down to 250 students and that was one of the largest graduating classes in years. “Seven years ago, only 60 of about 500 students graduated,” reports the Free Press.

About Joanne


  1. And when principal Brenda Gatlin moves on, what then? There’s no reason to think that her substitute will be as good or even any good at all. Then the school quickly falls back into the same catagory as all the schools that don’t merit a mention.

  2. I’ve mentioned before that 20 years ago I wrote a well-researched article arguing that public schools are biased toward girls and “girl behaviors,” and against boys and boy behaviors. I had everything checked and counter-checked; it was all nailed down.

    My editor couldn’t get in published in NEW WOMAN, where I was a Contributing Editor.

    She sent it to a friend at Working Mother Magazine, who called me and said, “I’m not even going to show this to anyone else here. If anyone knew you wrote this, you’d never write anything for us.”

    This was 20 years ago.

    Last night our middle school observed 8th grade graduation.

    I have a copy of the program sitting on my desk. Approximately 53 awards were given out to 8th grade children. Perhaps 10 of those went to boys, and of those 10 boys, 3 were given awards for P.E. and for “most improved” student.

    It was The Girl Show.

    White families have some ability to get their sons through these scenes. It’s not infinite; I see bright-and-shiny 17 year old girls sitting next to their glum and resentful brothers more often than I’d like.

    Add low income, race prejudice, and in the case of black boys a missing father and you’re in trouble.