A Study of Relationships Between Ninth Grade Centers and Student Achievement
Ned, Charles 1973-
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In an era where ninth grade is the most populated grade level, and studies show that more students drop out in ninth grade than any other grade level, there was a need to review research to determine if ninth grade centers have a significant impact on student achievement. Statistics show, and researchers agree, that a student’s attendance and academic success in his or her ninth grade year can determine, and even predict, whether the student remains on track to graduate high school in four years. The purpose of this quantitative study was to determine if relationships exist between participation in ninth grade centers and student achievement, as measured by retention rates, standardized test scores, attendance rates, and dropout rates. The data used in this study came from 132 traditional high schools and 10 stand-alone ninth grade centers within the Greater Houston area or Region 4, which encompass 53 school districts covering 7 counties. The Region 4 students come from a number of diverse backgrounds. The overall racial composition is 43% Hispanic, 29% Caucasian, 22% African American, 6% Asian, and 0.2% Native American, although these ratios vary widely between school districts. About 75% of students from Region 4 come from economically disadvantaged families and 19% have limited English proficiency. Pearson’s chi-squared test of homogeneity of proportions was used to identify any differences between the variables under analysis. The results of the data analysis revealed there was a significant difference between the ninth grade center group, those separated from other grade levels and housed at a stand-alone campus, and the Region 4 group of ninth graders, those housed in a traditional 9th-12th grade setting, in their dropout rates and student performance on standardized tests. The Region 4 group of ninth graders had significantly higher attendance rates when compared to that of the ninth grade center group. The data results also revealed that there were no significant differences between these groups when analyzing retention rates. The results of this study may provide more insight into strategies and interventions educators may use to improve ninth grade student performance and the organizational design that will benefit students the most.