Return to Headlines

Boston Public Schools’ high school graduation rate continues historic climb

Record-setting percentage of graduates represents 13-point gain since 2006

BOSTON — Tuesday, February 28, 2017 — The high school graduation rate for students in the Boston Public Schools (BPS) continued its decade-long improvement in 2016 with a record-setting 72.4 percent of students receiving a diploma in four years, according to data released today by the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

Photo of students in their caps and gowns at Summer 2016 Graduation
The historic increase, up 1.7 percent from 2015, highlights an upward trajectory in graduation rates for the district since 2006 when the rate was just over 59 percent.

"All of our students and staff should be proud of the exceptional teaching and learning that occurs every day in the Boston Public Schools."
- Superintendent Tommy Chang

"We recognize we have a lot more work to do to increase graduation rates in Boston, but this improvement demonstrates that our continued commitment to our students in Boston Public Schools is paying off and we're seeing results," said Mayor Martin J. Walsh. "I am extremely proud of our teachers, staff, and students for their tireless dedication toward academic achievement and building opportunities for the youth of Boston."

All major student subgroups experienced improvements or held relatively steady in their four-year graduation rates between the 2014-15 and 2015-16 school years. Some of the largest gains were experienced by students with disabilities, who demonstrated a 4.1 percent increase in one year. The gap between students with disabilities and all students has narrowed by 6.1 percentage points over the past decade.

"We should all celebrate that students in our most vulnerable populations continue to make strong gains," said Boston School Committee Chairperson Michael O'Neill. "These improvements speak to the district's larger efforts of providing individualized and innovative learning that keeps students engaged."

Five schools have not only demonstrated gains from 2014-15 to 2015-16 that exceed the district average, but they also show greater long-term gains since the 2005-06 school year than the district as a whole.

  • Community Academy of Science and Health (CASH) had an incredible 20.2 percent four-year graduation rate increase from 55.5 percent in 2015 to 75.7 percent in 2016. The 2006 graduation rate for the school was 61.3 percent.
  • Another Course to College had a graduation rate of 96.2 percent in 2016 and 93.2 percent in 2015; compared to 58.1 percent in 2006.
  • Jeremiah E. Burke High School had a graduation rate of 74 percent in 2016 and 71.1 percent in 2015; compared to 43.5 percent in 2006.
  • Urban Science Academy had a graduation rate of 70 percent in 2016 and 60.3 percent in 2015; compared to 44.4 percent in 2006.
  • East Boston High School had a graduation rate of 67.7 percent in 2016 and 64.1 percent in 2015; compared to 49.7 percent in 2006.

Tanya Freeman-Wisdom, the headmaster of CASH from 2010-2016, and who is now the headmaster of the John D. O'Bryant School for Mathematics and Science, said grant-funded academic coaching for students at risk of dropping out, along with increased family engagement and dual-enrollment programs at area colleges, including a Harvard Medical School science program, had a clear impact on student outcomes.

"Improving our school culture, increasing personalized learning, and providing early access to college gave our students the tools and motivation to succeed academically," Freeman-Wisdom said.

Other schools with notable successes include New Mission High School, which had a 98.7 percent graduation rate in 2016, compared to 57.6 percent in 2006. Boston Community Leadership Academy (BCLA) improved its rate from 70.9 percent in 2006 to 89.3 percent in 2016.

Boston's three public exam schools continue to be models for the district, with graduation rates above 95 percent for Boston Latin School, Boston Latin Academy, and the O'Bryant School for Mathematics and Science.

Among the four major racial subgroups, the graduation rate for White students increased by 6.7 percentage points to 82.5 percent. For Hispanic students, it increased by 2.8 points to 67.1 percent. For Asian students, it increased by 2.1 points to 88.2 percent. For Black students, it declined 0.3 points to 69.3 percent, remaining relatively stagnant.

"All of our students and staff should be proud of the exceptional teaching and learning that occurs every day in the Boston Public Schools," said BPS Superintendent Tommy Chang. "We should all honor the amazing progress in graduation rates over the past few years while simultaneously recognizing that much work remains in closing opportunity and achievement gaps."

Regarding drop-out rates, BPS experienced a slight increase from 4.4 percent in 2014-15 to 4.5 percent in 2015-16. The drop-out rate has ranged from 3.8 percent to 4.5 percent over the past four years, which is down from a high of 9.4 percent in 2005-06.