Helping Ninth Graders Stay on Track


Roughly one-quarter of local students do not graduate from high school on time. Our research shows that students who complete ninth grade with six or more credits are four times more likely
to graduate.

Collaboration is essential to helping students start high school strong and the summer is a critical opportunity to engage. For 10 years, schools and community partners have teamed up through the Ninth Grade Counts partnership with a commitment to identify and engage the students who will benefit most from an extra boost into high school.



Since 2009, Ninth Grade Counts has worked with nonprofits, schools and other partners to put kids on the path to graduation. In 2018, more than 800 students participated in 17 Ninth Grade
Counts programs at 53 sites. Programs provide academic support, college and career exposure and enrichment opportunities like science field trips, guest speakers and workshops on healthy
relationships and social justice. Each program targets eighth graders who show early warning signs of dropping out, and our partner districts award 0.5 elective credits to students who complete the program. More than 6,800 students have participated in Ninth Grade Counts since 2009.

2019 Ninth Grade Counts Summer Program Providers:

  • Boys & Girls Clubs of Portland Metropolitan Area
  • Centennial School District
  • David Douglas School District
  • El Programa Hispano Católico
  • Elevate Oregon
  • Girls Inc. of the Pacific Northwest
  • Gresham-Barlow School District
  • Immigrant & Refugee Community Organization
  • Latino Network
  • Metropolitan Family Service
  • Multnomah County SUN Service System
  • Native American Youth and Family Center
  • Open School
  • Portland Leadership Foundation
  • Portland Parks & Recreation
  • Portland Public Schools
  • Reynolds School District
  • Self Enhancement, Inc.
  • University of Portland
  • Warner Pacific University


Other Ninth Grade Counts Partners:

  • Campus Compact of Oregon
  • Multnomah County Library
  • Northwest Evaluation Association
  • Oregon Alliance of Independent Colleges and Universities
  • Oregon Museum of Science and Industry
  • Planned Parenthood Columbia Willamette
  • Schoolhouse Supplies
  • TriMet



Each year, we compare outcomes of program participants with those of students who do not participate.

Students who complete Ninth Grade Counts:
+ Earn more credit during ninth grade
+ Attend school more consistently
+ Graduate at a higher rate



After 10 years, it is time to reassess our progress and goals and recommit to collective action. This is especially true given staff turnover in school districts and partner agencies. Members are evaluating their approach to student enrollment and outreach to ensure they engage the students who will benefit most. Programs are also focused on building year-round supports and check-ins with students to keep them on track throughout the school year.


“High school is where it actually matters. It’s where we try to figure out what we want to become. The future seems far away but it’s already here.”

– Nicole, Student, Native American Youth & Family Center Ninth Grade Counts Program, Summer 2018
(Read more about Nicole’s experience in Ninth Grade Counts here)