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Present from the Start: Ninth Grade Attendance Patterns 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

School learning starts with school attendance. Students need to be in school to receive instruction and learn from their teachers and peers. When schools have high rates of poor attendance, their academic achievement levels suffer.

Combine the importance of attendance with the increased student autonomy that comes with starting ninth grade. Students are often held to increasing academic expectations that put more of the responsibility in their own hands. If students react to those changes by disengaging from school, their academic futures could be in danger. In fact, a 2017 report by the School District of Philadelphia (SDP) found that the stronger a student’s ninth grade attendance, the more likely that he or she will graduate on time.