Every year in Oregon, some 9,000 students do not complete high school. They will earn an average of $10,000 less per year than their peers with a diploma, and face steep unemployment rates (12.4 percent for ages 16-24; 20 percent for ages 16-19). Sadly, our state remains third to last in ensuring our students walk in a cap and gown.
However, groundbreaking research over the last dozen years offers the chance for us to turn these harsh realities around. We now know a student who is “on-track” to graduate by the end of their freshman year (defined as having accrued six credits and not having received more than one semester F in a core subject like English, math or science) is four times more likely to graduate than their off-track peers.
By implementing tracking systems to identify vulnerable students, and by using targeted student supports, additional instruction time, tutoring and counseling during the 9th grade, pilot schools for the 9th Grade On Track program in Chicago boosted graduation rates by 8 to 20 percentage points within four years.