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Created in Chicago and implemented nationwide, Success Bound guides middle school students through the process of developing and refining a unique vision for the future while building awareness of the ways that their daily choices contribute to realizing that vision. In weekly lessons, students learn new skills to take ownership of their learning, seek help from others, and respond to adversity. 

The Success Bound model has been implemented in 200 schools and is helping over 25,000 students prepare for high school, identify pathways to postsecondary success, and take ownership of their education. Success Bound offers resource toolkits and one-on-one coaching and consulting to others interested in implementing the model

  • Postsecondary Knowledge & Assets
  • Learning Strategies & Habits
  • Integrated Identity
  • Goal Setting and Reflection
  • Self-Exploration
  • Resource Toolkit
  • Professional Development
  • 1:1 Coaching & Consulting

What Makes this Model Innovative?

Active Self-Direction
Students take ownership of their education and life. They learn how to set goals and monitor progress, as well as how to seek help and advocate for themselves.
Customization
Students explore high school and postsecondary options connected to their individual interests, goals, and priorities.
High Expectations with Unlimited Opportunities for All
Students are held to high expectations for post-secondary readiness and are supported by adults who believe in the potential of all students.

Goals

Success Bound is designed to help students prepare themselves for success in high school, college, and beyond by focusing on five key themes:

Self-Exploration

Students will develop an understanding of their strengths and values and how that contributes to success in the classroom, as well as their future goals.

Social Capital

Students will identify key people and resources necessary for reaching their high school and postsecondary goals.

Student Success Skills

Students will learn how to set goals and monitor their grades and attendance to stay on track for high school graduation.

High School Awareness & Selection

Students will navigate their high school options and learn how to apply and prepare for enrollment in high school.

Postsecondary Life & Vision

Students will explore career and postsecondary options and discuss how they connect to their interests, goals, and priorities.

Experience

The Success Bound model is composed of a core curriculum of weekly lessons in 6th through 8th grade. The lessons teach skills and develop understandings that will support student success in middle school, high school, and postsecondary settings. Students gain experience setting goals, measuring progress, making choices that support their goals, and responding to adversity.

Success Bound explicitly teaches students to self-monitor their progress toward their goals as well as how to advocate for themselves to get the support they need. 

Students use “On Track” to monitor and understand the importance of grades and attendance. They also learn how to look ahead to build a plan for success and identify key people and resources to help them be successful. They make the connection between their current grades and attendance to their future goals, and they explore how to be on-track with their future goals so they understand how their choices today impact their future success. Students learn how they are responsible for themselves and their actions in terms of postsecondary planning and goal setting.

Students learn and practice self-monitoring and management skills by checking if they are on track to reach their goals each month. Students complete a “self-monitoring reflection” protocol in which they review their attendance and grades for the month and respond to the following prompts: 

  1. What impact do you think your attendance has on your grades?
  2. Identify 2 challenges that affected your attendance and grades.
  3. Identify 2 strengths that will help move you closer to your goals. 
  4. Based on my current attendance rate, in the next month, I am going to…
  5. Based on my current grades, in the next month, I am going to…
  6. Which class is your closest lowest grade? Write 2 steps you will take to raise your grade.
  7. Who can help you meet the goals you listed above? When will you talk to this person? 

Students also reflect on their strengths and areas of growth to monitor their progress in behaviors and action as well as social-emotional skills.

Success Bound is preparing students for high school, and for college and beyond. To achieve this, Success Bound provides students with opportunities for both postsecondary exploration and self-exploration, which in combination helps students figure out a path connecting their interests, goals, and priorities.

Starting in 6th grade, students explore postsecondary options by researching different careers and envisioning what their future might look like in those fields, considering average salary and lifestyle. They also engage in self-exploration to understand their strengths and values to make informed and aligned decisions. In 7th grade, students dig deeper into postsecondary visioning by designing their dream job to identify what matters most to them. They also further research their careers of interest and explore different pathways to get there, including how to prepare and what they should study. In 8th grade, students focus on college, including exploring majors and application and admissions data. Students better understand themselves to make a postsecondary plan from a college major to a career of interest. They also practice and build resilience by learning about potential obstacles and by developing problem-solving and building skills to overcome them. 

Along with lessons focused on college and career exploration, Success Bound encourages additional postsecondary exposure activities to foster a college-going culture such as college visits, college fairs, career fairs, and career exploration outings. They even provide a college visit planning toolkit.

Regardless of whether students have a school choice system, starting high school is a significant change, and Success Bound helps students prepare for a successful transition. Success Bound helps students “unlock” high school success by helping students understand high school elements from transcripts and graduation requirements to opening a locker with a spin dial lock.

In districts with a school choice system, students will learn how to navigate high school options to find the right school for them. Students will learn about the admission process in their district, research school options (including eligibility criteria where applicable), and evaluate each option based on fit and match so they can select and apply to their top high school choice. 

If students already know where they are going to high school, they will research the school, including course offerings and extracurriculars, to both build excitement for high school and to determine how the school offerings can help them work toward their goals. 

