Since East Boston High School Headmaster Phil Brangiforte took over the reigns as the school’s leader, EBHS’s four year graduation rate has increased dramatically.
“When I took over in 2014 our graduation rate was 56 percent, so a little more than half of the freshman that started at the school in 2010 were graduating in four years,” explained Brangiforte. “That number increased to 64 percent in 2015 and then jumped to 67.7 percent in 2017.”
With the school already knowing the number seniors that will graduate at the end of this year, Brangiforte said he was blown away by the latest stats.
“[Nearly 75-percent] of our seniors will graduate this year on time,” said Brangiforte. “That means three out of four students who began as freshman at East Boston High School four years ago are graduating.”
Brangiforte pointed out that the school’s rate has risen by 27.1 percentage points over the past decade, climbing from 47.6 percent in 2007.
“I attribute the increase to a few things,” said Brangiforte. “We’ve given our students more opportunities to graduate on time with credit recovery, summer school and twilight classes.”
Brangiforte explained that along with credit recovery programs, EBHS has moved twilight, or night school, and summer school in house.
“I think a lot of students five or even 10 years ago found it hard to take part in these programs that help students behind in credits get back on track and reach their goal of earning a high school diploma,” said Brangiforte. “Our students use to have to travel all the way to Madison Park to do night school or summer school, but we’ve been able to move those programs here so we have a lot more students participating. We have been able to take away barriers for our students that once existed regarding access to district programs offered across the city.”
Brangiforte emphasized that he was in no way solely responsible for EBHS’s rising success.
“There’s a climate and culture here at the school where kids want to be here and participate and teachers want to be here and they are prepared everyday for the task at hand. We keep emphasizing the importance of getting a good education and everyone is preaching the same message day in and day out. I am extremely proud of my staff and students for all their hard work. We are truly a family, and everyone understands the importance to prepare students for college and career readiness. We place a strong emphasis on receiving a high school diploma and that’s been paying off.”
The trend four year graduation rate increase at EBHS is following a trend that expands across the Boston Public School (BPS) system.
BPS reported that the graduation rate reached a historic high in 2017, continuing its decade-long rise that has produced a nearly 15 percentage-point increase in the number of students earning a diploma in four years. Districtwide the four year graduation rate for the 2016-17 school year climbed to 72.7 percent, which represents a .3 percentage-point increase over the previous year and a 14.8 point increase since the 2006-2007 school year.
“I am proud that we are continuing to make great strides in ensuring that more students than ever are graduating from our high schools,” said Mayor Martin Walsh. “It is critical that every student who enters the Boston Public Schools leaves prepared to succeed in college, career and life, and a high school diploma is the catalyst for that. That is why as a city we are so committed to making sure our students are given the greatest opportunity to excel in school.”
In addition to improving the graduation rate, BPS has made considerable gains in reducing its annual dropout rate, which fell districtwide by nearly 1 percentage point from 2016 to 2017.
“We’ve made it our mission to close opportunity and achievement gaps so that every student, in every classroom, in every BPS school can have the best possible shot at success,” said BPS Superintendent Tommy Chang. “It is imperative that we not only ensure our students earn a high-school diploma, but we teach them the skills that will help them conquer college and compete for the high-skilled jobs in today’s global economy.”
Boston School Committee Chairperson Michael Loconto said the district’s continued improvement in lowering its dropout rate plays an integral part in increasing graduation rates.
“Keeping at-risk students engaged and in school is vital to ensuring they remain on a path to graduate,” he said. “Targeted measures, such as individualized learning and career pathways, can make their education seem more relevant and inspire our students to work harder and dream bigger. It’s great to see these efforts are having a real impact.”