Ninth Grade Academy

Ninth Grade Academy

The Ninth Grade academies, developed around the concept of a small learning community, is a school-within-a-school organized around interdisciplinary teams of English, math, science, and social studies who share a specific area of the school building. Incoming freshmen are connected to a select team of caring academies staff who will use research proven best instructional strategies to teach the curriculum as well as address their students' needs more personally.

Teachers work in a collaborative environment and are committed to the learning of the students they share. The freshmen orientation course "Connections" focuses on developing and honing the personal and academic skills of these students, while connecting them to their academic and career pathways that will define their next three years of high school.


It is the mission of the Ninth Grade academies to assist the incoming freshman make a smooth transition into high school and meet the rigorous high school standards.

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To provide programs and supports addressing the unique needs of entering freshman resulting in increased achievement (objectives will be reviewed this summer)

  • Objective 1: The passing rate of students from grade 9 to grade 10 will increase by 5%.
  • Objective 2: The percentage of students losing credit and/or failing one or more courses during the freshman year will decline by 5% for each sub-group of the population.
  • Objective 3: The average GPA of freshman will increase by .25 for each sub group of the population.
  • Objective 4: The percentage of freshmen who pass the countywide end of course exam and/or the High School Assessment in English, Algebra 1, Biology, and NSL will increase by 5% for each sub-group of the population.
  • Objective 5: The percentage of freshman who are eligible to participate in extracurricular activities will increase by 5% for each sub group of the population, and the participation levels in these activities will increase at the same level.

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Academy Features

  • Incoming first time freshmen are assigned to a house of 80 - 100 students. (A house is an organizational arrangement that assigns students and teachers to teams in a set of rooms). Self-contained special education students will continue with the same level of support. Mainstreamed students, supported by special education instructors, will be assigned to a house with the same team expectations.
  • Each House
    • consists of cross-curricular teams of English, math, science, and social studies teachers with one member serving as a team coordinator (Lead Teacher),
    • contains courses of varying abilities, i.e. honors, regular, and acceleration, and
    • has a common planning period for staff to meet. 
  • Students remain with the teachers in their houses the entire year.
  • Located on the third floor in a designated part of the building
  • Students may participate in required and elective classes outside their house, as well as other activities such as clubs and sports
  • 1:20 teacher student ratio
  • Engaging and challenging curriculum with an integrated, interdisciplinary approach that uses academic content and skills to address real world projects and problems
  • Academically rigorous education that maintains high expectations for each student
  • Careful monitoring of student performance and attendance
  • Data -driven decision making
  • Structured system of appropriate extra help
  • Modified Block Schedule
  • Intensive math and literacy instruction delivered to students who are two grades or more below 9th grade level
  • Advisor/Advisee program (Teachers as Educational Advisors and Mentors)
  • Frequent contact between school and parents
  • Literacy infusion into all content areas
  • Job shadowing experiences
  • Ongoing recognition of accomplishments
  • Freshman course "Connections"

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Benefits to Students (Research Based) include:

  • increased academic achievement,
  • reduced discrepancies in the achievement gap that plague poorer children and, too often, children of color,
  • increased student attendance, attitudes and behavior,
  • reduction isolation that often seeds alienation and violence,
  • promotion positive feelings about self and others,
  • increased number of students matriculating to 10th grade,
  • lower student drop out rate,
  • increased extracurricular participation rate,
  • development student awareness of academic/career options,
  • stronger student-teacher relationships,
  • enhancement of student ability to apply academic content and the Skills For Success: Learning, Thinking, Technology, Interpersonal, and Communication skills in real world and workplace settings,
  • integration of academic and technical skills, and
  • involvement of each student along with his/her parent/guardian in a guidance and advisory system.

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Benefits to Instructional Staff  (Research Based) include:

  • shared mission, beliefs, and values that forms a basis for action,
  • common planning period, a time to meet and talk,
  • class load of approximately 100 students,
  • reduction of teacher isolation, a de-privatization of practice,
  • collective responsibility for students' success
  • increase in teacher satisfaction, morale,
  • powerful learning through sharing, observing, and discussing teaching methods and philosophies,
  • collective focus on student learning,
  • opportunities for conducting action research projects,
  • increase in understanding of teacher's role in helping all students achieve,
  • personal professional development opportunities to develop expertise in the knowledge and skills of teaching,
  • development of new relationships,
  • opportunity to develop curriculum,
  • high levels of teacher empowerment, and
  • potential leadership opportunities.

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Ninth Grade Academy Lead Teacher Responsibilities

Each of the four houses of the NGA will have a lead teacher with one daily release period. 

The lead teacher will:

  • teach with the team; assist team members in setting an inviting, stimulating, and supportive climate and environment for the students,
  • seek and coordinate resources for the team and keeps informed of new trends and programs in the field of responsibility,
  • clarify goals and priorities,
  • coordinate the team approach to management of student behavior;
  • coordinate the evaluation and improvement of the instructional program provided by the team,
  • facilitate collection of data and team analysis of data,
  • coordinate all team activities,
  • coordinate parent conferences and other parent contacts for the House and assists in community involvement programs,
  • assist in assessing need for, planning, and providing staff development for team members,
  • assist in articulation program,
  • represent the House/Ninth Grade academies on the Instructional Council,
  • coordinate services and communication with the other NGA Houses, the guidance department, the school administration, and the rest of the school,
  • assist in development, implementation, and monitoring of management plans and grants as they relate to Board of Education priorities and curriculum implementation,
  • participate in interviewing and selection of new staff for the team, and
  • facilitate good interpersonal relationships among team members.

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Ninth Grade Academy Lead Team Responsibilities

Each ninth grade core subject teacher will be part of a team with a common planning period. 

As a team member, each teacher will be expected to

  • construct and support a system of shared beliefs and values which form a basis for action.
  • collectively accept responsibility for student learning.
  • create and enforce NGA management policies.
  • participate in the collection and analysis of student data and be willing to adjust instruction based on that data analysis.
  • develop and deploy a system of student incentives and recognition awards based upon attendance, academic achievement, character and leadership.
  • participate in staff development opportunities and be willing to try the suggested ideas.
  • meet with team members during common planning time to discuss management, instructional and learner issues.
  • collaborate with team members to design and teach interdisciplinary units.

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