State and district leaders across the Northeast and Islands Region are committed to ensuring all students leave school ready for college or careers. The New England Secondary Schools Consortium, or NESSC—which includes education leaders from Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont—is aggressively pursuing a five-year plan to increase graduation rates, decrease dropouts, increase college matriculation, reduce demand for post-secondary remediation, and strengthen relationships between secondary and post-secondary educational institutions. New Hampshire and New York have long track records of investing in addressing the challenges of preparing all students for college and careers and have built rich data sets on large populations of students to help guide policymaking in this area.
While many regional stakeholders recognize the fundamental connection between lowering dropout rates and college and career readiness, however, not all have been able to make the kinds of investments represented by the work of the NESSC. In Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands, high dropout rates, particularly before high school, are widely recognized but not well understood, largely because educational data systems in those jurisdictions are underresourced and underdeveloped. These jurisdictions need support as they seek to build a more systematic and detailed understanding of patterns of student dropout, which is a first step toward establishing effective pathways toward college and successful careers for all students.