BOSTON, MA: 2.26.2018 — The Boston Public Schools’ high school graduation rate reached a historic high in 2017, continuing its decade-long rise that has produced a nearly 15 percentage-point increase in the number of students earning a diploma in four years, according to data released today by the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.
The district’s 4-year graduation rate for the 2016-17 school year climbed to 72.7 percent, which represents a .3 percentage-point increase over the previous year and a 14.8 point increase since the 2006-2007 school year.
While the statewide graduation rate has increased over the past ten years, the BPS graduation rate has risen at a faster pace, helping the district close the gap with the state average by more than one third. That gap, which stood at 23 percentage points in 2007, narrowed to 15.6 percentage points by 2017, dropping 7.5 points in ten years.
“I am proud that we are continuing to make great strides in ensuring that more students than ever are graduating from our high schools,” said Mayor Martin J. Walsh. “It is critical that every student who enters the Boston Public Schools leaves prepared to succeed in college, career and life, and a high school diploma is the catalyst for that. That is why as a city we are so committed to making sure our students are given the greatest opportunity to excel in school.”
BPS also significantly increased the graduation rate of students who earned a diploma within five years. Altogether, 78.4 percent of all students who entered high school as freshmen in 2012 graduated within 5 years of entering high school, up from 76 percent the year before. This means that an additional 251 students, after receiving an extra year of high school, received diplomas in 2017 .
In addition to improving the graduation rate, BPS has made considerable gains in reducing its annual dropout rate, which fell districtwide by nearly 1 percentage point from 2016 to 2017. The dropout rate also declined for all major racial subgroups: from 4.9 percent to 4.1 percent for Black students; from 3.8 percent to 2.5 percent for White students; from 1.2 percent to 0.7 percent for Asian students; and from 5.0 percent to 4.2 percent for Latino students.
Overall, BPS has cut the dropout rate in half over the past ten years, lowering it from 7.9 percent in 2007 to 3.6 percent in 2017.
Boston School Committee Chairperson Michael Loconto said the district’s continued improvement in lowering its dropout rate plays an integral part in increasing graduation rates.
“Keeping at-risk students engaged and in school is vital to ensuring they remain on a path to graduate,” he said. “Targeted measures, such as individualized learning and career pathways, can make their education seem more relevant and inspire our students to work harder and dream bigger. It’s great to see these efforts are having a real impact.”
BPS’ efforts aimed at improving the academic outcomes of its most marginalized students have, in particular, yielded significant gains among the district’s Latino students. The four-year graduation rate for Latino students in 2017 improved by 2 percent over the 2016 rate and by 18 percentage points from ten years ago, rising from 51 percent in 2007 to 69 percent in 2017.
“We’ve made it our mission to close opportunity and achievement gaps so that every student, in every classroom, in every BPS school can have the best possible shot at success,” BPS Superintendent Tommy Chang said. “It is imperative that we not only ensure our students earn a high-school diploma but we teach them the skills that will help them conquer college and compete for the high-skilled jobs in today’s global economy.”
Four BPS high schools have not only achieved one-year gains from 2015-16 to 2016-17 that exceed the district average, but they also show greater long-term gains since the 2006-07 school year than the district as a whole.
- East Boston High School continued to make impressive gains with a 7 percentage-point increase in its four-year graduation rate, from 67.7 percent in 2016 to 74.7 percent in 2017. The school’s rate has risen by 27.1 percentage points over the past decade, climbing from 47.6 percent in 2007.
- Snowden International School demonstrated a 9.3 percentage point increase, rising from 70.7 percent in 2016 to 80.0 percent in 2017. The school’s rate has risen by 20 points over the past decade, increasing from 60.4 percent in 2006-07.
- TechBoston Academy saw a 4.5 percentage point gain, rising from 84.3 percent in 2016 to 88.8 percent in 2017. The school’s rate has risen by nearly 26 points over the past decade, climbing from 63.1 in 2007.
- Jeremiah E. Burke High School continued to improve its graduation rate, which increased from 74.0 percent in 2016 to 76.9 percent in 2017. The school’s rate has shot up by nearly 45 points over the past ten years, soaring from 32.3 percent in 2007.
East Boston High School Headmaster Phillip Brangiforte credits several key programs — a credit recovery class, “Twilight School” and summer school at East Boston High — that the school has launched in recent years with helping students behind in credit get back on track and reach their goal of earning a high school diploma. East Boston High School has the highest percentage of English learners among any public 9-12th-grade high school in the state.
“We have been able to take away barriers for our students that once existed regarding access to district programs offered across the city,” Brangiforte said. “I am extremely proud of my staff and students for all their hard work. We are truly a family, and everyone understands the importance to prepare students for college and career readiness. We place a strong emphasis on receiving a high school diploma and that’s been paying off.”
Burke High School Headmaster Lindsa McIntyre said her school ensures that each student receives the benefits of personalized instruction and differentiated and targeted interventions, as well as access to social-emotional supports, to help them develop into their best self.
“Our school exemplifies a diverse community of faculty, staff, parents, and community and business partners who work together to provide our students learning experiences that foster critical-thinking and problem-solving skills they can use in their everyday lives,” she said. “We believe that 21st-century learning opportunities reside as much in the heart as they do in the mind.”