Here at the To&Through Project, we work to make data accessible with an aim to inspire action. As a result, we’ve often had the honor of being privy to our colleagues’ personal reflections on the data we share, and their varying perspectives shape the way we think about this work.
Below, we share Nate Pietrini’s reflections on one of our Data Insights — which summarize years of research from the UChicago Consortium and To&Through Project — and his pushes for thinking about how students’ voices can inform our collective work to improve the system.
This number is tragically low, and seeing the data dissected and displayed in this way motivates me to work harder for my students and to advocate citywide for policies and practices that will improve this number. A bachelor’s degree, while not a panacea, is a strong predictor of a family-sustaining wage, a healthier life, and more civic engagement. Every ninth-grade student should be able to look at the road to and through college and know that it is a realistic option for them because of the care and supports around them.
To improve outcomes, we need to focus not just on high school but on middle school. We enable students to thrive in high school when we boost their success in core subjects in the middle grades, and when we strengthen their social and emotional wellbeing, confidence in self, and understanding of their identity as emerging adolescents. If we were successful in these efforts in middle school, then the crucial years of ninth and tenth grade could become less about Freshman OnTrack and Sophomore OnTrack metrics and more about college readiness.
—Nate Pietrini, Executive Director of High Jump