9th Grade Academy

In School Year 2013-2014, DC Public Schools (DCPS) established targeted ninth grade academy programs in high schools across the District to help first-year ninth grade students successfully transition to and succeed in high school. These programs, focused on supporting the academic, social and emotional needs of first-year ninth graders, is based on best practices, research and successful programs in other urban school districts.

The program model is designed around four strategies: data-driven decision making, teaming of instructional staff, course programming to meet student needs, and student engagement.

Data-driven decision-making: Three times per year, school-based staff will review student performance data relating to attendance, behavior and course performance in core areas including English, Math, Social Studies, and Science. High school administrators will use this data to place students on one of two teams. The first team will include students who are on pace to successfully pass ninth grade courses and meet behavioral expectations. The second team will include students who show signs that they might not successfully pass ninth grade courses, based on failing one or more courses in eighth grade, and behavioral expectations. Each team’s course schedule and programming will be designed to meet the needs of the cohort of students.

Teaming: The ninth Grade Academy staff will include a social worker, guidance counselor, data lead, and a core group of four teachers: English, Mathematics, Social Students, and Science. These teams will be supervised by an academy coordinator or designated administrator. This staff will work exclusively with the group of students assigned to their team. The master schedule will provide daily common planning time for the core staff. There will also be a system-wide professional development series for Ninth Grade Academy staff.

Course Programming and Student Engagement: The ninth grade academies will offer differentiated courses to meet student needs. Students on pace to graduate in four years will enroll in a yearlong English I and Algebra I course. These students will also enroll in at least one honors course and participate in an extracurricular activity. Students who need more intensive remediation will enroll in an advisory course to focus on study skills and organization. Students who need additional help will also take Algebra I and English support courses, such as Extended Literacy or Algebra Extension. Students will be required to attend the extended day program, as well as the Saturday Academy throughout the year to focus on assignment recovery, as well as participate in an extracurricular activity.

The curriculum in the ninth grade academies will incorporate key areas of character development and study skills. Students will participate in regular field trips to see workplaces and the skills needed for success. Students will also be required to participate in college visits and extra-curricular activities. Schools will hold regular family conferences to monitor progress and quarterly recognition assemblies to acknowledge students who significantly improve or who have made other notable accomplishments.