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9th Grade Orientation Program

(Carlos Alvarado)



Revision Date 7/30/13



The original idea and vision for the Three Semesters of Purpose program came during the summer of 2010.  The initial intention of the program was to provide a quality orientation of RMHS to 9th grade students and to reduce the number of 9th and 10th grade students that fail academic core classes during the first three semesters of high school. 

Historically, RMHS students that complete the first three semesters with quality grades, final exam marks and sufficient credit, including all required math credits, strengthen their standing at our school and usually proceed to graduate in four years or less.  Students that become credit deficient during this period often start a downward spiral and endanger their opportunity graduate from our school on time.   

Over the last three years, the program has developed into 9th grade intervention strategy directed at improving our overall graduation rate and helping students be prepared for life.   The program has been designed to provide a quality orientation and a tangible encouragement to graduate in four years or less.

First, the program emphasizes a practical target for all 9th graders to achieve 9.0 or more credits by the end of their third semester. 9th grade teachers and students are also supported multiple intervention programs created to guide 9th grade students through the three most important semesters of their high school experience.  Secondly, the program features an unprecedented focus on character education as part of the preparation process. Lastly, the program encourages student engagement on two levels: extracurricular engagement and academic guidance toward higher education.  The second level of engagement will feature a four year high school experience complete with grade-level academic guidance objectives to be accomplished by each student.  The program will eventually transform into a four year high school experience that focuses on the transition from high school to higher education; all to help all of our students prepare for college, career and life in the 21st Century.  

The following student achievement data was used to make decisions about the 3SP program design:

To date, the current design of the program includes the formation of a comprehensive interdisciplinary team approach on the 9th grade level that would provide each freshman student:

·    A full orientation to the physical campus, location of scheduled classes, orientation to the rules and an introduction to the 3 Semesters of Purpose & Commit To Graduate (C2G) themes (Jostens),


·       A full orientation and explanation of critical character attributes that are expected by school, employers and society,


·        A detailed encouragement to engage in all that RMHS has to offer,


·   A systematic reinforcement of the Three Semesters of Purpose / Commit to Graduate themes as promoted by faculty, staff and students,


·         Full access to all services and programs provided by the RMHS Counseling Department,


·  The opportunity to receive instruction via coordinated and professionally developed multidisciplinary teams,


·      To receive instruction complete with an external system of accountability for the completion of key standards-based assignments and/or to complete assigned mandatory tutorials,


·         Quality grade level tutorial interventions for mathematics,  (Grades 9 – 12)


·   And administrative intervention sessions with identified students (regular education and students with an IEP).

It is our full intent to have this program develop into a comprehensive four year program that serve  to orient, prepare, challenge to commit to graduate and to genuinely prepare for higher education.  At this juncture, the program has been developed through the first three semesters.  To capture the essence of the program, an equation formula has been created to reinforce the components of the program that will result in each student being prepared for life in the 21st Century.   Each 9th grade student will be issued a t-shirt, (free of cost), that has the Three Semester of Purpose / Commit to Graduate Theme along with the mission equation:


       December 2013                 3.0 Credits

       May of 2014                        6.0 Credits

       December of 2014            9.0 Credits

       Spring of 2015                   HS Accountability Testing

       May of 2017                        22 Credits & Graduation




The official 9th Grade Orientation Program consists of several different components that will systematically orient our new students to the RMHS campus.  Every year, the program will include the usual orientation activities such as: distribution of schedules and an opportunity to locate classroom locations prior to the start of school; guided campus tours; and orientation meetings for students.  The

The program will also feature a 9th Grade “parents only” meeting held prior to the start of the school year.   The purpose of the meeting is to introduce parents to our academic programs, intervention resources and the rules and policies of RMHS.  Parents will also be offered an opportunity to register for a MyMPS account code and to receive instruction on how to academically monitor their student through the first three semesters of high school.    

