BPS graduation rate climbs for fourth consecutive year
Graduation and dropout rates released today by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) indicate for the fourth year in a row, the Boston Public Schools (BPS) graduation rate continues to climb while the annual dropout rate continues its downward trend. The four-year graduation rate is at the highest level since the state started keeping track.
Of the students who entered high school in the 2006/2007 school year, 63.2% graduated within four years. This 2010 data is an increase of 1.8 percentage points from 2009 and more than 5 percentage points since 2007. BPS calculates the dropout rate fell from 6.4% in 2009 to 5.7% in 2010.
“We are at a pivotal moment in time in our city where we have the momentum to make real, lasting change for our kids and their futures,” said Mayor Thomas M. Menino. “These graduation and dropout rates show we are headed in the right direction. I’m proud we are seeing more students graduate on time ready for college and career and we are committed to making sure nothing slows our progress.”
The BPS Acceleration Agenda, a five-year strategic plan for the district introduced in 2009, sets a graduation rate goal of at least 80% and an annual dropout rate of 3% or lower by 2014.
“We have high expectations for our students, and we continue to put initiatives in place to support them as they approach high school graduation,” said Superintendent Carol R. Johnson. “We are certainly pleased to see the district graduation rate climbing and the dropout rate lowering, but now the work gets even harder as we reach those students who have wondered if high school graduation was even possible. Many of these students will be the first in their families to earn a high school diploma. It’s our job to help them chart a new course.”
At the core of the Acceleration Agenda is a commitment to closing achievement gaps. The new data indicates Hispanic students saw a four-point jump in graduation rates – moving from 52.6% to 56.8%, the highest level ever. The graduation rate for Asian students improved from 78.8% to 81.6%. Black students’ four-year graduation rate remained virtually unchanged at 60.6%, even as tougher graduation requirements have been put into place. For the first time, graduating seniors in the Class of 2010 were required to pass a science MCAS exam before earning a diploma.
This data also outlines that of the high school seniors who did not graduate last year, 17.4% remained in school, a nearly two point increase over last year’s retention rate. BPS has invested in initiatives aimed at keeping off-track students in school even if they don’t meet all graduation requirements in their senior year. Last August, nearly 200 students took part in the city’s annual summer graduation. Most of the graduates had participated in credit recovery courses over the summer that made it possible for them to fulfill the graduation requirements.
In the coming weeks BPS will unveil a new initiative that will help 10th graders learn whether they are on-track to graduate. This tool will assist students understand how to adjust coursework, attendance patterns and study habits to make the most out of their education.
BPS continues to focus on supporting students on the verge of dropping out through various dropout prevention initiatives and partnerships, as well as credit recovery programs throughout the school district. BPS, in conjunction with Mayor Menino’s office is also looking at supporting students beyond high school graduation. In 2008, Mayor Menino launched Success Boston, an initiative aimed at dramatically increasing the number of BPS students completing college.
To maintain consistency, BPS continues to use the same methodology in calculating the dropout rate as it did when it began tracking the number in the early 1980’s. DESE calculates the BPS dropout rate as 6.8% while BPS calculates it as 5.7%.
For more information on the methodology and these rates please visit www.bostonpublicschools.org/reports