Brief: Navigating the Middle Grades and Preparing Students for High School Graduation (2011)

Michael Kieffer, William Marinell, and Nickisha Stephenson

This brief presents preliminary findings from an exploratory study of New York City students’ transitions into, through, and out of the middle grades. Our analysis reveals that students’ attendance and achievement in their early schooling (fourth grade) predict whether students are likely to graduate from high school many years later. Further, we find that many students begin the middle grades on-track to graduate high school but fall off this trajectory before the end of eighth grade. These findings suggest that teachers and administrators should pay close attention to students whose attendance and math achievement fall during the middle grades, as these students are particularly at risk for not graduating from high school on time.