Giving Compass' Take:

• Research indicates grades during a student's first year of high school are the best predictor of future academic success. In an effort to get them on the right foot, there's a program featuring specific lessons to help them achieve graduation. 

• How can communities help engage with local public schools to offer support for students who are under performing?

Here's an article on bringing transparency to high school graduation options. 

Keeping freshmen on track may be the key to moving the needle upon graduation rates, experts say. This fact seems especially relevant for black males. In CPS (Chicago Public Schools), the graduation rate of African American males rose from 43% in 2005 to 71% in 2013. The research also found that freshmen who pass all their classes have a 90% chance of graduating from high school, compared to 70% of those who failed a class during 9th grade.

Evidence suggests that a student’s 9th-grade GPA is the most important predictor of future school success. Good grades reflect positive behaviors and attitudes, attendance and the effort to turn in assignments. This research is based on the grades of 187,000 first-time freshmen in non-charter, non-alternative schools.

CPS' efforts to provide freshmen with extra support has also received attention from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which last year sought schools to participate in its Networks for School Improvement initiative that will help schools intervene with at-risk students at critical transition points, such as when they begin high school.

Read the full article about Chicago Public Schools by Shawna De La Rosa at Education Dive.