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Amid chronic absenteeism from pandemic, fewer DC students repeating 9th grade | WTOP

October 31, 2023
  • D.C. Policy Center

On October 30, 2023, an article by Chelsea Coffin and Hannah Mason was cited by WTOP:

Since the pandemic, data from the superintendent’s office shows that fewer D.C. public school students have been repeating the ninth grade. Taken at face value, that may sound like a good thing. However, a D.C.-based think tank said the numbers suggest some students have been promoted without mastering basic skills.

In a new analysis, the D.C. Policy Center said “repetition tends to be very high among ninth graders,” in D.C. schools. “This is because it is the first year where grade promotion depends on specific quantifiable metrics,” in which high schoolers have to accumulate a certain number of credits to be promoted to the next grade.

Before the pandemic, ninth grade repetition was on the rise — in 2019-2020, 28% of ninth-graders repeated. However, in 2021-2022, that number fell to 25%.

“This is likely due to the relaxation of related requirements around grading and attendance during the pandemic, which made it easier to earn the requisite credits for grade promotion,” according to the think tank.

Read more: Amid chronic absenteeism from pandemic, fewer DC students repeating 9th grade | WTOP

Related D.C. Policy Center publication: Chart of the Week: 9th grade repetition is down after the pandemic


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Established in 2016, the D.C. Policy Center is a non-partisan research and policy organization committed to advancing policies for a strong and vibrant economy in the District of Columbia. Through rigorous research and collaboration, the D.C. Policy Center develops and tests policy ideas, disseminates its findings, and engages in constructive dialogue and debate.

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