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Fewer Boston high school graduates are enrolling in college, while completion rates stagnate

A college degree can lead to greater economic mobility and improved job market prospects. However, after a 2008 report found that only 35 percent of Boston Public Schools (BPS) graduates who entered college had completed postsecondary education within seven years, a coalition including the Boston Foundation, the City of Boston, and BPS launched a college completion initiative called Success Boston. A core component of Success Boston is transition coaching to support students in their first two years of college. Success Boston Coaching (SBC) matches recent BPS graduates with a coach, who meets with them regularly during their first two years of college and supports them as they navigate academic, financial, and social barriers in college. SBC primarily serves students from groups traditionally underrepresented in postsecondary education, including members of racial/ethnic minority groups and students from backgrounds of economic disadvantage.

Abt was hired to study the effects of SBC. Looking across five BPS graduating classes, we found that students who received SBC were 18 percent more likely to graduate in four years, and 12 percent more likely to graduate in five years, than their non-coached peers. In an article on our study findings and the challenges students face, The Boston Globe spoke to one of the study authors, Abt’s Kelly Lack. In addition to summarizing the report’s findings, Kelly noted that the city’s goal of a 70-percent completion rate is “a good motivation to help us think about what we can continue to do to help support students throughout their college careers.”

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