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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

9th-grade GPA predicts college success (or failure)

Grades, attendance, test scores and graduation rates are up in Chicago Public Schools.

Helping ninth graders raise their grades is paying off for Chicago Public Schools, according to a new report by the Consortium on Chicago School Research.

Ninth-grade GPAs predict high school graduation and college success, reports Maureen Kelleher in Education Post.  “In 2006, 30 percent of ninth-graders in Chicago’s traditional public high schools had GPAs at 3.0 or higher. By 2013, that share had reached 50 percent.”

The district’s On-Track Indicator analyzes whether ninth graders “are coming to school regularly, staying out of trouble and passing their classes, particularly in core academic subjects,” writes Kelleher.

In 2008, the University of Chicago’s Network for College Success began offering schools training and support to improve their On-Track Indicator results. To be on track by the end of ninth grade, a student must have earned at least five credits and failed no more than one semester of one academic subject. In 2009, CPS began issuing school-by-school reports looking at student-level on-track data, so schools could develop targeted interventions for their own freshmen. This effort has paid off in skyrocketing graduation rates, driven by rising graduation rates for Black and Latino males. In June 2017, Chicago’s five-year graduation rate hit an all-time high of 77.5 percent, up by 4 percentage points from the previous year. Last year’s freshman on-track rate hit an all-time high of 88.7 percent. This suggests strong gains in graduation rates are likely to continue.

Test scores and attendance also are up, researchers noted. “We feel confident that at least part of the improvement in GPA can be attributed to improved achievement and academic success, and not solely to grade inflation.”

Very few ninth graders with an F average went on to graduate in four or five years, but 18 percent of F students went to college, compared to 70 percent of A students.

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