Ninth grade is hard. Being 14 or 15 years old and experiencing multiple emotional and hormonal changes is challenging. Now after two years of remote instruction many students entering high school as freshmen must navigate a new, larger school, while finding the schoolwork more difficult, with core classes and standardized tests. Even previous straight-A students see their grades slip for the first time.
It’s no surprise that ninth graders have the lowest grade point average, the most missed classes, more failing grades and more behavioral problems than any other high-school grade level. About 22 percent of students repeat ninth grade (more than any other grade) and the results can be disastrous – students face peer judgment and low self-esteem and have a 75 percent probability of dropping out of high school.
So, what is being done to save our ninth graders?
We are rescuing many of those teens who either repeated ninth grade or simply did not promote to 10th grade. In some of our schools, this represents as much as 91 percent of the student population. For years educators have seen reports about how ninth grade is such a pivotal year for high school students, yet not enough is being done to provide extra help for this fragile group. They come to us as a last resort to catch up. Because of the pandemic-related learning loss, we are seeing a huge number of ninth graders who are more than a year behind in credits or have already dropped out.
Thanks to our model of one-on-one, personalized instruction, a low student-to-teacher ratio, and extra tutoring and counseling, 90 percent of FLEX students are successful by either graduating or catching up on credits and returning to their traditional school for graduation.
April is a critical time for ninth graders as the school year winds down. Teachers and parents need to identify students who are struggling and get them the extra help they need. Options include tutoring, online courses or summer school to catch up.
Read about some FLEX High students who overcame obstacles to graduate, https://flexhighohio.org/student-stories/.