Boston Opportunity Agenda report card finds strength but slow growth in college enrollment and completion

Report findings undergird developing shared focus on college readiness and completion across BPS, Catholic and charter schools

February 28, 2018

Boston – Boston students continue to graduate high school and enroll in higher education at historically high levels, but have challenges completing post-secondary credential programs. Those are some of the findings of The 7th Annual Boston Opportunity Agenda Report Card, which was released Wednesday morning at the Boston Public Library.

The Boston Public Schools, Catholic schools and charter schools continue to post some of the most impressive high school 4-year graduation rates of any urban district in the nation. In 2015-2016, BPS’ 4-year graduation rate hit 72.4%, continuing a 10-year upward trend, while the city’s charter schools posted a 77% 4-year grad rate and Boston Catholic schools graduated 97% of their students in 4 years. These all show marked increases from the benchmark year of 2012-2013, when the rates were 65.9% for BPS, 74% for charters and 84% for Catholic schools.

That level of improvement has not been matched at the postsecondary level, notes Kristin McSwain, Executive Director of the Boston Opportunity Agenda. “The absolute number of BPS students graduating from both high school and college has risen in recent years, but the rate at which students persist and get a postsecondary credential has proven more stubborn to change,” said McSwain. “In addition, we continue to see persistent data that many Boston students, particularly low-income students of color, fail to achieve post-secondary degrees because they lack necessary preparation to succeed.”

The data reaffirm the decision made in 2017 by the Opportunity Agenda partners to create a shared definition of college, career and life readiness. That definition will serve as the centerpiece of new metrics and goals for Boston students that will be released later in 2018.

“The new readiness metrics being developed this year will take us beyond tracking typical school accountability indicators to understand more fully how our BPS, charter and Catholic schools together are preparing students for future success,” said Rev. Ray Hammond, the Chair of the Boston Opportunity Agenda. “By bringing together these three important school networks to work in concert, we are improving the likelihood that we can help every student in the city succeed.”

The 2018 report card also tracks students on a number of other indicators, many of which were reset this year with changes in the tests administered to 3rd, 6th and 10th-graders in the city, and features write-ups on a number of programs in place across the city to improve student achievement and success. 

Visit the Boston Opportunity Agenda website to view past report cards.


The Boston Opportunity Agenda (BOA) is a public/private partnership that works to increase dramatically the pace and scale of change in education for all children in Boston, with a focus on students who experience the least access to successful pathways. Our vision: All of Boston’s children and youth are prepared to succeed in college, career, and life. We fervently believe that by combining our resources, expertise, and influence around a single agenda, we will have a greater impact on Boston’s cradle-to-career educational pipeline.

While Boston has many exciting programs and organizations that focus on providing opportunities for individuals, the Boston Opportunity Agenda is a long-term partnership focused on achieving systemic change that will ultimately affect all Boston residents.

The partnership is entering its eighth year and is governed by the CEOs of each member organization. Together they identify strategic issues facing our education pipeline in whole or in part, formulate the Boston Opportunity Agenda priorities and strategies, and provide a call to action for community stakeholders.