Brockton's Multiple Education Pathways Approach for Out-of-School Youth
The Brockton Public Schools System (BPSS), Brockton Area Workforce Investment Board (BAWIB), and community-based organizations have aligned to strategically implement city-wide approaches to prevent students from dropping out and systematically reconnect those who do dropout. Alternative learning opportunities, in the form of pathways, engage youth in relevant academic studies and workforce preparation, while some are preparing and connecting them to postsecondary education opportunities. For example, Brockton has applied pathway strategies at Champion and Russell schools, which have the capacity to offer supports and programs for disconnected youth. Champion, formerly a charter school, is now functioning as an alternative high school serving over-aged, under credited disconnected youth. Champion features a small class (avg. 15) competency-based Diploma Plus model, Champion provides hands-on experiences and project-based curriculum in three phases, where student achievement and success is based on how well they show what they know, rather than the amount of seat time accumulated. In this particular model, Response to Intervention (RTI) strategies are integrated and an innovative Plus phase, typically the last, requires youth to complete a 100-hour internship in addition to completing one credit-bearing course at Massasoit Community College (MCC) in order to graduate. Russell provides small learning communities and individualized MCAS instruction for youth with a much broader approach. Offering diploma, GED, and transfer options, Russell serves disconnected youth with significant barriers that include expulsion, truancy, DSS/DYS involvement, poor academic records, pregnant, and/or are out-of-school. Every student receives career development and internship opportunities in-line with their career interests and exposure to real world work experiences. An intensive and technology-based instructional model also incorporates behavior management training, community college participation, conflict resolution and social skills training. Other examples include:
Night Schools and Afternoon Academies
Night schools and afternoon academies (seven schools in total) are flexible options available for out-of-school youth who have busy schedules. The academies are 16-unit diploma granting programs targeted to disconnected youth and English Language Learners (ESLL) students. Serving about 400 youth ranging from the ages of 16 to24, the academies offer intensive instruction in English, math and literacy skills development. Accelerated learning and credit bearing writing, reading, and elective courses are provided to youth in combination with robust internship opportunities.
Brockton's MY TURN
Brockton's MY TURN helps out-of-school and needy youth through programs that transition youth into work and/or creates connections to postsecondary. MY TURN has developed three career pathways, including short-term trainings, industry recognized credentials, and work-based learning experiences for youth in the areas of human services, health, and retail/customer service, all of which are prominent industries in the Southeastern region of Massachusetts. Upon receiving their GED, youth will continue receiving services from MY TURN while simultaneously enrolling in courses at Massasoit Community College and working toward attaining an associate degree.
Expansion of GED Plus Provides Opportunities for Reengagement and Support
Piloting a new GED plus program, Brockton is positioning itself to support and leverage funding to offer innovative modified GED programs in the city. As one of only eight programs funded in the nation, the City of Brockton will secure additional private state and national funding to expand participation in the GED Plus program. The GED Plus Program will provide comprehensive services and programs including counseling, case management, GED instruction, academic tutoring and remediation needed for college entry, referrals to social services, entrepreneurship, financial literacy and computer literacy classes, and college exploration and preparation.
A Centralized Pathway Center Advancing Multiple Pathway and Intervention Approaches and Strategies
Brockton's Pathway Center is a comprehensive community reengagement and student supports approach providing youth access to services such as education pathways (high school diploma or GED), counseling, employment training, literacy development, referrals, wrap around services, and case management. Under various stages of development and implementation, the Center will feature several initiatives and pathways that reconnect dropouts and build capacity to identify at-risk youth for a seamless transition into a pathway best suited for their success. They include:
- A distance learning project pathway that will allow youth to take courses online even if they are not enrolled in a particular program.
- Entrepreneurial Education and Technology Training are available at the Pathway Center for youth to receive training and take courses toward becoming an entrepreneur and having more youth involved in Business Management, while gaining marketable skills and certifications through technology pathways.
- Partnerships, known as KEY, with the Brockton Police Department (Shannon program), Brockton Workforce Investment Board, Brockton Public schools and the school district provides wraparound supports, guidance and counseling for disconnected youth and dropouts.
- A reengagement center
Innovation at Massasoit Community College Promotes Academic Success and Links Youth to Postsecondary Success
Massasoit Community College's (MCC) "Gateway to College" program boasts an innovative dual tract approach that gives out-of-school youth the opportunity to receive a regular high school diploma through college level courses and curriculum and up to 39 college level credits upon completion. MCC's Gateway to Colleges is a two year; year-round academic program offering a small school-community setting for 16 to22 year old students who are disconnected or have previously dropped out and want to get a traditional high school diploma. MCC's unique and innovative approach differs from the traditional Gateway program in that Gateway uses a cohort model where students remain together in one cohort taking the same courses until graduation. Course curriculum is approved by the district and taught by MCC professors and integrates career exploration and career mapping. Additionally, a community service model requires youth to create an online portfolio, based on 45 hours of community service relevant to career interest, over four sequential semesters and present to a panel of employers, faculty and staff, and community and business partners. Upon graduation, a transitional mentoring program, in partnership with Bridgewater Community College, will help link gateway students to supports and resources for successful entry into postsecondary education if they do not matriculate into MCC. Gateway graduates matriculating into MCC can transfer college level credits to degree seeking programs such as Liberal Arts and need as few as seven classes (21 credits) to meet the programs minimum requirements of 60 credits to receive an associate degree.
Shannon Grants Provides Resources to Put Disconnected Youth in Alternative Education Settings and Reduce Crime and Juvenile Delinquency
Shannon grant dollars fund several anti-gang initiatives and programs in Brockton. Anti-gang initiatives create cross-system collaboration between BPSS, Brockton Police Department (BPD) and BAWIB to create strategies and interventions that help place youth into education or career pathways. BPD, law enforcement and juvenile justice systems, the mayor's office and the school district work collaboratively with community‐based organizations to provide education, skills training, and employment opportunities. Innovative use of data and an early indicator warning system, supported by the grants, are used to track and follow at-risk students and former at-risk students who have dropped out. WHISTLE, an early warning system, stores student attendance records, grades and behavior information in a data warehouse that can be accessed to target support, including alternative education options within the district, mental health, tutoring, and mentoring services. Through the leadership of BPD, considerable Shannon grant dollars have flowed to services, programs and initiatives that reconnect and engage out-of school youth. Programs such as "Safe Corners" assign outreach workers at Russell and within the community to reengage youth offenders and out-of-school youth. Additionally, "KEY office" is a strategic youth-oriented and youth-friendly support system that links dropouts with pathways and programs that offer new, better ways for these youth to learn. Both programs are significantly benefiting from BPD's quarter of a million dollar investment of Shannon grant funding into the Brockton's Pathways Center to support these alternatives and approaches to multiple education pathways, rather than beefing up law force strategies.
Plymouth County D.A. Office
Brockton Police Department
Brockton Resource Guide: Education and Training Options for Youth and Young Adults, http://www.brocktonpublicschools.com/uploaded/Programs-Services/BrocktonEducFoundation/Brockton_Resource_Guide_-_Ed_&_Training.pdf
Brockton Education and Taskforce Report http://www.brockton.ma.us/Docs/Task_Force_Education.pdf