How Focusing on High School Freshmen Changed a System

“The Second Window” Documentary Premiere

By The BELE Network

The early childhood years have long been recognized as a time of rapid brain development and the critical window for establishing positive life trajectories. However, growing evidence from neuroscience, developmental psychology, and the education field points to a second window — the widely disdained and infamously “awkward” adolescent years.

The University of Chicago Network for College Success, Consortium on School Research, and To&Through Project invite you to view The Second Window: How a Focus on Freshmen Transformed a System, a documentary that spotlights the research that inspired Chicago Public Schools’ bet on students’ ninth grade year, which was once considered a “throwaway year.”

Focusing on freshmen catalyzed sustained, system-wide improvement and helped Chicago go from “worst district in the nation” to a district leading the country in its work to keep freshmen on-track toward high school graduation and postsecondary success. Watch the film and access accompanying resources.

In celebration of the documentary premiere, the University of Chicago Network for College Success, Consortium on School Research, and To&Through Project are hosting two webinars this week about the research and how educators can apply it to their own schools. Details about the webinar are below. For more information and to RSVP, visit this link.

Applying Lessons from Freshman Success to Sophomore Year

Wednesday, August 19 from 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. (CDT)

You are invited to join us for a webinar featuring the release of a new report from the UChicago Consortium on School Research and the To&Through Project on Wednesday, August 19 at 12 p.m. (CDT). The report, titled “The Forgotten Year: Applying Lessons from Freshman Success to the Sophomore Year,” sheds light on a research-based set of indicators for sophomore year, building on the lessons of Chicago Public Schools’ work around Freshman OnTrack.

During the webinar, the authors of this new report will present their research on more nuanced definitions of freshman and sophomore success that educators can use to better monitor and support students during sophomore year. The presentation will be followed by a Q&A session.

Freshman Success Around the Country

Thursday, August 20 from 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. (CDT)

The Freshman OnTrack movement has spread across the nation: eleven states have adopted a freshman on-track measure in their high school accountability system, and practitioners from around the country participate in the annual Network for College Success National Freshman Success Institute. How have practitioners in these widely varying school contexts adapted freshman success strategies to meet their students’ needs?

Join us for a webinar exploring variations of Freshman OnTrack support strategies around the country on Thursday, August 20 at 12 p.m. (CDT). This webinar will feature educational leaders from cities that have developed their own ninth grade on-track indicators and adapted freshman support strategies in context-specific ways. The featured leaders from each of these districts will present their work on supporting students during the transition to high school and participate in a panel discussion about the student supports specific to their contexts.

The BELE Network is dedicated to reimagining our inequitable school system that has failed too many for too long, and is committed to transforming our classrooms into learning environments that nurture the intellectual, emotional and cultural growth of all students — especially students of color.

Learn more about BELE on our website, and access our resource library to make your learning environments more equitable.

We are committed to creating learning environments that equitably support every student — especially students of color and low-income students.

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