‘Teetering on the ninth-grade cliff’

Washington D.C.’s middle schools are the real “dropout factories,” said HyeSook Chung of D.C. Action for Children, a non-profit advocacy group at a city council hearing. More than half of D.C. students who quit school leave in ninth grade. “If we want to improve graduation rates, we need to catch students before they are teetering on the ninth-grade cliff,” said Chung.

Chung, citing research by Johns Hopkins University, said a series of predictive markers, visible as early as sixth grade, can identify dropout candidates: a final grade of “F” in math or English, attendance below 80 percent for the year or a final “unsatisfactory” behavior mark in at least one class.

Sixth graders with one of the four markers had at least a 75 percent chance of dropping out,” Chung said. More than one drove the likelihood even higher.

She proposed an “early warning system” for students at high risk of dropping out.  I’d guess kindergarten teachers could predict who’s likely to succeed or fail.  Once warned, what next?

The District’s graduation rate is 43 percent.



About Joanne