Why We Work with 8th Graders

Take a closer look at why and when students drop out of high school. Breakthrough Collaborative’s 2011 brief assembles compelling data on the country’s dropout crisis.  Read the full brief , “Challenges of the Ninth Grade Transition.

Among some of the most startling data:
• Ninth grade retention rates and failure rates are higher than any other grade. In fact, a ninth grade student is three to five times more likely to fail a class than students in any other grade.

• Although students who are under‐prepared academically are most likely to fail one or more courses and ultimately drop out, even students who are well prepared
academically and previously high‐achieving can face considerable hurdles when they enter high school.

High school requires students to take charge of their own learning without the continuity of watchful middle school teachers. In Boston, students are no longer transported aboard yellow school buses, instead relying on public transportation. First period classes have an especially high rate of failure because students do not arrive at school on time.

Apprentice Learning prepares students before they begin high school, with experiences that reinforce the importance of punctuality and attendance. As part of our skill set, students travel independently (with lots of support) to worksites. Apprenticing in a professional environment requires that overcome challenges of interacting in an unfamiliar environment, communicating with strangers and asking questions. Building these competencies better prepares students for the unexpected obstacles of 9th grade.

Our students are eager to begin a life with more independence. Our job is to prepare them sufficiently so they can progress with confidence.

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