Duluth News Tribune: ‘A game changer’: Denfeld begins new work to improve student outcomes

“This could be a game changer,” said Tom Tusken, a longtime Denfeld teacher and former administrator who has been trained to coordinate the effort for the school. “It doesn’t change what you do; it changes how you do it.”

Denfeld is using the program for its freshman class, an age group known nationally for high rates of failure, and at Denfeld, with higher rates of failure than other grades. The transition to high school from eighth grade can be hard, as kids learn to deal with things such as peer pressure, less structure and more choice. The year often acts as a bellwether for what’s to come.

“All the research says this is a tipping point,” Tusken said. “If students are successful in ninth grade, they tend to graduate and graduate on time. If they don’t succeed in ninth grade, they tend to struggle throughout high school.”

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