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Student Support, Career & Education Services

Information for School Districts about Required Notices Regarding Students who Leave High School without Graduating

To:Superintendents and Leaders of Charter Schools
From:The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
Date:Updated June 2014 (Original version dated September 2006)

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The beginning of a new school year brings with it the need to review and reinforce the safety net of educational options and academic support opportunities across the Commonwealth. These opportunities are particularly important for students who are leaving or have left school without having met the Competency Determination required for high school graduation.

Our goal is for all of these young people to gain the knowledge and skills necessary to earn a high school diploma and be adequately prepared for higher education, rewarding employment, and responsible citizenship. As such, we are reminding you of a requirement intended to encourage former students to continue their education within their community or in academic support programs that are available at locations throughout the Commonwealth. Please bring this information to the attention of high school principals and guidance counselors. To help inform parents/guardians and students of these requirements as well, please also consider including this information in student handbooks, if it is not already there.

To help raise awareness about academic support options for students who have left school without having earned the Competency Determination for high school graduation, the following is a Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (Department) requirement, and has been since school year 2006-2007:

All Massachusetts public school districts serving students in high school grades must provide annual written notice to former students who have not yet earned their competency determinations, and who have not transferred to another school: (i) to inform them of the availability of publicly funded post-high school academic support programs, and (ii) to encourage them to participate in those programs. At a minimum, a district must send annual written notice by first class mail to the last known address of each such student who attended a high school in the district within the past two years.

The Department's Academic Support web pages include information about the entities that are funded to run academic support programs. In particular, the Pathways to Success pages may help you learn more about options available for students in your area. If you have questions, you may contact the Learning Support Services or College and Career Readiness Units via email (achievement@doe.mass.edu) or phone (781-338-3010).

Additionally, to help ensure student participation in academic support programs, districts are strongly encouraged to use multiple recruitment strategies that extend beyond the minimum notification requirement. These strategies may include, but are not limited to:

  • partnering with other local entities (such as community-based organizations) on efforts to reach students;
  • using students' Educational Proficiency Plans as a tool to help teachers and support programs better address students' academic support needs;
  • meeting with students throughout their years in high school, encouraging them to take advantage of support options;
  • reviewing existing school policies to ensure that they do not create barriers for reengaging students who have left the educational community; and
  • making multiple efforts to reach students, by phone, mail, and/or in person. These efforts reinforce the message that there are school and district staff that students can turn to for support and educational guidance.

Thank you for your attention to these important matters.



Last Updated: June 13, 2014
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