Boston was one of the first cities in the nation to complement dropout prevention with dropout recovery — reaching out to students who had left school and helping them to return and graduate. The joint dropout outreach initiative of the Boston Public Schools (BPS) and the Boston Private Industry Council (PIC) founded the Re-Engagement Center in April 2009. The Re-Engagement Center has been an integral component in the historic dropout reduction achieved by Boston in the last several years.
The Re-Engagement Center (REC) is part of the district’s innovative response to the dropout crisis and is the only BPS program that specifically targets dropouts. The REC provides one central location in a caring environment for students to access the resources and counseling that they need to re-enroll in school and get back on track to graduation. In three years of operation, the REC has served more than 2,475 young people in Boston. The REC has found that dropouts want to come back to school and can succeed, given the right support. In the last three school years alone:
REC staff reaches out to students who have recently dropped out every year with both letters and calls. The re-engagement process begins with a conversation. Each student has a chance to tell his or her story. Staff members work closely with students, discussing available educational options, helping each student enroll in the right BPS high school or alternative program, and developing a customized path to graduation. Once students are out of the REC and attending their school placement, staff continues to monitor and support them to ensure that they remain on track to graduation.
- 1,595 students who had dropped out re-enrolled in the BPS through the REC.
- 67% of returning dropouts finished out the school year in their placement.
- As of August 2013, 451 of these re-enrolled dropouts had earned their BPS diploma.
The Re-Engagement Center allows returning students to begin earning credits as soon as possible. While waiting for assignment to a school, students participate in the Credit/Skills Recovery program under the supervision of a REC teacher. In school year 2012-2013:
The majority of the 956 students who started online classes in the last three school years are still enrolled or have graduated. These results have come through the work of a single teacher at the REC.
- 473 students took courses in the APEX online platform, and 174 students completed courses;
- 41 students earned enough credits to graduate within a year of re-enrolling.
Currently, the Center is staffed by a BPS director, a student support coordinator, a teacher, and three PIC dropout recovery specialists. All work directly with hundreds of students each year. Cities around the country look to Boston’s Re-Engagement Center as a national model for dropout recovery efforts, as outlined in the attached articles from national publications and research institutions. They are inspired by the BPS’s efforts to honor its commitment to students by giving a second chance to those who missed the first time.
What students and parents say about the Re-Engagement Center:
"It’s a great place to be… It helps me to do my work and get back on track to graduate, and the staff are very helpful.”
— Sanjay Campbell, student
"The center opened doors for my child that I thought were closed. I was beginning to feel hopeless about having a dropout under my roof.”
— Eneida Lopez, parent
"Attending the Re-Engagement Center was totally encouraging and supportive. This allowed me to commence again and achieve what I vacated in the past. It was all or nothing, clarity and redemption.”
— Jennifer Nguyen, student
"A great resource! The Re-Engagement Center has helped me get back into school and graduate, as well as connecting me with my postsecondary program. I have been so grateful to work with the REC.”
— Edilia Bernabe, high school graduate