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For Immediate Release
Monday, January 27, 2014
Contact:JC Considine 781-338-3112

Patrick Administration Announces Four-Year Graduation Rate Improves for 7th Consecutive Year

MALDEN - The Patrick Administration and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education today announced that the state's four-year graduation rate improved for the seventh consecutive year, with 85% of students who entered as 9th graders in 2009-10, or transferred into that same cohort at any time over high school, graduating within four years. Since last year, gains made by Hispanic students, low income students, and English language learners have outpaced all other student groups. The state's annual dropout rate also declined to 2.2% in 2012-13, the fifth consecutive year below 3% and lowest overall rate in more than three decades.

"I commend our students, educators and parents for another year of great progress," said Governor Patrick. "Let's keep it going by investing in education because it is the single best way to prepare our young people for work and life."

According to this year's release of data, 85% of 74,537 students in the 2013 cohort graduated within four years, an increase of 0.3 percentage points from the 2012 cohort and an increase of 5.1 percentage points from the 2006 cohort, when the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education first began calculating the cohort graduation rate. 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.

"Today's news is a direct result of hard work by teachers, administrators and parents across the Commonwealth," said Education Secretary Matthew Malone. "A high school diploma is a necessity for anyone hoping to live the American dream. We must invest in what we know works to provide all students with the supports and resources they need to reach this goal."

The Patrick Administration has been working on a number of fronts to close achievement gaps and reduce the number of students dropping out of high school each year. Governor Patrick's FY 2015 budget recommendation released last week includes $204.9 million in increased education funding aimed at providing a world-class education to all students from the earliest ages through college. The Governor's budget proposes targeted investments to increase student achievement and support high need students, including $4.5 million to support expanded learning time for middle school students, $3.1 million in new funding for schools to adopt innovative approaches to improve student outcomes, and $1.25 million in additional funding or comprehensive supports to students and their families in Gateway Cities.

Last year's improvement in the state's annual dropout rate meant that 803 fewer students dropped out in 2012-13 than during the previous school year, and 5,188 fewer students dropped out than in 2006-07, when the annual dropout rate was at a high mark of 3.8%.

"The credit for the terrific rates of improvement we've experienced belongs to the educators who on a daily basis reach out to at-risk students to encourage them to stay in school and support their pathway to graduation," said Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Mitchell D. Chester. "Over the past five years our districts have identified students at increasingly younger ages who are at risk of not persisting to graduation – and have implemented supports and interventions to keep these students on track. The smart work of our schools is paying off for students and for the Commonwealth."

Statewide, more than 80% of students graduated in four years in 246 out of 291 school districts (84.5%, up from 82.1% in 2012, 79.9% in 2011, 79.2% in 2010, and 75.7% in 2009) and 286 out of 381 schools graduated more than 80% of their students in four years (75.1%, up from 70.6% in 2012, 69.5% in 2011, 68.8% in 2010, and 65% in 2009).

Most major subgroups improved their four-year graduation rates since last year. The largest gains were made by English language learners (+2.4 percentage points, from 61.1% for the 2012 cohort to 63.5% for the 2013 cohort), Hispanic students (+1.3, from 65.5 to 66.8%), and low income students (+1.2 percent, from 72.4 to 73.6%). Improvements for other major subgroups were: African American students (+0.4, from 73.4 to 73.8%), Asian students (+1.1, from 89.5 to 90.6%), white students (+0.4, from 89.7 to 90.1%), female students (+0.4, from 87.7 to 88.1%), and male students (+0.3, from 81.8 to 82.1%). Only students with disabilities declined slightly since last year (-0.8, from 68.6 to 67.8%).

In November 2010, the Commonwealth was awarded a five-year, $15 million federal grant through the federal High School Graduation Initiative to support statewide and local efforts for high school dropout prevention, intervention, and recovery. The Massachusetts initiative, called MassGrad, has supported districts and schools with the highest dropout rates through a multifaceted approach that includes a Dropout Prevention & Recovery Work Group open to all districts, as well as start-up funding to support a range of innovative programming to best meet the needs of students most likely to drop out, or to re-engage students that previously left school. That innovative programming has included graduation coaches, work and service-based learning opportunities, community coalitions, and high school pathways such as the Gateway to College early college model.

Over the past five years, the urban school districts that have made the largest gains in reducing the number of dropouts (2008-09 and 2012-13) included:

  • Boston had 339 fewer students drop out in 2012-13 than in 2008-09 (1.3 percentage point improvement, from 7.3% to 5.9%);
  • Springfield had 241 fewer students drop out in 2012-13 than in 2008-09 (3.1 percentage point improvement, from 9.6% to 6.5%);
  • Lawrence had 143 fewer students drop out in 2012-13 than in 2008-09 (4.4 percentage point improvement, from 10.2% to 5.8%);
  • Worcester had 125 fewer students drop out in 2012-13 than in 2008-09 (1.7 percentage point improvement, from 5.1% to 3.4%);
  • New Bedford had 106 fewer students drop out in 2012-13 than in 2008-09 (2.6 percentage point improvement, from 8.4% to 5.8%).

Through its Race to the Top initiative, the Commonwealth is developing an integrated suite of cutting-edge tools and resources to promote best practices in classroom instruction and assessment. The Department has launched Edwin, a new, comprehensive teaching and learning platform that will provide every public school educator in Massachusetts with a single entry point to access resources in teaching, learning, and analytics. Edwin Teaching and Learning will provide on-demand access to instructional resources, curriculum planning tools, model curriculum units, and a variety of assessments including curriculum embedded performance assessments.

Graduation rate data is online at and For additional information on the annual dropout rate, including school and districts numbers, look online at To learn more about Edwin, go to

Last Updated: January 27, 2014
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