In addition to lessons focused on high school awareness and selection, Success Bound encourages further exposure to support in transition such as a high school fair. They even provide student-facing materials to prepare for the high school fair.

Supporting Structures

The model can be integrated into a school’s existing overall model but will require some shifts to the physical space, adult roles, and daily schedules, as well as investments in technology.

Success Bound provides a structured curriculum but allows for school-level customization.

Success Bound curriculum includes a scope and sequence, unit introductions, and standards-aligned content for 6th, 7th, and 8th grade classrooms. Each year consists of five units with 30 lessons, each 45–60 minutes in length. Each lesson includes a “do now” introductory activity, a core task, and a closing task, including an exit ticket to check for understanding. The three-part format is consistent across units and across grades. Each lesson is built around a focus prompt, which students respond to individually and in groups. Each lesson includes suggested protocols for eliciting and sharing responses to the core prompt, but schools implementing the curriculum are free to modify or replace these protocols. Sample 6th Grade Lesson Sample 7th Grade Lesson Sample 8th Grade Lesson

Schools must foster a culture of college and career readiness driven by data.

Postsecondary planning and exposure should be a key part of the school culture. This is enabled by all staff believing in the potential of all students and holding them to high expectations. 

The model requires a data-focused culture in which student data is readily accessible and is reviewed regularly. For this data to be accurate and meaningful, there must be expectations in place around grading and attendance procedures. These expectations are universally and consistently followed because all staff believe and understand the importance of student data as a key to changing outcomes.

Success Bound coordinators (often counselors) must have protected capacity to lead program implementation. 

Although Success Bound lessons are taught by teachers, school counselors often coordinate the day-to-day implementation of the model. They are more likely to be successful when they do not hold a high number of additional responsibilities or roles (e.g., testing coordinator), as school counselors often do. In addition, the student-to-counselor ratio must allow for quality engagement with the program—Success Bound is aligned to the ASCA recommendations of 250 to 1. Counselors should also have the support of school leadership and have opportunities to collaborate with teachers and other school staff. 

Teachers not facilitating Success Bound lessons should also be made aware of new skills being addressed in lessons, as consistency of expectations throughout a school community improves student outcomes.

Student schedules must have dedicated time for Success Bound weekly lessons.

Success Bound lessons are 45–60 minutes and are delivered once per week, beginning in 6th grade and continuing through the end of the 8th grade year. The weekly lesson should be led by teachers and supported by school counselors. 

Success Bound also provides schools with a pacing guide to help them decide whether to adjust the pace of instruction.

Parents and guardians are critical partners for student success when implementing Success Bound.

Success Bound recognizes parents and guardians as critical partners for student success. Success Bound encourages schools to proactively engage parents through workshops, newsletters, and lesson activities that promote follow-up student-parent conversations. 

To support parent engagement, Success Bound created five parent workshop presentations on aligned topics that schools can adapt and share with their families:  

  1. On-Track: An overview of what it means to be “on-track” in middle school and how it can impact student success in high school. 
  2. High School Exploration: An overview of the high school exploration process with suggestions and tools parents can use to start exploring high schools with their student(s). 
  3. Applying to High School: An overview of the high school application process for students in 6th–8th grades. 
  4. Middle Grades Postsecondary Planning: An overview of how schools support postsecondary exposure at the middle school level. 
  5. Adolescent Development: An overview of the science behind adolescent development. 

The goal of these workshops is to provide parents general information about transitioning to high school and beyond, the importance of grades and attendance, and the science of adolescent development so that parents can be active partners in each student’s success.

While technology is not required, all Success Bound lesson materials can be saved and integrated into Google Classroom.

All student-facing documents, worksheets, and slides are in the Google Suite, which makes them easy to add to Google Classroom, save to Google Drive, or print as needed.

Success Bound suggests schools allocate funding for postsecondary exposure activities.

Although access to curriculum, materials, and training are all free, Success Bound suggests schools invest in postsecondary exposure activities such as college visits, college fairs, career fairs, and career exploration outings.

Success Bounds’ implementation workbook can support continuous improvement.

Success Bound provides all schools with an implementation workbook, as a tool for schools to reflect on their work quarterly. The workbook also contains a growth scale (from introductory, developing, establish, to “established plus”) for schools to monitor their implementation progress.

Success Bound provides a structured curriculum but allows for school-level customization.

Success Bound curriculum includes a scope and sequence, unit introductions, and standards-aligned content for 6th, 7th, and 8th grade classrooms. Each year consists of five units with 30 lessons, each 45–60 minutes in length. Each lesson includes a “do now” introductory activity, a core task, and a closing task, including an exit ticket to check for understanding. The three-part format is consistent across units and across grades. Each lesson is built around a focus prompt, which students respond to individually and in groups. Each lesson includes suggested protocols for eliciting and sharing responses to the core prompt, but schools implementing the curriculum are free to modify or replace these protocols. Sample 6th Grade Lesson Sample 7th Grade Lesson Sample 8th Grade Lesson

Schools must foster a culture of college and career readiness driven by data.

