Return to Headlines


Note: Full Accountability Results have been added to the District Accountability Results section.


BPS’ Re-Engagement Center and the Department of Opportunity Youth target drop-outs and chronically absent students to increase participation and learning in the classroom 


BOSTON – Boston Public Schools (BPS) Superintendent Mary Skipper today provided context and insights on the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) and accountability data released by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE). The data show that students in grades 3 through 8 and in the 10th grade have made progress since 2021 but are not yet back to pre-pandemic levels. It also indicates where more acceleration and support are needed.


Some strengths represented in the BPS data include some gains for students with disabilities and former English learners in some categories, including math. However, District leaders believe that more must be done to close the gaps within these results. Chronic student absenteeism last school year was a factor that likely contributed to these outcomes. At the direction of Superintendent Skipper, BPS is working to prioritize supporting students and families who experience chronic absenteeism.  


These results provide rich information that will help guide us as we continue to support students and schools in making up for time lost during the past two years of the pandemic,” said Superintendent Skipper. “Despite last year being a difficult year for our students and staff, our staff is working tirelessly and the hard truth is we have a lot of room for improvement. We will use this information to better understand practices that are working and make changes where we need to see greater improvement. We will treat this as an opportunity to grow and work even harder to ensure that we are meeting the needs of all students in our district. We have to keep our focus on closing not only the gaps created by the pandemic but also the persistent gaps for our most marginalized students: our black and brown, special education, economically disadvantaged, and English Language Learning students.” 


One example of BPS’ work to eliminate the education gap is the Re-Engagement Center (REC), which targets young people who have dropped out of high school by offering them resources and counseling and the support they need to re-enroll in school and ultimately graduate. In early September, the REC was joined by the Department of Opportunity Youth and the Boston PIC in a door-knocking campaign to re-engage students who were chronically absent last year or who dropped out. 


“While it is encouraging to see some of our students regain ground lost due to the pandemic, this also serves as a reminder of the urgent work before us,” said Mayor Michelle Wu. “Our school leaders and city teams will use this data to help inform a path forward for BPS that nurtures student growth and achievement.”


Over this past summer, BPS conducted multiple door-knocking efforts, culminating in a group of 34 volunteers who canvassed the homes of students who dropped out and were chronically absent. These door-knocking efforts proved successful, with volunteers and staff reaching hundreds of students. As a part of the REC’s efforts year-round, BPS has placed more than 100 students and counting back in school for the 2022-2023 school year. Thanks to the hard work of the REC, along with other District efforts, dropout rates have continued to fall. In 2021, BPS’ dropout rate was 3.9%, compared to 5.4% in 2018. This constitutes a significant decline in students dropping out of Boston Public Schools. Last year, BPS’ chronic absenteeism rate was 42.2%, which is considered high compared to past years on account of the pandemic. 


“MCAS results are one important way to measure how we are supporting our students, families, and schools,” said Boston School Committee Chairperson Jeri Robinson. “I am glad to see progress in key areas and among key groups of students and I am hopeful this data will help drive our decision making going forward to better match needs and resources across the district.” 

Currently, the Department of Opportunity Youth’s efforts to address chronic absenteeism include a dedicated focus on transformation schools and schools with attendance rates below 80%. Supervisors of attendance (SOAs) are organized by region to fully integrate into and to directly support schools, working with regional school superintendents to support the Quality School Plan (QSP), which includes the following:

  • Prioritizing a needs-based assessment that factors in achievement data

  • Setting instructional goals and strategies

  • Utilizing school reform strategies

  • Implementing student support strategies to help struggling learners

  • Including parents in their children’s learning

  • Offering professional development for teachers

  • Ensuring schools can make the best use of all its resources

  • Using student test score information to improve teaching

  • Identifying what type of support is best for students, including reviewing the school’s budget and grants

  • Considering the school’s plan for wellness efforts called the Wellness Action Plan.

“The impact of the pandemic can be seen in declining test scores across the state. In this context, it is remarkable that Boston students experienced less test score decline on most measures as compared to statewide averages, suburbs included,” commented Neil Sullivan Executive Director of the Boston Private Industry Council. “This is due to the heroic efforts of Boston teachers and school leaders in the face of the unprecedented challenges they have faced over the past few years, as well as Boston’s persistent focus on school attendance and dropout prevention.”


