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Dropout Rates Drop in Massachusetts

A new research brief, Meeting the Challenge: Promising Practices for Reducing the Dropout Rate in Massachusetts Schools and Districts (Rennie Center for Education Research and Policy, 2009), describes policies, programs, and practices 11 high schools in Massachusetts used to reduce their dropout rates.

To reduce dropout rates, the schools:

  1. Used data on attendance, school suspensions, and academic failure to identify students who were likely to drop out of school. 

  2. Developed targeted interventions to get students back on track to graduation.  These included adult and peer mentoring; smaller learning communities, especially freshman academies; student advisories where faculty monitor the progress of 10-15 students; and extra courses in core subjects during the school day, after school, and/or during the summer.

  3. Asked school counselors and school psychologists to help students who were struggling with emotional, psychological, and behavioral issues.

  4. Offered students alternative high school models that provided course recovery along with job experience, evening schools, and career and skills training.

  5. Strengthened the connection between high school and college and careers through internships and school-to-work programs and dual enrollment programs with local colleges.

  6. Established teams within the school to develop team- or faculty-wide approaches to reducing the dropout rate.

  7. Created partnerships with community agencies or organizations because the dropout challenge was bigger than the school alone could address. 

Learn more about the Rennie Center for Education Research and Policy.