High School Re-Engagement

The PIC began to work on high school re-engagement because of a dropout crisis. During the 2005-06 school year, the a study conducted by the Youth Transitions Task Force (YTTF) found that 1,936 students dropped out of the BPS system. the PIC and the YTTF also collaborated with the Center for Labor Market Studies on a research project which yielded groundbreaking findings, including that a college graduate earns three times the lifetime revenue of a high school dropout and lives nearly a decade longer. The study also discovered that over a lifetime, each dropout adds almost a half-million dollars to the public tab through lost revenue and increased government spending.

Policy and Practice

To address the dropout crisis, the PIC hired outreach specialists, former dropouts themselves, to reenroll young people in the BPS. This work, and its success, inspired the BPS to establish the Re-Engagement Center (REC) in a partnership with the PIC in 2009. The REC also collects data on students’ needs and academic profiles in order to inform the district and YTTF and influence future programming changes.

Since the PIC’s work with dropouts began in 2006, 2,814 students have re-enrolled or enrolled in a BPS alternative education program with the support of the REC, and 655 of them have earned a high school diploma. Between 2005 and 2019, the number of students dropping out of the BPS annually fell from 1,936 to 660, a 66% reduction.

The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the dropout rate are still unknown, but we expect that some of the city’s remarkable progress will be erased, making the PIC’s re-engagement work more important than ever.

Re-Engagement Center

The Re-Engagement Center (REC) directly addresses educational disparities by reaching out to BPS high school dropouts and in-school dropouts, a group that is disporportionately Black, Latino and low-income, both nationally and locally. The REC helps them re-enroll in the BPS or other alternative program and then supports them at their placement. The majority of dropouts are behind in credits for their age, and the REC has the expertise to connect them with specialized alternative options to accelerate their academic progress.

Youth Transitions Task Force

At the same time that the PIC is working on the ground at the REC, it is also working at a collective impact level through the Youth Transitions Task Force. The YTTF convenes a broad group of stakeholders—including the Boston Public Schools, community organizations, city departments, state agencies, and philanthropy – to support at-risk students, with the goal of bringing the high school dropout rate to zero.