Ninth-Grade High School GPAs Matter News2america

Freshman year of high school is a big deal for students, socially and academically.

Parents should pay attention to this big transition in their student’s life, says Janice K. Jackson, chief education officer of Chicago Public Schools.

Many parents believe their teens need more freedom in high school, says Jackson, a former high school teacher and principal. But she says parents should aim to give their teen increased independence while still providing social and academic support to help students succeed.

How well students perform academically in ninth grade can predict their future success, according to a 2017 study from the University of Chicago Consortium on School Research. The group looked at the freshman-year grades of about 187,000 Chicago public school students from 2006 to 2013.

Parents should consider the following reasons for why a successful freshman year is crucial.

1. Ninth-grade GPA can predict graduation. The Chicago report authors found that freshmen with A’s, B’s and C’s were much more likely to graduate high school than their peers with lower GPAs, says Lauren Sartain, co-author of the study and a senior research analyst at the Consortium.

More than a decade ago, Chicago officials started paying more attention to success during freshman year. After doing so, Jackson says they saw more students complete ninth grade, and that led to higher graduation rates. Among their efforts, school officials use early warning indicator data, such as attendance rates, to determine which freshmen need extra help before school even starts.

Twitter users sounded off below on how ninth-grade success can predict the future.

2. Freshmen GPAs often mirror junior-year grades. The relationship between ninth- and 11th-grade GPAs is super strong, says Sartain. That really illustrates the importance of freshman year, she says, because junior-year grades are often an important factor for college admission.

But freshmen who struggle can still turn around their grades, says Sartain. For example, about half the students in the study with a D-level GPA in ninth grade improved to a C-level GPA by 11th grade, she says.

Twitter users agree that ninth-grade success can set the tone for high school.

3. Academically strong freshmen are more likely to attend college. “It’s all about getting that B or better,” says Sartain, in terms of the grade freshmen will need to be more likely to start and remain in college.

Ninth-grade marks were also a better predictor than test scores of whether students would be successful in high school and college, Sartain says.

“That’s not to say that test scores aren’t important, because colleges obviously look at test scores and grades, among other indicators, when making admissions decisions,” she says.

Her colleagues at the Consortium have found through other work that high test scores give students access to more selective colleges, she says. “But grades do a much better job of predicting how successful you are in college once you get there.”

Freshmen who do well academically have the necessary tools to succeed in high school and beyond, Twitter users told U.S. News.

Putting in the work in ninth grade will really pay off for students, Sartain says, because finishing high school and college is strongly related to career success.

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