On the first day of school, all students will be asked to attend classes and meet their new teachers.  On the second day of school, all 9th grade students will participate in a systematic and coordinated orientation program facilitated by the 9th grade administrator and all of the academic core teachers at RMHS.  Each department will present a portion of the overall orientation program.  The 9th grade students will experience the following orientation topics:


·         English Teachers               Meeting with the 9th Grade Administrator for presentation


·         English Teachers               Technology Orientation 

·        Math Teachers                    Presentation of Academic Tutoring Programs 

·       Science Teachers               Handbook Orientation 

·        Social Studies                    Presentation of the Virtual Tour of Campus Video.


English teachers will also provide three additional opportunities for students to interact with the three remaining components of the program (one presentation per quarter).  Three presentations will be prepared and centered on the integrity and engagement components of the program.     



Respect the Mission component refers to the importance of academic preparation for college, career and life.  The component emphasized the fact that all 9th grade students are on an eleven year preparation journey from age 14 to 25.  Students will be encouraged to respect our school mission and the fact that they must prepare for the future by performing well academically in high school and by fully participating in the guided transition component toward higher education and/or specialized training after high school.  As part of respecting the mission, the students will be challenged to make a commitment to graduate from high school:

  • In four years or less;
  • With the best possible GPA;
  • With their integrity intact;
  • Having engaged in some extracurricular aspect of RMHS;
  • With a viable post-high school plan for higher education and/or specialized training; and
  • Prepared for age 25, the first interview and for life in the 21st Century.

The overarching mission target of the program will focus students toward being prepared for gainful employment at age 25.  A mission sequence will be articulated for all students during their eleven year preparation journey to age 25.  The Mission Sequence:

Three Semesters of Purpose                                                      9th Grade Year

Three Semesters of Purpose 2.0                                               10th Grade Year

Three Semesters of Purpose 3.0                                               11th Grade Year

Three Semesters of Purpose (Graduation)                               12th Grade Year

Post High School Preparation Stage                                         Age 18 – 24

First Career Interview                                                                   Somewhere Around Age 25

Also, each stage of the mission will be complete with academic credit and task-completion check points for each grade level of high school.  At the end of every school year, students will be asked to reflect on their progress through all check points.  The check points will include:

  •           Academic Credit Check Points;
  •           Required Academic Classes;
  •          Academic Plan for High School;
  •           Counseling Presentations for Higher Education and Career Readiness;
  •           Counseling Presentation and Completion of Tasks;
  •           Preparation for Formal Assessment (PSAT, ACT, SAT);
  •          College Application Process;
  •           College Scholarship Application Process;
  •           College Financial Aid Application Process; and
  •           Plans for Credit Recovery.

Another facet of Respect the Mission will be the idea of embracing academic challenge and rigor by all students.  All students will be encouraged to embrace academic challenge and rigor at all stages within the learning process.   Demonstrated mastery by assessment and application will be the goal for all learners as they proceed through the intended grade-level curriculum. 


Lastly, all of the 9th grade students will be introduced to the Commit to Graduate (Jostens) concept and will be asked to sign a commitment banner that will be displayed in the cafeteria.  In addition, each student will be issued a t-shirt to visually reinforce the program concepts: Three Semesters of Purpose and Commit to Graduate.




As students navigate through the four years of high school and prepare for the next stage after graduation, personal integrity is the key attribute towards lasting success.  Without personal integrity (honesty, trustworthiness, and a clear conscience), a person’s level of intelligence, talent, and/or status (SES) can be quickly nullified.  The ability to exhibit genuine integrity, especially when direct supervision is unavailable is essential for all students. 

“Intelligence plus character—that is the goal of true education.”   Dr. Martin Luther King

Almost with resounding agreement, society and all employers demand integrity from their while on the job and during the formal interview of prospective employees.      


The top 9 personal qualities/skills employers seek are listed below:

       Communication Skills (Verbal & Written);

       Honesty / Integrity;

       Teamwork Skills (works well with others);

       Strong Work Ethic / Motivation & Initiative;

       Analytical Skills;

       Flexibility / Adaptability;

       Interpersonal Skills (relates well to others);

       Computer / Technical Skills; and


(National Association of Colleges and Employers' Job Outlook Survey)

A new school-wide behavior plan has been developed for RMHS to reinforce the integrity factor and to help the faculty and staff establish an effective line of discipline that promotes integrity, communication, respect and trust between all stakeholders.  The 9th grade students will be introduced to the plan on the second day of school.  They will also experience a full character education presentation that will feature the instruction on the (student developed) RMHS Core Values: Courage; Respect; and Influence.  This component will be presented to all 9th grade students during the third quarter.


