What does Changing the Odds mean in practice? Well, for a student to succeed in high school, it means starting 9th grade on track, staying on track, and graduating. And to do this, Hillcrest High and Midvale Middle realized they needed to help 8th graders make the transition to 9th grade, something that is not always easy, especially if you are already behind academically.
So, these schools came up with a solution: summer school. Wait a minute, summer school?!
That doesn’t sound like much of a solution—we all know 9th graders don’t really want to spend their summer in school! And you’re right, the real solution designed by Hillcrest and Midvale principals was figuring out how to get 75, struggling, eighth-going-on-ninth graders to come to school over the summer, so they can start high school with a head start.
How’d they do it? Pay them!
For every day a student comes to school, they receive $5, paid for by a United Way of Salt Lake grant. Students are paid not only to attend, but stay engaged and finish the work of the day. Each day the kids line up with their payment cards signed by the teachers indicating they have earned their $5 for the day. That means that by coming to school 30 days over the summer, they walk away with $150.
And 30 days of additional learning means these students will be ready for what’s coming their way in August, so that they can start on track — and stay on track.
And guess what, it’s working! On any given day, the Hillcrest summer program averages almost 100 percent attendance. What’s next? Making sure it worked by tracking these students through their first and subsequent years at Hillcrest High.
So, more to come!