High School Graduation Initiative Strategies: Preparation in Middle School and Transitions to High School

High School Graduation Initiative (HSGI) grants have been awarded recently to a wide range of applicants, and summaries are now available on the Department of Education’s Web site.  Twenty-nine grantees in 18 states will receive a total of $46,610,682.  In a series of blog entries, we will be examining some of the common strategies proposed by HSGI awardees.  Though these posts examine trends in strategies used, the applications may include other components not captured here.

Student performance in middle school, including academic progress and attendance, has been shown to be predictive of whether a student will graduate or dropout in high school [1]. To increase the likelihood that students will stay in school through graduation, many awardees proposed strategies that begin before high school, targeting middle schools or summer transition programs to ensure students are entering high school on track.

Middle School Efforts

Several districts plan to use HSGI funds to implement strategies in middle schools.  San Antonio Independent School District (TX) will implement the Communities in School (CIS) program.  CIS will offer services to overage students currently enrolled in middle schools that include a new, intensive academic acceleration program to help these students get back on track.  St. Clair County Educational Cooperative Board (IL) will appoint a parent/school liaison who will identify at-risk middle school students who need targeted support.

9th Grade Summer Transition Programs

Many HSGI awardees plan to create or expand programs that target students who are entering 9th grade.  For example, many of the HSGI awardees will implement two- to four-week summer programs to help prepare incoming 9th graders for the transition from middle to high school, providing mentoring and counseling services, academic skill-building, and/or an opportunity to gain high school credits before the school year has begun.  The School District 1J Multnomah County  (OR) will use funds to extend its existing 9th grade transition program to 10th grade students who are not on track for graduation.  The Los Angeles Unified School District (CA) will create a complementary Parent Bridge program for parents of students entering ninth grade to provide families with information about the often challenging transition to high school.

We will be looking deeper at the HSGI applications and the strategies proposed in the near future.  


Note: This blog post was originally authored under the auspices of the National High School Center at the American Institutes for Research (AIR). The National High School Center’s blog, High School Matters, which ran until March 2013, provided an objective perspective on the latest research, issues, and events that affected high school improvement. The CCRS Center plans to continue relevant work originally developed under the National High School Center grant. National High School Center blog posts that pertain to CCRS Center issues are included on this website as a resource to our stakeholders.

[1] Balfanz, R. (2009). Putting middle grades students on the graduation path. National Middle School Association, 3-13.

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