City, News

Dropout rates soar in Boston

Boston, a city known for its high number of higher education institutions, is seeing a surge in the number of college dropouts, leading educators to reassess the methods they have used to encourage college attendance.

Nearly two out of three Boston Public School graduates from the class of 2000 who went on to higher education institutions did not earn degrees, according to a Nov. 14 report from The Boston Foundation.

The study followed the college graduation rates of students in the BPS high school class of 2000 that enrolled in two-year institutions, public four-year institutions and private four-year institutions over the past seven years.

The news was disheartening to BPS educators, who increased the number of graduating students from Boston’s public schools and reached a record number of students in post-secondary institutions over the past year.

Ruth Shane, director of the Boston Public Schools Collaborative at Boston University, said several factors contributed to the low number of Boston public high school graduates who went on to earn degrees.

Shane said Boston students and inner-city students as a whole face a myriad of problems. She said inner city schools sometimes fail to teach students the necessary skills they will need for college and inner-city students are more likely to be the first in their families to attend college.

‘Sometimes there’s a misalignment between what the high schools think the colleges want and what the colleges actually want,’ she said.

Shane said universities and colleges in Boston needed to be more available to assist students.

School of Education professor Evangeline Stefanakis said the emphasis on passing state-mandated standard tests was damaging the school system and not teaching students necessary critical thinking skills.

‘The issue for Boston in the last 10 years was how to ratchet up MCAT scores. Everyone was trying to move to the middle,’ Stefanakis said, ‘The measures moved the low kids up, but didn’t do anything for the middle and high achieving students.’

In a Nov. 17 press release, Mayor Thomas Menino promised to enact changes that will double the college graduation rate for Boston public school students.

‘This baseline report, along with an action plan that provides a roadmap of measurable progress, will help all of us make the changes necessary to give our young people the quality educational experience they deserve,’ Menino said in the statement.

Last week. Menino and Boston Public Schools superintendent Carol Johnson held a press conference at Northeastern University to stress the drastic measures that must be taken to increase graduation rates among Boston high school students.

Menino unveiled the plan, ‘Getting Ready, Getting In and Getting Through,’ which called for increased assistance for Boston students at all stages of their academic career. He said the program will assist students preparing for collegiate coursework and will counsel them on how to properly apply for college and financial aid.

Morehouse College freshman and Boston Latin graduate Reginauld Williams said Boston Latin left him lacking in some areas and misinformed in others.’

‘When I showed up for my first English class, I wasn’t prepared for the course load,’ he said. ‘Things I’d thought I’d learned in high school turned out to be all wrong.’

Williams said some of his friends also struggled once they got to college.

‘It’s like we’re learning how to learn all over again,’ he said.

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