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Getting On Track to Graduation: Ninth Graders’ Credit Accumulation in the School District of Philadelphia, 2015-2017

PERC research is produced through collaboration between researchers from Research for Action and the School District of Philadelphia’s Office of Research and Evaluation. For more information, please visit

Ninth grade is a critical juncture for students. Students who make a good transition to high school are likely to graduate within four years. Those who do not—who fail to earn as many credits as they should in ninth grade—face an elevated risk of dropping out of high school.

In 2018, the School District of Philadelphia (SDP) established a new Ninth Grade On-Track Definition. To be considered on track to graduation, a student completing the first year of high school must have earned at least one credit in each core subject (English, mathematics, science, and social studies), plus one additional credit from any subject. Annually, the District expects to report the percentage of students on track to graduation at the end of ninth grade.