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Ninth-grade success programs get continued state funding

Money will support successful initiatives in 53 schools across the state

Freshmen at Lynden High School develop plans to catch up on missed work on Feb. 21. The class is part of Lynden's ninth-grade success strategy. (Hailey Hoffman/Cascadia Daily News)
By Charlotte Alden General Assignment/Enterprise Reporter

The state legislature has allocated $3 million to continue the ninth-grade success initiative in its supplemental budget.

The initiative provides grants to schools across the state to boost freshmen passing rates. In Whatcom County, Lynden High School has seen the biggest leap due to the program: in the 2021-22 school year, only 66.3% of ninth graders were passing all of their courses. By the 2022-23 school year, 87.4% of freshmen passed all classes.

[Read more: Lynden High School sees double-digit jump in freshmen passing classes ]

Funds from the program are used by schools to create ninth-grade or freshmen “success teams” — a group of teachers, administrators and other staff that work together to support ninth graders who are failing classes.

The $3 million will support initiatives in 53 schools across the state for three years, Doug Judge, a ninth-grade coach with the Center for High School Success told CDN in February.

“We know that students who pass all of their ninth-grade classes are much more likely to graduate on time, which contributes to their lifelong success,” said State Superintendent Chris Reykdal in a Stand for Children press release.

In Whatcom County, success teams take various approaches: Lynden High School and Mount Baker Senior High have freshman seminars for students who need more support. Mount Baker and Meridian High School have instituted credit repair or credit retrieval initiatives, which allow students who just barely failed first-term classes opportunities to make up grades in their second term.

Statewide, schools with a ninth-grade success initiative have an on-track rate that is seven points higher than similar schools who do not have the program, according to Stand for Children.

Charlotte Alden is CDN’s general assignment/enterprise reporter; reach her at; 360-922-3090 ext. 123.

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