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Boston Public Schools Turns to Online Courses to Help Boost Graduation Rates

To help improve its four- and five-year high school graduation rates, Boston Public Schools is expanding its partnership with online course provider Apex Learning.

The partnership, which began in 2007, focused on the district’s credit recovery program targeting students most at risk of dropping out. The courses are self-paced and include integrated formative and summative assessment throughout. Boston Public Schools is now offering online courses aimed at advanced placement, skill development, and dropout prevention as well.

According to a series of reports by the district, a total of 396 students completed at least one credit recovery course via the online program during the 2011-12 school year and following summer, and 72 percent of them had earned a diploma and graduated by the end of the year.

The overall graduation rate has also been rising steadily in recent years, climbing to 66 percent for four-year graduation in 2013; the five-year graduation rate is now 70 percent, and the dropout rate is at its lowest since tracking began in 1977.

"Working with key partners, we have taken a series of dramatic steps over the past several years to change the district's thought process on students that drop out, working to both reengage with those who have left the school system and proactively seeking to prevent others from being in a position where dropping out is their course of action," said Boston School Committee Chair Michael O'Neill in a statement.

About the Author

Stephen Noonoo is an education technology journalist based in Los Angeles. He is on Twitter @stephenoonoo.