On-time Grade Advancement

On-time promotion or grade advancement is essentially an indicator of whether a student is on-track to graduate from high school.  Therefore, this indicator is most appropriate for tutoring programs designed to prevent high school dropout or increase time to graduation.  Furthermore, this indicator may be used by programs that seek through their core activities to improve academic performance in one or more subject areas.

Researchers have identified that students who struggle in the classroom and fall behind academically are more likely to drop out.  Being retained a grade is a good predictor of whether a student will graduate; especially among ninth graders (success or failure in the ninth grade has shown to have a significant impact on a student’s chances of graduating.) Programs targeting high school youth should identify individual students in their programs as either on- track or off-track by calculating the number of students who fail one or more core courses OR who do not accumulate the number of school credits required for promotion to 10th grade.  Since the total number of credits required for promotion varies among schools and districts, each program should identify the appropriate credit-accumulation benchmark as it relates to their program. Students identified as off- track at the end of their first year of high school should be considered at risk for dropping out of high school and should be targeted for intervention.

In general, programs should report the number and percent of program participants who advance or are promoted to the next grade level at the end of each academic year. For internal tracking purposes, programs may wish to breakout separately youth by individual grade level – that is, look at the number of 4th graders who advance, separate from 5th or 6th graders, etc.

By Urban Institute


Sources Cited

Allensworth, E. & Easton, J.Q. (2005). The On-Track Indicator as a Predictor of High School Graduation. Chicago: Consortium on Chicago School Research.

Neild, R.C. & Balfanz, R. (2001). An Extreme Degree of Difficulty: The Demographics of the Ninth Grade in Non-selective High Schools in Philadelphia. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association.

Roderick, M. (1993). The Path to Dropping Out: Evidence for Intervention. Westport, CT: Auburn House (p. 153).