In 2010, Brighton High School in Boston had an enrollment of 1,208 students, according to the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. That year, the school’s graduation rate was 57.1 percent of the 224 students in the senior class according to Pioneer Institute’s MassReportCards graduation rate statistics. Five years later in 2015, Brighton High School had 974 total students enrolled with a 61.1 percent graduation rate. In 2020, they had 535 students enrolled with a 54.7 percent graduation rate and the most recent year on record, 2021, Brighton HS had 402 students enrolled with a 68.2 percent graduation rate. Overall, Brighton High School’s enrollment has been dropping in the past decade, but their graduation rates have been increasing, which at a glance may seem like at least some good news, right?
Compared to the neighboring charter, private and exam high schools, Brighton High is still falling behind. The Boston Green Academy Horace Mann Charter School, which is located in Brighton and opened in 2012, had 335 students with a 70.8 percent graduation rate. Unlike Brighton High School, Boston Green Academy Charter School saw a 59.9 percent increase in enrollment and a 25 percent increase in graduation rates between their opening in 2012 to 2021.
The local Catholic high school, Saint Joseph Preparatory School, had a 10.2 percent increase in enrollment from 2010 to 2021 with 248 students; their graduation rates are not publicly available. Another option for students in Brighton and the Boston area is to attend an exam school where admission is determined by their grades and performances on a district-identified assessment. One of these schools is the historic Boston Latin School. Having a drastically higher enrollment than the other previously mentioned schools, Boston Latin, with 2,483 students, had a 3.7 percent increase in enrollment from 2010 to 2021. Additionally, Boston Latin School’s graduation rate increased by 0.2 percent from 2010 to 2021 to 97.6 percent.
Boston Public Schools (BPS) non-exam schools are falling behind in both enrollment and graduation rate percentages compared to charter, private, and exam schools. Brighton High School’s 68.2 percent graduation rate still is behind Boston’s overall graduation rate of 78.8 percent. Boston’s graduation rate is also 11 percent behind the Massachusetts state average graduation rate of 89.8 percent.
This is not good news for Brighton High School or Boston Public Schools altogether, and there is yet another factor that complicates Boston’s Public Schools’ graduation rate statistics. In January of 2021 The Boston Globe published an article reporting that BPS has been wrongfully overstating their graduation rates for the past seven years. It may have seemed like the graduation rates in Boston Public Schools like Brighton High have been increasing to historic highs in the past decade but those statistics may be misleading. The combination of inaccurate graduation rates and decreasing enrollment leaves BPS in a difficult position, especially when compared to their neighboring private, charter, and exams schools.
So what can be done to fix this? In a February column, Pioneer Institute Executive Director Jim Stergios and Fenior Fellow Charles Chieppo suggest it may be time for state leaders to intervene to help Boston Public Schools towards a brighter future. Learn more at Time for the State to Take Over Boston Public Schools
Mitchell Bove is a Roger Perry Government Transparency Intern at the Pioneer Institute for Summer 2022. He is a rising junior at Suffolk University with a major in U.S. History and minors in Media & Film.