State Strategies to Ensure All Students Graduate

State Strategies to Ensure All Students Graduate
State Strategies to Ensure All Students Graduate


The American Youth Policy Forum (AYPF) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan professional development organization that bridges youth policy, practice and research for professionals at the national, state and local levels.  This study mission, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, enabled participants from Alabama, Delaware, Kansas, and South Carolina to learn from Massachusetts’ comprehensive efforts to improve support systems for high school students at risk of dropping out.  Panel discussions, presentations, and site visits showcased the state’s use of early warning systems, alternative education, community partnerships, and longitudinal data systems in their prevention and recovery strategies.  In conjunction with this learning experience, participants also attended a conference in April focused on policy implementation and technical assistance provided by America’s Promise Alliance and the Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins University.

In addition to our discussions with key state leaders, we saw Massachusetts’ prevention and recovery strategies in action.  Our first site visit will be to the Gateway to College Program at Mount Wachusett Community College in Gardner, MA.  The Gateway to College program forges formal partnerships between colleges and school districts in a dual-enrollment model that allows students to concurrently earn a high-school diploma and significant college credits.  This national program, currently offered at 27 colleges in 16 states, is improving attendance rates and academic performance for students aged 16 – 20 who have dropped out or are at risk of dropping out.  The branch at Mount Wachusett Community College, one of three locations in Massachusetts, was opened in 2006 and is supported by foundations and K-12 Chapter 70 (School Choice) funds.  This program enrolls approximately 90 students annually.

Our second site visit showcased the district of Brockton, MA‘s multifaceted effort to ensure all students have an opportunity to graduate.  A small city of approximately 100,000 residents, Brockton Public Schools (BPS) is a regional leader in aligning and leveraging national, state, and community resources to identify and assist students in need of extra support towards high school graduation.  The school system boasts the largest high school in the state at 4,100 students, supports 64% of district students on the free lunch program, and for nearly a third of district students, English is a second language.  To address the number and diversity of their youth, BPS has developed an early warning system, called WHISTLE, that stores student attendance records, grades and behavior in a data warehouse that can be accessed.  Once identified, at-risk students count on a plethora of support options, including alternative education options within the district, mental health services, tutoring, and mentoring.  These academic initiatives are bolstered by significant community programming, including Brockton’s Promise, a coalition of 70 local partners that provides developmental resources to the city’s youth, and the Brockton Teen Center.


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The American Youth Policy Forum (AYPF), a nonprofit, nonpartisan professional development organization based in Washington, DC, provides learning opportunities for policy leaders, practitioners, and researchers working on youth and education issues at the national, state, and local levels. AYPF events and publications are made possible by contributions from philanthropic foundations. For a complete list, click here.