May 01, 2018

Re-Engaging Those Who Have Fallen Behind

Over the last decade, the dropout rate for Boston Public Schools (BPS) students has decreased significantly, from 9.4% in 2006 to 3.6% in 2017, the lowest on record. During the 2016-17 school year, 660 students left school before graduating, a sharp decline from the 1,936 students who left during the 2005-06 school year. This decrease is attributable to many factors, among them the work of Boston’s Re-Engagement Center (REC), a partnership between the PIC and BPS.

The REC continues to reach out to young people who have left school or who are not on track to graduate, and reconnects them with high schools and alternative education programs. REC staff have conducted intakes with 740 young adults so far this program year. Of these, 312 were placed in a high school or program, 89 were placed in a HiSET or GED program, and 48 were referred to Adult Education programs.

Recently, the REC has undertaken new efforts to strengthen pathways for students. The REC convened a meeting with the BPS alternative education community to improve communication and coordination of REC referrals to alternative schools. Similarly, the REC has been collaborating with the BPS Special Education department to better support the re-enrollment process for students with Special Education codes, as well as enhancing its relationship with programs that provide high school equivalency preparation and occupational training for students whose needs or interests may not align with the portfolio of school-based options.

In addition to its work of connecting students with education pathways, the REC is hosting a career coach who is focused on helping 18-24-year-olds who have a high school credential connect with education, training and employment opportunities. This will allow the REC to provide additional support to re-engaged students who graduate and want to take the next step towards college or career.

REC Success

After learning that she was not on track to graduate on time, Daniqua met with REC staff to learn about alternative education options. She was disappointed to find out that none of the high school diploma options could help her graduate on time. When Jermaine, a re-engagement specialist at the REC, mentioned the HiSET (an exam that results in a high school equivalency credential (HSE)), Daniqua was initially against the idea. “My mom wants me to cross the stage. She wants to see me in my cap and gown--I don’t want an HSE,” she said. 

After multiple meetings at the REC, the staff was able to convince Daniqua to try the HiSET. “Jermaine showed me his high school transcript and it looked a lot like mine. He told me about how he went on to college after getting his GED, and that honestly helped me a lot,” said Daniqua. She took a placement test at X-Cel Education and scored so well that she did not need prep classes. X-Cel even offered to pay for her registration fees. One month later, Daniqua is proud to report that she passed the exam and is actively looking to enroll in college full time. Way to go, Daniqua!

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