Postsecondary planning and exposure should be a key part of the school culture. This is enabled by all staff believing in the potential of all students and holding them to high expectations. 

The model requires a data-focused culture in which student data is readily accessible and is reviewed regularly. For this data to be accurate and meaningful, there must be expectations in place around grading and attendance procedures. These expectations are universally and consistently followed because all staff believe and understand the importance of student data as a key to changing outcomes.

Success Bound coordinators (often counselors) must have protected capacity to lead program implementation. 

Although Success Bound lessons are taught by teachers, school counselors often coordinate the day-to-day implementation of the model. They are more likely to be successful when they do not hold a high number of additional responsibilities or roles (e.g., testing coordinator), as school counselors often do. In addition, the student-to-counselor ratio must allow for quality engagement with the program—Success Bound is aligned to the ASCA recommendations of 250 to 1. Counselors should also have the support of school leadership and have opportunities to collaborate with teachers and other school staff. 

Teachers not facilitating Success Bound lessons should also be made aware of new skills being addressed in lessons, as consistency of expectations throughout a school community improves student outcomes.

Student schedules must have dedicated time for Success Bound weekly lessons.

Success Bound lessons are 45–60 minutes and are delivered once per week, beginning in 6th grade and continuing through the end of the 8th grade year. The weekly lesson should be led by teachers and supported by school counselors. 

Success Bound also provides schools with a pacing guide to help them decide whether to adjust the pace of instruction.

Parents and guardians are critical partners for student success when implementing Success Bound.

Success Bound recognizes parents and guardians as critical partners for student success. Success Bound encourages schools to proactively engage parents through workshops, newsletters, and lesson activities that promote follow-up student-parent conversations. 

To support parent engagement, Success Bound created five parent workshop presentations on aligned topics that schools can adapt and share with their families:  

  1. On-Track: An overview of what it means to be “on-track” in middle school and how it can impact student success in high school. 
  2. High School Exploration: An overview of the high school exploration process with suggestions and tools parents can use to start exploring high schools with their student(s). 
  3. Applying to High School: An overview of the high school application process for students in 6th–8th grades. 
  4. Middle Grades Postsecondary Planning: An overview of how schools support postsecondary exposure at the middle school level. 
  5. Adolescent Development: An overview of the science behind adolescent development. 

The goal of these workshops is to provide parents general information about transitioning to high school and beyond, the importance of grades and attendance, and the science of adolescent development so that parents can be active partners in each student’s success.

While technology is not required, all Success Bound lesson materials can be saved and integrated into Google Classroom.

All student-facing documents, worksheets, and slides are in the Google Suite, which makes them easy to add to Google Classroom, save to Google Drive, or print as needed.

Success Bound suggests schools allocate funding for postsecondary exposure activities.

Although access to curriculum, materials, and training are all free, Success Bound suggests schools invest in postsecondary exposure activities such as college visits, college fairs, career fairs, and career exploration outings.

Success Bounds’ implementation workbook can support continuous improvement.

Success Bound provides all schools with an implementation workbook, as a tool for schools to reflect on their work quarterly. The workbook also contains a growth scale (from introductory, developing, establish, to “established plus”) for schools to monitor their implementation progress.

Supports Offered

Success Bound offers the following supports to help you implement their model.

All schools who agree to implement the model with fidelity and sign the Success Bound Pledge can access more free resources & support. Success Bound Pledge

Online Portal
Free

Schools can access curricula, supplemental resources, and key documents all in one place. The free online portal provides access to: 

  • Curriculum: 45-minute weekly curriculum for 6th–8th grade.
  • Implementation Workbook: A tool to support Success Bound coordinators with planning and implementation.
  • Basic Trainings: Video training for the Success Bound coordinator and other supporting staff.
Partner
Free

Schools that sign the Success Bound pledge, agreeing to implement the model consistently, receive access to all the above and more for free including: 

  • Supplemental toolkits and materials: Including lessons for 3rd–5th grade, pacing guide, classroom observation guide, project-based learning guide, parent workshop toolkit, and more.
  • Additional training: Specific training topics and resources as they are created.
  • Access to Support: Access to office hours and a helpline for additional support.
District/Network Supports
Free

Success Bound offers a train-the-coach model to school districts and networks of schools interested in implementing the model. Success Bound works with individuals in the district/network to implement all elements of the program including continuous improvement cycles. Districts/network partners receive access to all the above and more for free, including flexible coaching support based on needs, such as yearly training-of-trainers, training guides, group and individual school coaching, and more.

Reach

200
Schools
25000
Students
27
States
850
Monthly Users

Impact

Independent research found that the implementation of Success Bound impacted student knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors as well as the school culture. American Institutes for Research, 2020

  • Students take ownership of their education 
  • Students know how to apply for high school 
  • Students can identify pathways to postsecondary success
  • Students demonstrate improved social and emotional skills
  • Schools have a culture of high school, college, and career readiness 
  • Schools focus on data

Contact

Rachel Graham
Director of Programs