BPS is also awarding 30+ Attendance Mini-Grants to schools using federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funding. As part of the grant application, schools must submit a plan to address chronic absenteeism among priority student groups, while selecting from a range of established district tools and resources.


In addition, BPS revised its attendance policy to shift away from punitive practices to address truancy. The focus is now on student and family relationship-building, removing barriers and reducing chronic absenteeism as a means to truly reengage students in their education, as valued members of the school community. 


DESE administered MCAS in the spring of 2022 in grades 3-8 and 10 in ELA, Math, and Science, the first full administration of the assessment since 2019. Over 95% of students participated in MCAS testing, which is comparable to 2019 participation levels.




  • 2022 accountability percentiles:

    • 62 schools were above the bottom 10 percent.

    • 32 schools were in the bottom 10 percent.

    • 19 schools did not receive a 2022 accountability percentile.

  • When comparing 2019 and 2022 accountability percentiles:

    • Fifty-five schools remained above the bottom 10 percent

    • Three schools moved out of the bottom 10 percent

    • Four schools moved into the bottom 10 percent

    • Eight schools previously designated underperforming or chronically underperforming by the Commissioner remain in that designation. 

    • Two schools did not receive a percentile in 2019 and were above the bottom 10 percent in 2022.

    • Eighteen schools did not receive a percentile in 2019 or 2022. 

    • Four schools were closed at the end of SY21-22 -- of these schools, 3 were in the bottom 10 percent in both 2019 and 2022, and 1 school moved into the bottom 10 percent in 2022. 


Grades 3-8

English Language Arts (ELA) 

  • Twenty-nine percent (29%) of students met or exceeded expectations in grades 3-8 in ELA, a decrease of 6 percentage points from 2019, which is less than the statewide decline of 11 percentage points. The average scaled score in grades 3-8 ELA was 486.2, down 5.7 points from 2019. Growth for all students and all student groups was in the typical range. This data shown is consistent with state trends.


  • Twenty-four percent (24%) of students met or exceeded expectations in grades 3-8 in Math, a 9 percentage point decrease from 2019. However, there was a 4 percentage point increase from 2021, indicating students are regaining lost ground caused by the pandemic. This three year decrease is similar to the statewide decline of 10 percentage points since 2019. The average scaled score in grades 3-8 Math was 483.8, a decrease of 6.2 points from 2019 but an increase of 4.3 points from 2021. Growth for all students and all student groups was in the typical range for Math.


  • Twenty-two percent (22%) of students met or exceeded expectations in Science in grade 5. This represents a 2 point decrease since 2019 and a 2 point increase since 2021. For Grade 8 Science, twenty-three percent (23%) of students met or exceeded expectations which represents a 1 point decline since 2019 and a 7 percentage point increase since 2021. In the same time, the state’s percentage of students meeting or exceeding expectations decreased by 6 percentage points in grade 5 and 4 percentage points in grade 8 since 2019. For BPS, the average scaled score in grades 5 & 8 Science was 482.0, a decrease of 2.4 points since 2019 but an increase of 1.9 points from 2021.

10th Grade

English Language Arts (ELA) 

  • Forty-seven percent (47%) of students met or exceeded expectations in grades 10 ELA, an increase of 2 percentage points from 2019, which is an improvement compared to the statewide decline of three percentage points. However the average scaled score in grade 10 ELA dropped almost a full scaled score points (0.8) to 495.6 as compared to 2019 performance. Growth for all students and all student groups was generally in the typical range, with the exception of Former English Learners demonstrating high growth with an average SGP of about 60.


  • Forty percent (40%) of students met or exceeded expectations in grade 10 Mathematics, down 7 percentage points from 2019. The state decrease during this time point was 9 percentage points. The average scaled score in grade 10 Math was 495.1, down 3.3 scaled score points from 2019. Growth for all students and most student groups was in the typical range. White students, Asian students, and Former English Learners all demonstrated higher than typical growth in grade 10 Math with average SGPs for each group above 60. This underscores the need to accelerate growth for other student groups to meet expectations going forward.