Voc-tech schools lowering the dropout rate

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This is the fifth and final leg of my series on the tremendous progress being made in our regional vocational-technical (VTE) schools in Massachusetts. These schools have changed markedly in the past ten years, as they moved from a stance of opposition to the major pillars of Massachusetts’ landmark education reform law of 1993. By embracing accountability and the high-quality academic standards the state developed in the late 1990s, the regional VTEs were able to nurture students in an individual way that made sense given their interest in academics as well as career preparation.

The unique vocational-technical education attributes of close adult relationship, individualized instruction to recognized benchmarks, and student choice and commitment to programs studied have combined to great effect. Just consider this. High dropout rates plague much of the state. Our statewide average is 3.8 percent, or 15 percent of students over the four-year high school period. Our cities and poorer districts have even much higher percentages. Yet regional vocational technical schools keep dropouts to 1.5 percent (6 percent cumulatively). How they do it should be of interest to everyone.

This video features David Ferreira, executive director of the Massachusetts Association of Vocational Administrators; Fred Savoie, retired superintendent of the Blue Hills Regional Vocational-Technical High School; and Alison Fraser, Blackstone Valley Regional Vocational-Technical High School.

Success preventing Dropouts from Mike Dean on Vimeo.

Along with charter schools and interdistrict choice programs, the stand-alone vocational-technical schools are an important part of the fabric of Massachusetts’ tapestry of school choice. In many regards, these programs are examples of full implementation of the 1993 education reform act, inasmuch as they benefit from its three core provisions—high standards, accountability, and choice.

You can access videos other videos on vocational-technical schools here, on MCAS and academic gains, Vocational-technical schools as models of choice, Working with the business community, and Supporting special needs students.

Crossposted at Boston.com’s Rock the Schoolhouse.