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Freshmen walk out of their high school building

Freshman-focused issue briefs, presentations, posters, and more

The To&Through Project’s freshman success resources provide educators, students, and families with a set of tools to learn and spark conversations about what matters most for freshman success. Designed to engage a wide variety of audiences, the resources include freshman-focused issue briefs, presentations, posters, and more. Explore the freshman success resources below.

The Network for College Success Freshman OnTrack Toolkit

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

The Second Window Documentary Film

Early childhood has long been recognized as the critical window for establishing positive life trajectories. However, mounting evidence from neuroscience, developmental psychology, and education points to a second window — the infamously “awkward” adolescent years. The Second Window spotlights the research that inspired Chicago Public Schools’ bet on students’ ninth grade year and catalyzed sustained, system-wide improvement. It illuminates how changing adults’ mindsets about what is possible in adolescence can change policy, practice, and lives. 

Freshman Success Issue Briefs

Research from the UChicago Consortium shows that freshman year is a make-it-or-break-it year for students. Freshman year grades and attendance are more predictive of whether a student will graduate than race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and prior test scores combined. The issue briefs below summarize these and other key UChicago Consortium research findings on what matters most for freshman success. They can be printed as flyers, or the text within the briefs can be incorporated into newsletters.

Presentations for Freshman Success

The To&Through Project presentations for freshman educators round up what we know about the transition to high school and power of grades from more than a decade’s worth of research from the UChicago Consortium. Designed with a wide variety of audiences in mind, the presentations are also a useful tool for students transitioning to the ninth grade and their families.

"Did You Know?" Posters

This set of "Did You Know?" posters highlights key facts on what it takes for freshmen to be successful in high school. The posters are designed to draw students' attention to what matters most for their high school success based on decades of UChicago Consortium research. They can be printed and displayed in schools, after-school program facilities, and other spaces intended to help students thrive. They can also be used as handouts or flyers.

Data Insights on the Freshman Year

The To&Through Project data insights on the freshman year are visualizations of the UChicago Consortium’s most important research discoveries about what fosters high school success. Designed to be easily understood by students and other key audiences, the data insights may be used in presentations, printed as flyers, or included in emails and other communications. ​Learn more about the forces and factors that drive freshman success by downloading the data insights below.

Myths and Facts about High School Success

The path to and through high school is riddled with misguided notions and outdated assumptions about what freshmen should know, do, and focus on in order to maximize their chances for success. Fortunately, more than a decade’s worth of research and data from the UChicago Consortium has helped solidify the facts and dispel myths about what it takes to make it to and through high school.

Social Media Toolkit: Freshman Success Edition

The social media toolkit consists of sample Facebook posts and tweets that illuminate important insights on what matters most for high school success. The language in this toolkit can also be used for other social media platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat. Each post includes a link to student and parent / guardian resources designed to illuminate what matters most for students' high school success.

Freshman Success Stories

Our collection of Freshman Success Stories profiles schools and organizations that have experienced success in illuminating neighborhood trends in educational attainment, raising Freshman OnTrack rates, and increasing freshman GPAs and attendance rates. Each story provides background, insights, and recommended strategies for your own students' success.

Looking for more? Read The Educational Attainment of Chicago Public Schools Students report to see how researchers are tracking Chicago Public Schools (CPS) students' high school and college progress and utilizing our Post-secondary Attainment Index (PAI). Use The Forgotten Year: Applying Lessons from Freshman Success to Sophomore Year (2020) report to develop intervention plans and better support students for success throughout their high school experience.