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Much more to dropout measure than just raising age

I was thrilled to see the photos of the Education Committee hearing on my dropout prevention bill in Wednesday’s Metro section (“Bill would raise dropout age,” Oct. 9). Business leaders, education advocates, parents, and students from all over Massachusetts came to the State House. They came to testify in support of solutions that have been shown to increase graduation rates in schools and districts across the state and in other states.

The headline and caption, however, sold short the bill and the testimony offered by so many young people. While the provision to raise the compulsory attendance age to 18 is the most publicized component of the bill, it is also the provision that least addresses the root causes of students abandoning school.

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Students’ and educators’ testimony focused much more on the components of the bill calling for graduation coaches, increased family engagement, and individualized supports, precisely because these are the proven strategies that have worked in pilot programs. These strategies are the core of the bill. We can’t declare success in keeping students in school unless their hearts and minds are there too.

Sonia Chang-Díaz

State senator

Second Suffolk District

Boston

The writer cochairs the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Education.

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