PRESS RELEASE – Holyoke Public Schools dropout rate nearly cut in half and graduation rate improves

PRESS RELEASE – Holyoke Public Schools dropout rate nearly cut in half and graduation rate improves

February 14, 2020




Holyoke Public Schools dropout rate nearly cut in half and graduation rate improves


HOLYOKE, Massachusetts – The Holyoke Public Schools (HPS) has seen a significant improvement in its dropout and graduation rates according to recently published information from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.  The district’s 2019 dropout rate has fallen to 3.6 percent, nearly half of what it was in 2015 (7.6 percent), and the graduation rate has increased to 72.2 percent, an improvement of over ten percentage points since 2015 (62 percent).


“I am immensely proud of the efforts of countless staff, students and their families to relentlessly commit to remaining in school and crossing the stage to receive their diploma at graduation,” stated Receiver/Superintendent Dr. Stephen Zrike, Jr.  “Nearly a decade ago, almost 10 percent of our high school students dropped out of school and less than 50 percent of high school students graduated from high school.  While the improvement is significant, we cannot be satisfied until all of our students graduate from high school truly prepared to excel in higher education or a career path of their choice.”


The graduation rates for English Learners (EL), Latinx, and students with disabilities have especially improved as follows:

2015 2019
EL 35.1 percent 51.4 percent
Latinx 55.6 percent 69.2 percent
Students with disabilities 32.1 percent 45.7 percent


As part of the district’s turnaround efforts, the Holyoke Public Schools has embarked on a strategic, innovative High School Redesign initiative that includes strategies for improving the instruction and services offered, and providing students with the skills and tools they need to be successful now, and later in college and their careers.


“I’m extremely proud of the students we have here, all of them,” stated Student Success Coach Juan Maldonado.  “We meet them where they are at.  I graduated from Holyoke High and I’m originally from Holyoke, so when I look at the students, and I work with the students, it reminds me of me when I was in the seat at Holyoke High, trying to get my diploma, working so hard. I had so many people supporting me and pushing me, so I see myself in them when I am working with our students.”


Holyoke Public Schools attributes the improved dropout and graduation rates to the hard work and dedication of our students and the commitment of our school and district staff who have worked to:

  • expand student options programming such as credit recovery, dual enrollment, Saturday School, Opportunity Academy, Newcomer Program;
  • establish student support teams to identify students at risk of dropping out and provide them with appropriately personalized supports;
  • build positive relationships with students, families, and community stakeholders
  • increase access to intervention and tutoring programs for students that have fallen behind.


According to Holyoke High School (HHS) Student Aleq Rodriguez, “It (Opportunity Academy) got me to change my life.  Without this program I’d be out on the streets, I wouldn’t be in school.”


Jack Shea, HHS North Campus senior, shared, “I have had spectacular teachers during my time at HPS.  And some of them I have to thank for where I am today.  Going to Harvard has been an aspiration for the past few years, and I believe I made it because my parents taught me to strive for the best and because my friends and community at HHS have always been supportive.”


Holyoke High School students receive an in-depth, well-rounded, MassCore-aligned education that is designed to prepare them for college, career, and community leadership.  The district has expanded choices for students through innovative programs, community initiatives and university partnerships that help students develop a wide range of skills and interests and explore college and career options.  Participation in advanced placement, and early college and dual enrollment offerings with Holyoke Community College, Westfield State University, and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst) has almost doubled in five years and success associated with these offerings has nearly tripled.  The demographics of who is taking these courses increasingly matches the demographics of our school, which reflects a huge turnaround.  (See graphs (PDF)).  Additionally, the high school also has 120 students participating in co-ops, internships, and practicums, a ten-fold increase over recent years.


For more about the progress that is taking place in the Holyoke Public Schools, please view our listing of the top district accomplishments since 2015.


 FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT: Judy Taylor, 413-493-1605,