This report examines how well the freshman on-track indicator developed by the Consortium on Chicago School Research predicts on-time graduation in two urban districts in the Midwest Region. This indicator classifies students at the end of the first year of high school as on-track or off-track to graduate based on grade 9 course credits earned and failures.
REL Midwest examined on-track and off-track rates and for recent freshman cohorts as well as 4-year graduation rates for on-track and off-track students.
Key findings include:
For both districts, students who were on track at the end of grade 9 graduated on time at a higher rate than did students who were off track. This was the case both overall and for student subgroups based on gender, race/ethnicity, special education status, free or reduced-price lunch status, age, and proficiency level on grade 8 state math and reading assessments.
For the 2005/06 cohort, the on-time graduation rate in District A was 80.7 percent for on-track students and 30.2 percent for off-track students; in District B, it was 91 percent for on-track students and 45 percent for off-track students.
On-track status was a significant predictor of on-time graduation, even after controlling for student background characteristics and grade 8 achievement test scores. The effect size for on-track status was larger than the effect sizes for any student background characteristic and for achievement test scores.