Keeping Students “On Track” to Graduation

Definition of SDP’s 9th Grade On-Track Metric

A first-time SDP 9th grader is considered on track if he or she earns at least one credit in each of four core areas (English, math, science and social studies), plus one additional credit from any source.

About the Project

The Office of Research and Evaluation is working in partnership with the Philadelphia Education Research Consortium (PERC) to produce a series of focused analyses on the factors that keep SDP high school students “on track” to graduation. These projects begin with important factors that have been repeatedly identified by high quality research (such as attendance, and grades in core areas). However, these projects aim to dig much more deeply into those factors, and into how they impact achievement in the specific and unique environment of SDP.

Four projects are underway during the 2017-18 school year with a primary focus on 9th grade.  Reports will be posted as they are available.

  • Defining SDP 9th Grade On Track: In order to conduct research about factors that influence high school success, it is first necessary to define what qualifies as success. Chicago’s To and Through Project has demonstrated the power of a simple, accessible metric that strongly predicts on-time graduation. This report defines the SDP on track metric and validates the metric using data from recent graduating cohorts.
  • Describing On-Track Students: Using the metric defined in the first report, this report from our partners at PERC describes subgroups from recent cohorts that were more or less likely to finish 9th grade on track.
  • Supporting 9th Grade Students From the Start:  Some students start out high school well prepared, demonstrate success, then begin to struggle. Other students, however, struggle immediately when they enter high school. This report identifies ways for high schools to identify students that are most likely to start poorly – and to identify them before their first day of 9th grade.
  • 9th Grade Attendance: Attendance is always important, but research has consistently shown that attendance during the 9th grade year is especially impactful. This analysis goes beyond this established finding, and seeks to identify specific patterns of attendance that may deepen our understanding of how and when absences may be most damaging, or most avoidable. Once identified these patterns could provide school personnel with tools to tailor interventions to their specific students.

Additional Resources for Interpreting On-Track Status in QlikBAM

This document describes the credit totals used in the District’s internal (QlikBAM) dashboards. These credit totals are used to determine whether students are on track in QlikBAM and for the 9th Grade On Track metrics in the District’s School Profiles.

For More Information

Contact Theodore Wills, Ph.D.:

Related Reports