Education Post: Ninth-Grade GPAs Predict Kids' Futures and Chicago is Raising Them

An EdPost story written by Maureen Kelleher highlights a new report issued by the University of Chicago Consortium on School Research, which sheds light on the importance of ninth-grade GPAs in predicting students' future academic and life outcomes.

According to the report, a student's ninth-grade GPA can predict their grades two years later, when they count for college admissions. It also predicts graduation rates and college persistence, making it a critical factor in a student's success. The report highlights that students with GPAs of 3.0 or higher have significantly higher chances of making it through freshman year of college, putting them on track toward a bachelor's degree.
Over the last decade, Chicago Public Schools has invested heavily in creating and using the Freshman On-Track indicator, which requires students to have earned at least five credits and failed no more than one semester of one academic subject by the end of ninth grade. This effort has paid off in skyrocketing graduation rates, driven by rising graduation rates for Black and Latino males. In June 2017, Chicago's five-year graduation rate hit an all-time high of 77.5 percent, up by 4 percentage points from the previous year.
The report also highlights that ninth-grade GPA improvements are not solely due to grade inflation, as parallel improvements in attendance and test scores suggest that students with higher GPAs have actually learned new material in ninth grade that boosted their scores on the PLAN test in the fall of 10th grade. On the flip side, students with low GPAs scored lower on the test than expected based on their earlier test scores and other characteristics.
To build on this success, the report suggests two important next steps for Chicago's public high schools: reducing GPA gaps by gender and race and creating deliberate strategies to reduce these gaps to ultimately pay off in higher college completion rates across all demographics. Additionally, the report emphasizes the need to make the connection between ninth-grade GPA and college success more evident to ninth-graders themselves.
With concerted efforts from district leaders, thought partners, high school staff, and students, we can continue moving GPAs in the right direction, creating a better future for our children. Click here to read the full story.