Due to the COVID pandemic FAFSA completion across the nation and the Commonwealth is significantly lower this year as compared to previous years. The priority of this initiative is to increase the number of students completing FAFSA and attending college through the use of data to identify and support students and their families in completing FAFSA and the financial aid process.
Funding for high schools serving the highest number of economically disadvantaged student is available at FY2021: FAFSA Completion Opportunity Grant
Whittier Technical School has created three similar documents to share with students and families around FAFSA completion
In September 2020 DESE was awarded a five-year grant totaling $9,127,691 from the U.S. Education Department (ED), through the Expanding Access to Well-Rounded Courses Demonstration Grants Program. With this funding, and via a partnership with VHS Learning, we are establishing the STEM Advanced Placement Access Expansion Opportunity (SAPAO). SAPAO is a statewide initiative to increase the capacity of schools to offer advanced coursework that will equip students with the skills and competencies they need to pursue postsecondary education and, ultimately, go on to STEM professions vital to the Massachusetts economy.
At the heart of this project is a commitment to generate greater equity in STEM AP course-taking, which DESE prioritized by narrowing participation to schools with above average rates of Black, Latino, and/or Economically Disadvantaged student enrollment. Through the grant, DESE also intends to serve schools in which low numbers of students engage in STEM AP courses despite demonstrating the skills to participate in this advanced coursework. The highest priority schools are those DESE envisions using the statewide virtual platform to drive their long-term strategy to increase capacity to offer STEM AP courses. For more information please contact Jennifer Gwatkin or David Baird.
The Commonwealth has launched a High Quality College and Career Pathways initiative that will serve as an overarching strategy for significantly expanding student access to high-quality career pathways.
There are two new types of pathways for this effort: Early College and Innovation. While more specific sets of characteristics define each pathway, both are anchored in the five guiding principles defined in the Massachusetts Early College Designation - Preliminary Outline of Key Elements: equitable access, guided academic pathways, enhanced student support, connection to career, and effective partnerships.
Students in the class of 2010 and beyond now need to either reach proficiency, or demonstrate through an Educational Proficiency Plan (EPP) that they have taken steps to get there, before earning their Competency Determination (CD) required for high school graduation.
Alternative Education is an instructional approach under the control of a school committee that is offered to "at-risk" students in a nontraditional setting. "At-risk" students may include those who are pregnant/parenting teens, truant students, and suspended or expelled students, returned dropouts, delinquent youth, or other students who are not meeting local promotional requirements. A guide to frequently asked questions on alternative education is available.
The Office for Career/Vocational Technical Education administers Commonwealth of Massachusetts' General Law (M.G.L.) Chapter 74 governing vocational technical education programs in public school districts. The Office also administers the federal Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Improvement Act of 2006 P.L. 109-270 (Perkins IV), and the federal Guidelines for Eliminating Discrimination and Denial of Services on the Basis of Race, Color, National Origin, Sex, and Handicap in Vocational Education Programs 34 CFR, Part 100, Appendix B (Civil Rights Guidelines).
Dropout reduction and prevention involves Prevention, Intervention, and Recovery. The Department recognizes that dropout reduction is not about one single program or initiative. Dropout reduction is very complex and does not lend itself to easy or quick fixes. Effective dropout prevention, intervention, and recovery must be seen as an adaptable and ongoing process. Significantly reducing the number of students who drop out of school takes a combination of systemic efforts at the community, district, school, classroom, and individual student levels.
The work of school counselors is essential to meet all the Commonwealth's goals for preparing more students to be college and career ready. Part of this work includes a partnership with the Massachusetts School Counselors Association (MASCA). Among our goals is to collaborate with MASCA to support and expand the use of the Mass Model for Comprehensive School Counseling Programs in order to repurpose the role of school counselors and position them as a primary resource to lead students in college and career readiness. This partnership is designed around the Massachusetts Definition of College and Career Readiness.
Massachusetts is among 24 states and the District of Columbia that secured grants for this work through phase one of the New Skills for Youth grant opportunity. The grants are one piece of a $75 million, five-year initiative that JP Morgan Chase developed in partnership with the Council of Chief State School Officers and Advance CTE. The initiative is aimed at increasing economic opportunity for young people by strengthening career-focused education starting in high school and ending with postsecondary degrees or credentials aligned with business needs.
Last Updated: March 30, 2021
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