Is there a relationship between ninth grade transitional programs and at-risk student achievement?

Susan Marie Stoddard

Abstract

Transition into the ninth grade has long been a critical juncture for students as they make the move to a larger environment with less personal support and a more rigorous academic challenge. In an effort to help make the move from middle-to-high-school transition as smooth as possible, school districts are using Ninth Grade Academies, or innovative transitional strategies designed to address the key factors contributing to students dropping out: poor academic achievement, disengagement, and poor attendance. The purpose of the study was to determine if a statistically significant relationship existed between the type of ninth grade transitional program and at-risk student achievement. This study also explored the impact of student attendance and discipline factors on student achievement. The measures of student achievement analyzed included the students' weighted grade point average (GPA), End of Course Test (EOCT) scores, and promotion to tenth grade. Results showed statistically significant findings related to attendance, student achievement, and discipline and the type of transitional program. Conducting a longitudinal study would show the improvement for student achievement, attendance, and discipline in the Ninth Grade Academy schools prior to the implementation of the separate buildings. The schools with embedded or no transitional program continued to perform higher than the Ninth Grade Academy in most areas; however, the gap is narrowing.