Ninth graders have the lowest grade point average, the most missed classes, the majority of failing grades, and more misbehavior referrals than any other high school grade level. The 9th grade also has the highest enrollment rate in high schools, mainly due to the fact that approximately 22% of students repeat 9th-grade classes. This number can be even higher in large urban high schools.(McCallumore, Kyle Megan; Sparapani, Ervin F., October 2010, Educational Digest)
Exposure to work at a young age is thought to contribute to the focus and direction young people need to make decisions about their future life pathways. Working at an early age generates a set of additional and longer lasting benefits that are manifest in improved lifetime employment and earnings outcomes as well as improved educational attainment outcomes. (Signaling Success: Boosting Teen Employment Prospects, Commonwealth Corporation 2013)
Ninth grade as a critical year. More students fail ninth grade than any other grade in high school. While nationally, nearly one third of all high school students drop out before completing high school, 75% of students who fail one course in ninth grade will drop out of school before graduating.
There is an urgent need to prepare young people before high school and equipping students with a variety of opportunities to motivate them to succeed such as a part-time job, career goals and pathways, and caring adults who can advise and support them outside of school.
See additional data on the impact of ninth grade on high school dropout rates.
Read a recent article about the importance of 9th grade: Ninth grade: The Most Important Year in High School, The Atlantic, Nov 1 2013