For Immediate Release
Friday, October 29, 2010
Contact:Heidi Guarino 781-338-3106

Massachusetts Selected for $15 Million High School Graduation Initiative Project

Funds will be used to decrease dropouts and increase graduation rates

MALDEN - Governor Deval Patrick and state education officials recently announced that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has been selected to receive $15 million over the next five years through the federal High School Graduation Initiative (HSGI) to support statewide and local efforts for high school dropout prevention, intervention, and recovery. Massachusetts was one of just two states picked for the award from the U.S. Department of Education and one of 29 projects total nationwide selected for funding out of 184 applicants. The Massachusetts grant will focus on the 133 high schools throughout the Commonwealth that exceeded the statewide annual dropout rate of 2.9 percent in the 2008-09 school year. "Massachusetts students lead the nation in achievement but we will keep pushing until all our children are succeeding," said Governor Patrick. "These funds will help us continue to develop the strategies that engage and reach all of our students." "Reducing the dropout rate is a top priority for this administration," said Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray. "This grant will help support our continued work to identify best practices for high school dropout prevention, intervention, and recovery and help apply those methods to more schools in the Commonwealth." As part of his strategic vision to improve public education across the state, Governor Patrick's Education Action Agenda included the appointment of a Graduation and Dropout Prevention and Recovery Commission. The commission presented a report that included a number of recommendations on how the state could dramatically reduce the dropout rate through setting aggressive goals and intensifying supports. The Department announced earlier this year that the state's high school dropout rate dropped to under 3 percent for the first time in the last decade, marking the third straight year of improvement but recognizing that there is still work to do. The planning and implementation of the HSGI project will be led by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. The goal is to increase support for district-level initiatives through funding and technical assistance as well as bolstering the state-level infrastructure to maximize local activities to substantially increase the number of students who earn a high school diploma. This will be accomplished through a range of activities that promote mutual sharing of needs and promising practices at and across the state and local levels. "Every student that drops out is a story of tragedy both for that individual student's future prospects and for the Commonwealth," said Education Secretary Paul Reville. "We owe it to our students and to our economic future to ensure every student received the teaching and learning and support they need to graduate from high school ready for future challenges." "We have a moral and a fiscal imperative to reduce the dropout rate and increase the high school graduation rate," said Elementary and Secondary Education Mitchell Chester. "Today's students are facing increased expectations in higher education and the workforce and dropping out of school will not get them there." The HSGI grant will engage the 133 targeted high schools in the process of conducting a careful analysis to identify their at-risk students and advise them on effective and appropriate programs and policies to strengthen dropout prevention, intervention, and recovery approaches within each district. Massachusetts will collaborate with schools to assist them in implementing the highest quality interventions through technical assistance, training, and the exchange of promising practices. Through the HSGI grant project the ESE will implement four key activities, which combine local and state-level actions:
  • Create a State High School Graduation Coalition: The Department will create an inter-agency, cross-sector State High School Graduation Coalition to facilitate the statewide sharing of promising programs and practices, to engage in a public information campaign on dropout reduction, and to inform and support related state initiatives.
  • Expand the Dropout Prevention and Recovery Work Group: The Department will considerably expand the existing Work Group to increase the number of participating schools and districts and broaden the variety and frequency of opportunities for networking and sharing promising approaches among the 133 members of the HSGI School Cohort.
  • Implement Research-Based Practices in the HSGI School Cohort: Through a competitive grant process, the Department will help support targeted schools in implementing research- and evidenced-based practices and strategies. The Department will also provide technical assistance, state guidance, and learning exchanges with support from a new partnership with a state third-party intermediary organization.
  • Establish Three New Gateway to College Sites: The Department will create a new partnership with the Gateway to College National Network to establish the Gateway to College program - an early college model to support at-risk students - at three new sites through targeted funding and technical assistance.
The HGSI award caps nearly six months of good news in public education, and is the fifth major competitive grant the state has received since May. The Commonwealth earned the top score in the national Race to the Top competition and secured $250 million in funding to help implement the next generation of education reform in Massachusetts. The funding will be utilized to build a statewide data system to better track student performance, inform instructional practices and provide a new measure of teacher and principal effectiveness as well as to build a more professional teacher development and support system. Race to the Top includes a focus on incorporating health and human services into the school day. Massachusetts also received $13 million to build a statewide longitudinal data system to tie teachers to student performance, $59 million in School Improvement Grants to implement redesign plans in the state's Level 3 and 4 schools; $27 million through the Teacher Incentive Fund to attract and retain great teachers and leaders in 22 high-need schools in Boston and Springfield.

Last Updated: October 29, 2010

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