Regardless of the person, place, or circumstance, everyone is deserving of respectful acknowledgement and common courtesy.  The notion common courtesy simply refers to the age old principle of treating others as you would like to be treated. 







While demonstrating respect for others is important, all students must also demonstrate proper respect for conceptual constructs such as:

·         Authority

·         Rules and Regulations

·         The Educational Environment

·         The rights of others to learn free of distraction

·         The Mission (Leaving High School Prepared for the Next Stage)


o   Respect for authority refers to respecting all authority figures that they encounter.  (Authority figures such asparents, teachers, faculty and staff, community and municipal authorities, the experience of elders, and the laws that govern our state and country.)  All students must understand and embrace that obedience is wisdom.  They must also learn to respectfully self-advocate and question authority through established lines of communication and protocol. 


o    The ability to respect rules and regulations is essential for everyone regardless of age.  It is our goal to help students acquire respect for observing rules and regulations.   This is best achieved as students become aware of rules and when they understand the reason for the rule or regulation. 


o    Students must be made aware that they are responsible for the upkeep and general safety of their school environment.  When necessary, students should understand responsibility to respect, care for and protect their environment by reporting unsafe situations. 


o       All students have the right to attend school and learn in an environment that is free of distraction. 


o       Lastly, each student must acknowledge and respect the mission or the purpose as to why they are enrolled in our school.  They must take ownership of their education and apply focus and genuine effort towards their learning. 






Engagement refers to the systematic encouragement to have students engage in the extracurricular programs and activities offered at RMHS. A systematic presentation, invitation and advertising of all campus organization and extracurricular events will be facilitated by RMHS Student Council and by the members of each student-led organization.    

The second concept refers to having students to become aware of and engage in all of the services provided by RMHS Counseling Department.  The counselors will visit Social Studies and English Classrooms to start the process of introducing students to all services provided by the department.  The counselors will regularly schedule academic progress check points complete with information about academic programs, G.P.A. awareness, higher education transition, and options for credit recovery.    Eventually, a four year high school transition experience will be brought online that will feature guidance and intervention with regard to:

  •          Academic Credit Check Points;
  •          Required Academic Classes;
  •          Academic Plan for High School;
  •          Counseling Presentations for Higher Education and Career Readiness;
  •          Formal Introduction to the Career Center;
  •          Parent Information Presentations regarding College and Career Preparation;
  •          Counseling Presentation and Completion of Tasks;
  •          Preparation for Formal Assessment (PSAT, ACT, SAT, AP);
  •          College Application Process;
  •          College Scholarship Application Process;
  •          College Financial Aid Application Process; and

·         Plans for Credit Recovery.

The four year transition experience will be designated as the culminating component of the entire Three Semesters of Purpose Program; and will be titled:

·         Three Semesters of Purpose 2.0                               Sophomore Year;

·         Three Semesters of Purpose 3.0                               Junior Year; and

·         Three Semesters of Purpose 4.0                               Senior Year.



At the beginning of each semester, 9th grade students will be asked to complete a reflection questionnaire that will enlist student response to key questions about their previous academic semester. 



The Three Semesters of Purpose Program will feature the members of the 9th grade academic core faculty (English, Math, Science and Social Studies) expanding their current PLC collaborative efforts to include interdisciplinary teaming across the grade level.  The 9th grade faculty will be professionally introduced to The Art of Teaming, McDaniel, 2013.  The team will be professionally developed to function as an interdisciplinary team and to convey instruction using research-based instructional best practices.  They will also receive training that will allow them to facilitate the process of teaching critical reading to promote increased literacy and to strengthen communication/writing skills within their content areas.   A core group of the 9th grade faculty will begin the professional development process during the fall of 2013 and will hopefully be able to pilot the first RMHS interdisciplinary team during the Fall of 2014.   The overall goal of the teaming and the professional development is to have the 9th grade faculty prepared to function as a coordinated team for instructional purposes and to facilitate the tenants of the program. 

