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For Immediate Release
Friday, February 10, 2012
Contact:JC Considine 781-338-3112

4-Year Graduation Rate Climbs for 5th Straight Year

Annual dropout rate improves – Lowest in two decades

MALDEN - The Patrick-Murray Administration today announced that the state's four-year graduation rate improved for the fifth consecutive year in 2011, while the annual dropout rate dipped to the lowest level in two decades.

According to a statewide report released today, 83.4 percent of the 74,307 students in the 2011 cohort graduated within four years, an increase of 1.3 percentage points from 2010, 1.9 percentage points from 2009, 2.2 percentage points from 2008, 2.5 percentage points from 2007, and 3.5 percentage points from 2006. A cohort is comprised of students who entered high school as 9th graders or who transferred into the same cohort at any time over high school.

"We are committed to ensuring that all of our students graduate from high school prepared for higher education, the workforce, or both," said Governor Deval Patrick. "I am proud of the progress we have made, but we won't be satisfied until we have a system that closes the achievement gap and prepares all of our students for success."

The state's annual dropout rate also improved since last year, as 2.7 percent, or 7,894 out of 289,161 high school students in grades 9-12 dropped out of school during the 2010-2011 school year. This is the lowest dropout rate in two decades, and the third year in a row with a rate below 3 percent. The 2008-2009 and 2009-2010 rates were 2.9 percent.

"School districts are working hard to reach at-risk students. More and more students have the supports they need and motivation to stay in school and graduate on time," said Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Mitchell Chester. "In today's world, a high school diploma is a minimum requirement. Our goal is to provide all students with a high quality education that prepares them for college and careers."

"Our focus continues to be on helping all students reach higher and graduate with the knowledge and skills they need to keep growing and learning," said Education Secretary Paul Reville. "This improvement is an affirmation of our commitment to reaching at-risk students, but also a reminder there is more work ahead – more students that need our support in persisting through high school."

All subgroups, with the exception of limited English proficient (LEP) students, improved their four-year graduation rates since last year. In 2011, the four-year graduation rates rose by 2.2 percentage points for African American students (from 68.5 percent to 70.7), by 1.9 percentage points for low income students (from 67.9 to 69.8), by 1.6 percentage points for special education students (from 64 to 65.6), by 1.4 percentage points for white students (from 87.7 to 89.1), and by 0.8 percentage points for Hispanic students (from 61.1 to 61.9) and Asian students (from 86.9 to 87.7). The four-year graduation rate decreased for LEP students by 1.6 percentage points (from 57.8 to 56.2).

Through targeted initiatives, including After-school Enrichment Academies, recently proposed in Governor Deval Patrick's Gateway Cities Education Agenda, which will give middle and high school English language learners additional intensive and targeted language instruction, the Administration is working to close the gap between English language learners and their peers. Similarly, proposed Student Support Councils and High School Career Academies are designed to mitigate problems, traditionally associated with poverty, which can get in the way of students coming to school and being ready to learn; and to motivate students to persist through high school by creating multiple pathways to college and career, and giving students access to internships and other work-based learning opportunities earlier in their academic careers.

Additionally, in fall 2010, Massachusetts was one of only two states awarded a federal High School Graduation Initiative (HSGI) grant by the U.S. Department of Education. That five-year, $15 million grant (referred to locally as "MassGrad") is helping support state and local efforts around high school dropout prevention, intervention and recovery. Beginning in May 2011, a total of 47 Massachusetts schools from 27 districts received either a MassGrad Implementation Award or a Planning Award to employ research-based practices to increase their high school graduation rates. A number of these schools were able to capitalize on their funding right away, providing intensive summer programs to their most at-risk students.

A total of 29 schools, or 62 percent of those that received funding, showed an increase in their overall graduation rate from 2010 to 2011. In addition, a total of 27 schools, or 57 percent of funded schools, showed a decrease in their overall dropout rate.

The urban school districts that made the largest gains in reducing the number of dropouts between 2009-10 and 2010-11 included:

  • Boston had 75 fewer students drop out in 2010-11 than in 2009-10 (0.4 percentage point improvement, from 6.8 percent to 6.4 percent);
  • New Bedford had 39 fewer students drop out in 2010-11 than in 2009-10 (1.0 percentage point improvement, from 8.1 percent to 7.1 percent);
  • Lynn had 31 fewer students drop out in 2010-11 than in 2009-10 (0.8 percentage point improvement, from 5.4 percent to 4.6 percent);
  • Somerville had 26 fewer students drop out in 2010-11 than in 2009-10 (2.0 percentage point improvement, from 5.6 percent to 3.6 percent);
  • Malden had 19 fewer students drop out in 2010-11 than in 2009-10 (1.3 percentage point improvement, from 4.9 percent to 3.6 percent).

Boston, Lynn, Somerville and Malden were each MassGrad Award recipients.

Other findings in the Graduation Rate report include:

  • Statewide, more than 80 percent of students graduated in four years in 230 out of 288 school districts (79.9 percent; up from 79.2 percent in 2010 and 75.7 percent in 2009) and 257 out of 370 schools (69.5 percent; up from 68.8 percent in 2010 and 65 percent in 2009).
  • The five-year graduation rate for the 2011 cohort was 84.7 percent, up 0.7 percentage points from the 2010 five-year graduation rate and the highest five-year graduation rate since the Department began to calculate the rates in 2007.
  • Students who attended a single school throughout high school continue to graduate at much higher rates than more transient students. On average, 87.2 percent of students from the 2011 cohort who attending a single high school graduated in four years, higher than the comparable rates for students who attending two schools (67.8 percent), three schools (41.6 percent), and four or more schools (32.2 percent).
  • Among non-graduates in the 2011 cohort, 6.6 percent are still in school, 1 percent were non-graduating completers, 1.7 percent earned a GED, 7.2 percent dropped out, and 0.1 percent were expelled.
  • 58.6 percent of non-graduates who are still in school have earned their Competency Determination (CD).

Other findings in the Annual Dropout report include:

  • Statewide, 25.8 percent of all dropouts were 9th graders, 25.5 percent were 10th graders, 24 percent were 11th graders, and 24.7 percent were 12th graders.
  • 2.3 percent of female students and 3.2 percent of male students dropped out of high school during the 2010-11 school year.
  • 43 percent of all dropouts statewide were white, 36 percent were Hispanic, 15.5 percent were African American, 3.3 percent were Asian, 26.5 percent were students with disabilities, 12.4 percent were limited English proficient, and 56.4 percent were low income.
  • 68.8 percent of 12th graders who dropped out and 46.8 percent of 11th graders who dropped out during the 2010-11 school year had already earned their Competency Determination (had already met the MCAS graduation requirement).

For more information on the graduation rate, look online at and For additional information on the annual dropout rate, including school and districts numbers, look online at

Last Updated: February 10, 2012
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