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The college enrollment rate of Boston Public School graduates may be relatively high (66.2% for the class of 2011), but there is significant variation by race, income level, disability status, and English proficiency. Although there has been considerable research on the relationships between postsecondary outcomes, student background characteristics, and precollege academic factors, relatively little research focuses on how characteristics of high schools may be related to students successfully transitioning and progressing in postsecondary education.

In this mixed methods study, we examine the practices, programs, and conditions of high school education that best prepare Boston Public School students for postsecondary success. High school characteristics such as size, climate, and course availability may be related to postsecondary outcomes. This study will address the limited research available to educators about high school institutional characteristics and school-level practices associated with student postsecondary success. The study will also attempt to identify what schools with higher college persistence rates among their graduates do differently than schools whose graduates have lower college persistence rates. Understanding these relationships could provide a more complete understanding of the factors that influence student postsecondary success and help to identify where policymakers and practitioners can best act to boost student outcomes.