The To&Through Project: Freshman On-Track Toolkit

Freshman OnTrack is more predictive of a student’s likelihood of graduating from high school than race, socioeconomic status, and prior achievement combined.

Elaine Allensworth
Lewis-Sebring Director, University of Chicago Consortium on School Research at the Urban Education Institute

The Network for College Success's Freshman OnTrack Toolkit is a collection of protocols, reports, resources, and artifacts used by our experienced Coaches in their daily work to help schools better support students through the critical first year of high school. 

The Toolkit provides your school or district with valuable information on how to develop educator teams that are focused on research, data, and successful practices to help freshmen succeed.

 

Success Components

The Toolkit is organized around four Components we believe are critical to implementing Freshman OnTrack work. For each Component, you will find a collection of Tool Sets, or bundles of tools (including videos), organized to help you achieve freshman success goals.

Toolkit Component

Understanding Research & Applying Data

The application of research and data to practice is essential to On-Track work. In this Component, you will find tools to further your understanding of the On-Track research and data.

Toolkit Component

Preparing to Lead

Strong leadership is vital to a successful On-Track initiative. In this Component, you will find tools to develop the capacity and leadership skills of Success Team Leads. 

Toolkit Component

Setting Conditions for Success

Trust and respect is the foundation for developing and sustaining a successful team. In this Component, you will find tools to cultivate trust and respect while creating a community amongst team members. 

Toolkit Component

Implementing School-Based Teams

Effective school-based teams are the anchors of successful On-Track initiatives. In this Component, you will find tools to support accountable adult collaboration.

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Use the Toolkit

The entire NCS Freshman OnTrack Toolkit is available for download. The download includes the About section, an Overview of the NCS Freshman Success Framework, and Tool Sets for all four Components.

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Am I On Track? Poster

A student-friendly poster that describes the On-Track metric and provides students with clear criteria for evaluating their own On-Track status.

Milestones
  • Freshman OnTrack
  • High School Graduation
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Annotated Bibliography of UChicago Consortium Research on the Transition to High School

Since the initial research on the On-Track metric, UChicago Consortium researchers have studied the transition to high school again and again to develop a large body of work on the critical nature of freshman year in Chicago Public Schools. This annotated bibliography provides an overview of the most important UChicago Consortium research over the past decade as well as how the findings push practice on the ground.

Milestones
  • Freshman OnTrack
  • High School Graduation
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ATLAS-Looking at Data Protocol

A protocol designed for use when data is a focal point for discussion. The structured approach of a protocol, with clear norms and expectations for conversation, creates a safe space for all participants. The protocol supports equity of voice and allows all members to describe the data, make inferences, and share implications for future work.

Milestones
  • Freshman OnTrack
  • High School Graduation
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Behavior, Attendance, and Grades (BAG) Report

A school-generated tool for educators to interact with students on behavior, attendance, and grades. Ideally, schools will produce these reports every five weeks. BAG Reports use real-time data so students understand where and how they are struggling, and which educators they may need to reach out to for support. They also help students understand their current status in relation to their goals. Schools can use BAG Reports in different ways, including individual conversations with students or holding “town hall” meetings for all freshmen to review the data and set next steps.

Milestones
  • Freshman OnTrack
  • High School Graduation
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Cleaning the Lens Protocol

This protocol re-establishes individual commitments by reconnecting team members with the work on a personal level.

Milestones
  • Freshman OnTrack
  • High School Graduation
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Communication Styles Matrix

An overview of four common communication styles that can be found on any team and ways to support Team Leads to make appropriate responses to each communication style.

Milestones
  • Freshman OnTrack
  • High School Graduation
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Communities that Undermine Learning

An article that describes how three community prototypes – Toxic, Lassiez-Faire, and Congenial – serve as obstacles to team functioning and, as a result, limit improvement efforts.

Milestones
  • Freshman OnTrack
  • High School Graduation
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Community Call: Icebreakers and Warm-Ups

Community Calls are brief activities that take place at the beginning of the meeting. They enable team members to share what makes them stay committed to each other and the work.

Milestones
  • Freshman OnTrack
  • High School Graduation
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Compass Points

This protocol allows team members to consider their own working styles as well as the working styles of others.

Milestones
  • Freshman OnTrack
  • High School Graduation
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Considerations for Planning Tier 2 Interventions

A set of guiding questions to use during the development of an intervention system. Questions are focused on looking at student data, targeting students, and intervention selection, implementation, and effectiveness.

Milestones
  • Freshman OnTrack
  • High School Graduation
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Conversations in Schools that Improve Student Achievement

A quick guide that provides criteria and specific language for collegial conversations focused on student outcomes.

