Student dropout prevention bill moves ahead

March 16, 2012
By

A bill that proposes new ways to prevent students from dropping out of school, sponsored by Jamaica Plain’s state Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz, is gaining momentum in the State House.

The bill (S. 185) would: raise the mandatory school attendance age from 16 to 18; expand a program to identify at-risk students; create a “graduation coach” program for such students; push schools to reduce the use of suspension and expulsion as punishments; and require exit interviews with students who drop out to suggest alternative education options.

“We know that the best way to keep students on a path to graduation is to create a comprehensive plan that addresses the root causes of why they drop out,” Chang-Diaz said in a press statement. “That’s exactly the approach that this bill takes. It is based on proven ideas from around the nation, and calls on all the actors surrounding our students to own a piece of the solution.”

About 8,000 students statewide drop out of school each year. Dropouts make up 70 percent of the state’s jail and prison populations, according to Chang-Diaz’s office.

The bill moved out of the Joint Committee on Education, where Chang-Diaz is the Senate chair, last week. It is being taken up by the Senate Ways and Means Committee.

From press materials.