During school year 2005-2006, 1,936 students left the Boston Public Schools (BPS) without a diploma. During the 2013-2014 school year, that number fell to 701, resulting in the lowest dropout rate in BPS history.
Now, the challenge is to reduce the dropout rate even further, while reaching out to BPS graduates who are not connected to the labor market or postsecondary education. The PIC organizes two collaborations in pursuit of these objectives—the Youth Transitions Task Force and the Opportunity Youth Collaborative.
In 2004, the Youth Transition Task Force was convened in order to lower the high school dropout rate. An early pilot dropout outreach initiative evolved into the Re-Engagement Center in 2009—a BPS-PIC partnership—that enrolls hundreds of dropouts annually, connecting them with appropriate school placements, both within the BPS and at nonprofit organizations. By 2016, the REC has brought over 2,500 students back to school.
In 2013, the PIC and Boston Opportunity Agenda co-convened the Boston Opportunity Youth Collaborative (OYC). The OYC has expanded the re-engagement agenda to include disconnected high school graduates. It is part of a national network of communities developing strategies for engaging opportunity youth—16-24-year-olds who are out of school and out of work.
Brandon Siah is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in health information technology at Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology. Just one year ago, Brandon was ready to give up on his high school education. He had been informed by mail that he could not return to Dorchester Academy. The school was changing its structure and mission and dozens of students needed placements at other alternative schools and programs.
A staff member from the BPS-PIC Re-Engagement Center (REC) reached out to Brandon to set up a meeting to review his options. During the conversation, REC staff determined that Brandon was actually just the type of student that Dorchester Academy was shifting its focus to serve. He had passed MCAS and was only a few credits shy of graduation. The REC cleared up the administrative issues, and Brandon returned to Dorchester Academy and earned his high school diploma. Brandon aspires to become a health information technology professional after completing his degree.
Simultaneously, the REC team rallied in support of those students who were informed they could not return. After extensive outreach, almost all of these students visited the REC for assessment and referral. Many were re-admitted to Dorchester Academy, and the remaining students were referred to other alternative programs.Read Less>