In our 50 years of experience with the Career Academy Model, PAI has recognized the critical importance of a student’s 9th grade year, and as a result has developed expertise around supporting 9th grade students, teachers, and the 9th Grade Academy experience.
PAI’s primary work with Freshman Success is through its 9th Grade Success Network, a network of schools PAI supports through coaching and professional development with the ultimate goal of increasing school capacity to improve 9th Grade On-Track rates. Research from the School District of Philadelphia’s Office of Research and Evaluation has found that 9th graders who end the year “On-Track” for graduation (i.e. earning credits in all four core classes [Math, English, Science, Social Studies] plus one additional credit) have a 4-year graduation rate of 89%; whereas 9th graders who are Off-Track have only a 45% graduation rate. Being On-Track in 9th grade effectively doubles a students’ likelihood of graduating on-time and is thus an absolutely critical year as we seek to help more students not only graduate high school, but also access and flourish in college and career opportunities after high school.
PAI supports the 9th Grade Success Network in developing and implementing effective adult practices to support 9th grade students in their transition to high school, with a primary focus on supporting teams of teachers in using data to identify students in need and to plan, implement, and track evidence-based interventions to support them. Through a Network-wide Community of Practice that meets quarterly, PAI also helps the Network engage in shared learning across schools to strengthen practices and problem solve together. The goal is for the Network to show measured increases in their 9th Grade On-Track rates year after year, and be a model for other schools in the region, spurring further learning and capacity building and resulting in more 9th Graders On-Track and higher graduation rates.
The 9th Grade Success Network is currently comprised of eight schools from all corners of the city, serving a total of 108 adult practitioners (assistant principals, educators, counselors, etc.) and 1,474 9th graders annually. PAI is grateful to the University of Chicago Urban Education Institute’s To&Through Project for their programmatic support and thought partnership with the 9th Grade Success Network, the Neubauer Family Foundation for their generous financial support, and the School District of Philadelphia for prioritizing 9th Grade On-Track in Philadelphia and providing user-friendly and user-informed data tools to school leaders and educators; without these partners, this work would not be possible.
In addition to our work supporting the 9th Grade Success Network, PAI supports a Freshman Seminar curriculum which is available for schools and supported by teacher training, teacher check-ins, and support with career speakers. PAI can also assist with structuring 9th Grade Academies, special culture-building events, and creating a comprehensive 9th Grade Academy success plan which brings together these multiple components to provide a successful 9th grade year for students transitioning into high school.
For more information about PAI’s Freshman Success services, please contact
Ms. Nadia Schafer
Manager of Data Supports and Evaluation at:
215-546-6300 ext. 113