Ninth-graders get their own school

Ninth-graders are getting their own schools to ease the transition to high school.

“People just really value having our ninth-graders have a chance to develop intellectually, emotionally and socially outside of the context of a large comprehensive high school setting,” said Kenneth Graham, superintendent of Rush-Henrietta Central School District near Rochester, N.Y. “They don’t have upperclassmen in the halls picking on them and teasing them.”

So far, this is just a trendlet: There were 127 ninth-grade-only public schools in 1999-2000; that jumped to 185 by 2005-06 school year, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

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  1. “People just really value having our ninth-graders have a chance to develop intellectually, emotionally and socially…”

    Not to mention culturally, multiculturally, ethnically, racially, diversely….

    “They don’t have upperclassmen in the halls picking on them and teasing them”

    Yeah, but what about those poor oppressed 10th-graders, picked upon and oppressed by them crool upperer-classmen? And by induction, what about those poor 11th-graders – and so on and so forth?

    Amazing the ideas these people come up with!

  2. So having TWO transition years, 8 to 9 and 9 to 10 is better? I’ve taught a lot of students who didn’t deal well with institutional change.

  3. Hmm. Weird.

    Our local school district is so small that the Junior High and the High School are in the same building.

    7th-12th grade.

    As far as I know, bullying isn’t a *huge* issue.

  4. Bill Leonard says:

    What ever happened to the “junior high school” concept I grew up with in the Des Moines school system? Kids attended a K-6. junior high was 7th, 8th and 9th; high school was 10th, 11th and 12th.

    It seemed to work pretty well; I was in 7th grade when my family moved to California in 1955. In San Jose at the time, the schools were K-8 with a homeroom where the teacher taught everything but PE. Academically I was about a year ahead of my 7th-grade classmates in California.


  5. The idea of giving 9th graders their own school is pointless. The transition into high school is not that bad or that much different than just going to a higher grade. Besides the children will have to go to high school sooner or later so why does it matter when?

  6. Mike, a diag in Texas says:

    I have seen this in several districts in Houston. Personally, I believe they do it to avoid overcrowding.

    This way, a district can avoid building an entire high school for several years.

    I believe that it’s budget driven.

  7. What, Mike, you believe that the stated motives and real motives of school administrators are not identical??

  8. Our 9th graders are on our campus as usual, but they have their own “school within a school.” All 9th grade classes are situated at the south end of the campus, mainly in bungalows with their own VP, attendance, and faculty lounge. Ninth grade teachers teach ONLY 9th grade and they keep very close watch on these children so as not to lose any. The campus is much calmer so far this year.

  9. My older children attend a public school in a district where grades 6 and 7 are “middle school” and 8 and 9 are “junior high.” I think more because the administrators are trying to figure out where to fit the children because the high school is so crowded than anything else.

    My only beef with that is that sometimes the ninth graders are second-class citizens as far as getting the status of being in “high school.” In the program my oldest son was part of and completed, the coordinator told me they don’t send out letters of completion to children in Junior High, just the high schoolers.


    Well, my son’s a high schooler if he’s going into ninth grade, right? Can we please have that paper?

    And she was nice about it, but since the ninth graders aren’t in the same building stuff like that seems to creep in… out of sight, out of mind.

    On the plus side, yay for being away from the “high school” for another year!

  10. In most cases, separate 9th grade centers are driven by over-crowding issues. During their first semester, freshmen can be pure hell on wheels, so I can see where it would be a discipline advantage to have them shunted off — I’ve seen studies that show improvements in retention and graduation rates, too. Personally, I wouldn’t touch a 9th only building no way no how. I teach some pretty challenging groups, but freshmen girls put me at my absolute limit.