Milestones
  • Freshman OnTrack
  • High School Graduation
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Dealing with Difficult People in Meetings

An article that explores challenging personality types in and provides tips to create collaborative meetings.

Milestones
  • Freshman OnTrack
  • High School Graduation
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Developing the Risk and Opportunity Framework

This slide deck breaks down the data system that Chicago schools now use to monitor freshman success. As the On-Track work evolved, UChicago Consortium researchers and the Network for College Success collaborated to develop a broader data framework to guide improvement efforts. Called the Risk and Opportunity Framework, it now functions as a detailed early warning indicator system for monitoring freshman success in schools throughout Chicago. Adopting this new and more complex data system also helped practitioners move from improving On-Track rates to increasing freshman course performance to higher levels.

Milestones
  • Freshman OnTrack
  • High School Graduation
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Developing Your Upward Management Plan

A presentation that provides a sample plan to support Team Leads to understand upward management as a key lever for leadership. The presentation describes upward management and provides strategies for supporting leads to establish regular communication with their principals.

Milestones
  • Freshman OnTrack
  • High School Graduation
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Easing the Transition to High School

A chronicle of one suburban high school’s journey to shift the culture of support for freshmen through the creation of a Freshman Advisory program focused on connecting students to the high school and providing them with academic and social survival skills.

Milestones
  • Freshman OnTrack
  • High School Graduation
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Forming Ground Rules

A protocol to support Success Teams to develop norms that will shape how they work together. Ground rules help teams to establish trust and clarify expectations.

Milestones
  • Freshman OnTrack
  • High School Graduation
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Freshman Academy Team Calendar Planning Considerations

Illustrates team structures and routines focused on freshman success, including data sources and meeting times.

Milestones
  • Freshman OnTrack
  • High School Graduation
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Freshman OnTrack Unit Plan

An instructional unit created and implemented by the guidance department. Teachers can modify the unit for use during seminar and/or advisory classes.

Milestones
  • Freshman OnTrack
  • High School Graduation
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Freshman Success Inventory

A tool to collaboratively assess the current practices across three main areas – the Success Team, the Team Leader, and the Administration – using four performance levels (Embedded, Practicing, Emerging, and Not Yet Practicing).

Milestones
  • Freshman OnTrack
  • High School Graduation
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How Adults Can Work Together Presentation

A sample presentation to share with Success Team members focused on working together to improve On-Track rates.

Milestones
  • Freshman OnTrack
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Ideas for Engaging Students to Stay On Track

A menu of engagement activities aligned with the school calendar to support timely and relevant student engagement in On-Track efforts.

Milestones
  • Freshman OnTrack
  • High School Graduation
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Intervention Evaluation Flowchart

A pathway to determine if individual interventions are working for schools and to improve the use of data to succesfully implement interventions.

Milestones
  • Freshman OnTrack
  • High School Graduation
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Intervention Interview Protocol

A protocol that focuses on intervention design and implementation through the lens of Boleman & Deal’s Four Frames. Intended to be completed as a small group activity, the protocol helps Team Leads arrive at concrete next steps for revamping an intervention plan.

Milestones
  • Freshman OnTrack
  • High School Graduation
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Intervention Success Monthly Action Plan (IS-MAP)

Supports action planning using results from the Intervention Evaluation Flowchart.

Milestones
  • Freshman OnTrack
  • High School Graduation
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Mentoring Minority Students

An article describing one urban high school’s approach to creating special classes for high-achieving minority students in an effort to increase minority enrollment in honors courses.

Milestones
  • Freshman OnTrack
  • High School Graduation
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Modified Hopes and Fears Protocol

An activity that acknowledges significant events and related fears to move a team forward while allowing space for individual processing.

Milestones
  • Freshman OnTrack
  • High School Graduation
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Quick Guide to Tracking Interventions

Guidelines for designing an intervention tracking tool.

Milestones
  • Freshman OnTrack
  • High School Graduation
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Reframing Organizations

An article that summarizes Bolman and Deal’s Four Frames organizational theory (structural, political, human resources, and symbolic) by which leaders can view their work.

Milestones
  • Freshman OnTrack
  • High School Graduation
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Relationships Matter

A review of the research on the importance of student-teacher relationships as a lever for student academic achievement. Practical suggestions are also provided.

Milestones
  • Freshman OnTrack
  • High School Graduation
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Sample Job Descriptions for Success Team Leads & Members

This set of sample job descriptions clarifies the roles and responsibilities of Team Leads and members.

