Ninth-Grade Remediation Programs: A Synthesis of Evidence-Based Research
The first year of high school is a critical period in the educational development of adolescents. When youth enter an unfamiliar educational setting and face increased expectations for their academic performance, many experience initial declines in their grades and attendance. The transition to ninth grade can be particularly daunting for students who lack the academic preparation for high school success. Over time, without outside intervention, these youth are likely to lag behind their peers and are at greater risk of dropping out of school.
Ninth-grade remediation programs are intended to help underprepared students acquire the academic knowledge and skills they need to function in an increasingly standards-based environment. Although educators have experimented with many promising initiatives, only a handful possess the scientific rigor called for by the No Child Left Behind Act. To support efforts to identify educational programs and practices that have been proven effective, the Office of Vocational and Adult Education (OVAE) commissioned a review of studies that measured the effect of ninth-grade remediation programs on student achievement. Using the What Works Clearinghouse’s (WWC) Study Design and Implementation Assessment Device (DIAD) as a filter, this report provides a catalog and assessment of the quantitative research studies published in the past 10 years. The analysis also takes into consideration the Cumulative Research Evidence Assessment Device (CREAD) used to summarize the validity characteristics of the evidence base.
This research review answers the following questions:
1. Do remediation programs increase academic achievement, as measured by test scores and grades, or have any effect on ninth-graders’ attendance and dropout rates?
2. What program characteristics are associated with positive performance outcomes?
3. What are the strengths and weaknesses of the existing evidence base, and to what extent do studies that meet DIAD criteria address the educational issues that characterize the field?