Raising high school graduation and college-going rates remains a high priority in Chicago and among school districts and states around the country. To address high rates of high school dropout and low rates of college-readiness, a crucial starting point is ensuring that students enter high school with the cognitive and behavioral skills that make high school graduation and college-ready standards attainable by the end of high school. The research strand on the middle grades includes defining and measuring high school readiness and identifying strategies to increase high school readiness and a successful transition through the first year of high school.
On-track. CCSR has produced a number of reports showing the ways in which ninth grade on-track indicators can be used to target intervention and strategies around high school graduation. We have extended this work to examine the ninth grade performance of students with disabilities and English language learners. CCSR researchers are now examining whether improvements in on-track rates are sustained over time, resulting in improvements in later outcomes (graduation rates).
Focus on freshmen. CCSR researchers followed students as they moved from eighth grade, through ninth grade and into tenth grade to understand what factors led students to make a successful transition to high school. A series of research briefs is planned for release in early fall 2012.
Algebra summer credit recovery: Comparison of online to face-to-face. In a joint project with AIR, CCSR isstudying the effectiveness of online summer credit recovery courses for getting students back on-track to graduate. We are comparing students’ experiences and outcomes in online and face-to-face sections, and examining the long-term effects of enrolling students in summer algebra credit recovery. The project has provided funding for extra sessions of second semester algebra in high schools participating in the study in summers 2011 and 2012. Data are currently being collected for the second year of the project.
Middle grade predictors of high school readiness. CCSR is studying the ways in which students’ performance in the middle grades can be used to predict their success in high school, whether they pass ninth grade English/math, earn As/Bs in ninth grade, and attain PLAN college benchmark scores. Findings were presented to the CCSR Steering Committee and a report is in progress.
Effects of high school choice. CCSR is about to begin a study examining the degree to which students’ outcomes are affected by the high school that they attend, given their characteristics upon leaving middle school. We are examining a wide array of outcomes, including graduation, test scores, college-going, feelings of safety, discipline issues, sense of belonging, and, for non-charter schools, attendance and grade point averages. This study should inform the process of high school choice, showing which characteristics of schools are most critical for students with different levels of achievement and background characteristics, considering a variety of outcomes that are important to families.