The 9th grade faculty will be developed and introduced to a wealth of research-based instructional strategies.  Here is an example of the strategies that will be introduced:

                CLASSROOM INSTRUCTION THAT WORKS / Research Based Strategies for Increasing Student Achievement / Robert J. Marzano – Debra J. Pickering – Jane E. Pollack


  • Identifying Similarities and Differences
  • Summarizing and Note Taking
  • Reinforcing Effort and Providing Recognition
  • Homework and Practice
  • Non Linguistic Representations
  • Cooperative Learning
  • Setting Objectives and Providing Feedback
  • Generating and Testing Hypothesis
  • Cues, Questions and Advanced Organizers


Upon review of the research, use of the above mentioned strategies produce “high yield” percentage student achievement gains.  (Classroom Instruction that Works, Marzano, Pickering and Pollack, 2001.)


·         Similarities and Differences                                                         45% Gain

·         Summarizing and Notetaking                                                     34% Gain

·         Reinforcing Effort and Providing Recognition                       29% Gain

·         Homework and Practice                                                               28% Gain

·         Nonlinguistic Representations                                                   27% Gain

·         Cooperative Learning                                                                   27% Gain

·         Setting Objectives and Providing Feedback                          23% Gain

·         Generating and Testing Hypothesis                                         23% Gain

·         Cues, Questions and Advanced Organizers                          22% Gain


The proven research-based instructional strategies employed by the AVID Program (Advancement Via Individual Determination) will also be introduced as viable strategies that can produce “high yield” student achievement results.  The AVID instructional strategies are identified as WICOR – Writing, Inquiry, Collaboration, Organization, and Reading) and have been successfully implemented by AVID program teachers for years.


Another key to increasing student achievement within the interdisciplinary team model is to have the participating members of the faculty effectively differentiate their instruction.  RMHS has experienced tremendous gains with the students that have participated in the formal math tutorial intervention program largely due to the fact that their tutorial lessons have been effectively differentiated.   Therefore, our 9th grade faculty will also be introduced to and offered professional development on how to differentiate instruction.  The group will be introduced to the text, THE DIFFERENTIATED CLASSROOM, Responding to the Needs of All Learners, by Carol Ann Tomlinson as a possible guide to organize instructional planning.


In preparation of receiving the 2017 9th grade cohort, all pertinent student achievement data (grades and assessment scores) will be ordered and organized for review.  The 9th grade administrator will then prepare intervention and tutorial targets based upon identified students that exhibited low student achievement (grades or standardized assessment scores). 

An academic intervention will be enacted that will allow the 9th grade administrator the opportunity to meet with specific identified students that experienced little to no academic success as an 8th grade student.  The intervention will establish a line of communication between the student, parent and the administrator/teachers that will serve as the beginning of a support system for the student.  The student will then be asked to meet with the administrator at predetermined points during the semester for the purpose of providing academic support for the student in the form of progress grade checks, an organization review and, if needed, immediate assignment to one of two Get It Done (GID) programs. 

An intervention tutorial program for mathematics has been developed at RMHS to lend assistance to students on all four grade levels.  Students will be identified for participation in our “pull out” math program and students will be given data information that will explain the reason behind the need to be tutored. 

The Get It Done (GID) program was created as a homework intervention strategy for Math and Science teachers.  Essentially, math and science teacher are given the ability to assign a GID lunch session for the purpose of homework completion.  Lunch GID was successfully piloted last school year.  This school year, another GID program entitled, GID Thursdays is being piloted this spring and it will serve English, science and social studies teachers.  GID Thursdays is comprised of an administrative placement into our in-school suspension supervision room in order to complete work.  Both GID programs offer a tutorial assistance option for students. 



To be determined by the 9th Grade Leadership Team and RM Administrative Team.