Milestones
  • Freshman OnTrack
  • High School Graduation
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Stages of Team Development

An article that discusses the developmental stages of team formation using the authors’ personal experiences and research. The article can support new Team Leads to understand each stage as a required and necessary part of the team formation process.

Milestones
  • Freshman OnTrack
  • High School Graduation
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Student Success Intervention Plan

A planning tool for student interventions that includes the identification of baseline data, criteria for success, status checkpoints, and plans for reflection.

Milestones
  • Freshman OnTrack
  • High School Graduation
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Success Analysis Protocol

A protocol to analyze the development of a best practice so lessons can be applied to future work.

Milestones
  • Freshman OnTrack
  • High School Graduation
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Success Team in Action: Hancock High School Video

A video that provides a snapshot of a Success Team facilitating an accountable conversation about student outcomes.

Milestones
  • Freshman OnTrack
  • High School Graduation
Video

Success Team in Action: North-Grand High School Video

A video that provides a snapshot of a Success Team holding an accountable conversation using a structured protocol.

Milestones
  • Freshman OnTrack
  • High School Graduation
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Success Team Meeting Agenda Template

A tool that can serve as a thoughtful road map for accomplishing the goals of the team meeting. 

Milestones
  • Freshman OnTrack
  • High School Graduation
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Success Team Meeting Planning Checklist

This checklist guides the careful and intentional planning of team meetings.

Milestones
  • Freshman OnTrack
  • High School Graduation
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Team Lead Orientation

A sample orientation presentation that establishes expectations for Team Leads and can be used as a guide for establishing a district and/or school-based program for Team Leads.

Milestones
  • Freshman OnTrack
  • High School Graduation
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Technical Notes for Freshman OnTrack

This document was created by Chicago Public Schools to define how Freshman OnTrack is calculated and provides considerations for appropriate use of the metric.

Milestones
  • Freshman OnTrack
  • High School Graduation
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The Developmental Relationships Framework

This Framework, produced by the Search Institute, has identified five elements—expressed in 20 specific actions—that make relationships powerful in young people’s lives. Educators must build relationships with freshmen so they can successfully navigate the transition to high school. These relationships not only support students in the classroom, but can help them discover who they are in the world.

Milestones
  • Freshman OnTrack
  • High School Graduation
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The Magic of Mentoring

The basics of establishing a school-based mentoring program, including how to structure a program, the role of a mentor, and supporting ongoing mentoring relationships.

Milestones
  • Freshman OnTrack
  • High School Graduation
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Thirteen Tips to Effective Upward Management

An article that provides practical strategies for Team Leads to support upward management, tips for common personality types for upward managers, and how to avoid missteps.

Milestones
  • Freshman OnTrack
  • High School Graduation
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UChicago Consortium Freshman OnTrack Briefs for Students and Parents

Created by the UChicago Consortium, these documents provide a research-based, user-friendly explanation of the Freshman OnTrack metric and how the metric relates to high school graduation and postsecondary outcomes.

Milestones
  • Freshman OnTrack
  • High School Graduation
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Upward Management Plan Checklist

A checklist that guides Team Leads to develop an upward management plan focused on communication through the use of protocols and regular meetings between Team Leads and administrators.

Milestones
  • Freshman OnTrack
  • High School Graduation
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Wagon Wheel Tool for Data Analysis

A tool that allows for the triangulation and assessment of multiple variables and data points.

Milestones
  • Freshman OnTrack
  • High School Graduation
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What Does "On-Track" Mean?

A presentation that introduces the Freshman OnTrack metric to students as well as emphasizing the importance of attendance and grades in freshman year.

Milestones
  • Freshman OnTrack
  • High School Graduation
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What Matters for Staying On-Track & Graduating in Chicago Public High Schools

In this research report, UChicago Consortium authors Elaine Allensworth and John Q. Easton look into the elements of course performance that predict whether students will graduate and suggest what schools and families can do to keep more teens in school.

Milestones
  • Freshman OnTrack
  • High School Graduation
Toolkit Component

Understanding Research & Applying Data

The application of research and data to practice is essential to On-Track work. In this Component, you will find tools to further your understanding of the On-Track research and data.

Milestones
Toolkit Component

Preparing to Lead

Strong leadership is vital to a successful On-Track initiative. In this Component, you will find tools to develop the capacity and leadership skills of Success Team Leads. 

Milestones
Toolkit Component

Setting Conditions for Success

Trust and respect is the foundation for developing and sustaining a successful team. In this Component, you will find tools to cultivate trust and respect while creating a community amongst team members. 

Milestones
Toolkit Component

Implementing School-Based Teams

Effective school-based teams are the anchors of successful On-Track initiatives. In this Component, you will find tools to support accountable adult collaboration.

Milestones