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MassGrad case studies highlight programs that aim to improve high school dropout rates

The purpose of the Massachusetts High School Graduation Initiative project (“MassGrad”) led by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (ESE) is to work towards reducing the statewide dropout rate by embracing the local-control elements of the education system in Massachusetts, while also implementing state-level support that adds considerable value to the local activities to substantially increase the number of students who earn a high school diploma.

The MassGrad Implementation Awards are multi-year contract awards to develop dropout prevention, intervention, and recovery strategies. The MassGrad initiative targeted the 133 schools from 76 districts that exceeded the statewide annual dropout rate of 2.9% during the 2008–09 school year. Twenty-eight of the MassGrad high schools in 17 districts received Implementation Awards through a competitive application process.

The Institute was asked by ESE to perform case studies on three of the awardees:

The case studies’ main purpose is to support school personnel throughout Massachusetts who plan to conduct or are already conducting similar programs. Dropout prevention strategies highlighted in the case studies include graduation coaching, service and work-based learning, online courses for credit recovery, socio-emotional support systems, and alternative pathways to a diploma.

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UMass Donahue Institute

University of Massachusetts Amherst

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