We've seen a number of cities starting to use on-track indicators to try to make sure that students make a successful transition into high school, without failing any core academic courses. This is great, but it takes more than monitoring and reports to make a difference. Districts and schools have to start responding differently.
Portland Public Schools developed a full district-wide strategy focused on Ninth Grade Counts. Bridgespan did an excellent case study based on the excellent and honest leadership from the folks at PPS.
This is definitely worth reading and using for conversation with constituencies within districts. Chicago has also done a full districtwide strategy but it hasn't been documented for public consumption. We need a few different examples to help districts think out their options.
I hope this all finds you well. I thought that you might be interested in the attached case study that we recently prepared on an initiative that Bridgespan helped the Portland (OR) Public Schools carry out. The initiative focused on the 9th grade transition as a strategic intervention point for reducing dropout rates. The case study shows how Portland moved from data and decisions to implementation and discernable interim results in a year's time. I thought there might be elements of this effort that would be relevant and useful for you.
We would of course welcome any feedback, comments, or questions about this study. I would like to ask one favor -- could you please consider if there is anyone in your network who might be interested in this white paper and forward it on to them? While this initiative is still being developed in Portland, and it will take 1-2 more years to come to full fruition, we believe there are powerful lessons and early results that warrant sharing it broadly to inform the field.
You can find the case study at Bridgespan's webiste