Why Grades Drop When Students Enter High School and What Adults Can Do About It

Free to Fail or On-Track to College

Research Brief April 2014
By Todd Rosenkranz, Marisa de la Torre, W. David Stevens, and Elaine M. Allensworth

Across most high schools, students’ attendance and academic effort suffer in the transition to high school, leading to a decline in grades. This puts students at a disadvantage for high school graduation and for college and career readiness. Schools and teachers have a big role to play in preventing these declines. High school teachers often assume freshmen are ready to take on the responsibility for managing their own academic behavior; students interpret their new freedom to mean that attending classes and working hard are choices rather than responsibilities. Systems that monitor student attendance and engagement and strategies that respond to student withdrawal can help reverse the decline in grades in the transition to high school.

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