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Challenges to Freshman Year Interventions in Philadelphia

Philadelphia made early investments in reforms designed to address the challenges of large neighborhood high schools, including supports for the critical ninth grade transition year. Well over a decade later, our research shows that freshman year interventions are frequently not implemented in ways that maximize their effectiveness. This policy brief focuses on the challenges to implementing five key interventions to support ninth graders — challenges which are most severe in the large neighborhood high schools that enroll a disproportionate share of students at risk of dropping out. The brief concludes with recommendations to the School District of Philadelphia on how it can build and sustain a strategic focus on freshman year interventions that commits to providing the resources, incentives, and professional development needed to support and sustain effective practices — particularly in neighborhood high schools.