Probation schools see freshman enrollment plummet

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Over the last two years, the enrollment of first-time 9th-graders dropped 22 percent in probation high schools and 38 percent in reconstituted high schools, according to a study by the Center for Urban School Policy at Northwestern University.

The decline is due mainly to the Reform Board’s promotion policy, that has stricter requirements for students entering high school, says center director Fred Hess, a co-author of the study.

Between fall 1995 and fall 1997, probation and reconstituted high schools “lost” about 4,200 students. Of those, about 1,800 were 8th-graders who were retained in 8th grade, 1,371 were older 8th-graders who were sent to transition centers, 199 went to elementary or middle schools that have added a 9th grade, and 1,000 were unaccounted for.

King High suffered the largest drop, 52 percent, enrolling a freshman class of only 167 students last fall. With a 41 percent drop, Phillips was next, enrolling a freshman class of 211 last fall.

Citywide, the number of first-time 9th-graders dropped 10 percent from 29,530 in fall 1995 to 26,623 in fall 1997.