Future Ready News

Improving Graduation and Dropout Rates Statewide

Over the past five years, we have seen strong improvement in graduation rates and dropout rates across Massachusetts: the 4-year graduation rate is at an all-time high of 87.5%, the 5-year graduation rate is 89.4%,and the dropout rate is 1.9%.  And while there is much to celebrate, this also means that 5,523 students across the state dropped out of school in 2016. To continue improving our graduation rate, we must address the issues that cause students to disengage and leave school. CCTE offers districts technical assistance, professional development, networking opportunities – and some funding – to create, re-build, and expand options for students. Lisa Harney, ESE’s Dropout Prevention and Re-engagement Specialist in the Office for College, Career and Technical Education, explains the major projects.


Dropout Prevention and Re-engagement (DPR) Work Group

This group offers twice-yearly gatherings to all districts.  Themes for the gatherings are informed by discussions with a DPR Guiding Coalition and district leaders sharing their challenges and struggles so that we may offer timely and actionable information to support student success.  Gatherings include expert testimony on the theme; structured opportunities to learn about successful strategies; and a facilitated time for district teams to consult with one another. Afternoon sessions are for learning about the myriad tools the Department has available for data exploration, with staff providing 1:1 support as teams dig into their data. This fall the DPR Gathering was on Friday October 27, 2017, and the theme was Rethinking Education Options. Join us this spring!


Alternative Education

Quality Alternative Education programs provide innovative, non-traditional approaches to teaching and learning for students who, for a variety of reasons, are not benefiting from the traditional school structure. These programs and schools provide an educational environment that is safe and caring, with a positive rather than punitive atmosphere for behavioral management and discipline.  Other hallmarks of alternative education include small class sizes; low student -to-staff ratios; intensive behavioral, social and emotional supports; individualized instruction and remediation; and schedule flexibility. Relationships between students and staff are personal, respectful and encourage academic, behavioral and social success.


America’s Promise:

This small grant opportunity is focused on improving high school graduation rates and postsecondary readiness for students whose First Language is not English (FLNE). This group includes English Language Learner (ELL) and former ELL students, immigrant students and Students with Limited or Interrupted Formal Education (SLIFE).  Ten districts are in their third year of a three year grant; they have identified a need and developed a plan to address the need, and are now implementing plans that serve FLNE students. The learning from these districts and their experiences with FLNE students will be shared in the spring of 2018.


Researched-Based Promising Practices

The myriad needs of youth at risk of not completing high school are challenging.  Districts have found success improving graduation and dropout rates through a variety of proven research-based strategies and promising practices including: creating alternative pathways, providing adult advocates such as coaches, mentors, tutors, etc., expanding learning time e.g., after school or summer transition programs, providing opportunities for contextual learning, providing social emotional support, and/or implementing the My Career and Academic Plan (MyCAP).

My Career and Academic Plan (MyCAP)
The My Career and Academic Plan (MyCAP) is a student-directed, multi-year planning tool that helps students connect what they do now to their future plans. The MyCAP maps academic plans, personal, social & emotional learning, and career development activities, and also takes into account the student's unique interests, needs, and goals for post-secondary success. MyCAPs  are an integral part of the High Quality College and Career Pathways; they will be braided with career advising to provide student unique planning that is personal, attainable and focused on their postsecondary success. Research from NCWD/Youth shows that MyCAPs  may be a complementary tool for Transition Planning for students with IEPs.

This post was porduced by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, a collaborative partner of Future Ready Massachusetts.