It is important to note that the latest news on the MCAS scores do not make any mention of drop out rates. Having worked as a teacher in the Springfield public schools for a few years, I noticed a real desperation in their efforts to raise scores, and extensive use of policies, such as long term suspensions, that increase the dropout rate. (I've even heard rumors that Springfield wants to make Calculus mandatory for graduation.)
One of my principals, (I had 4 in 3 years) seemed to believe that if students that are disruptive and unmotivated drop out, the benefits to the schools will be substantial. However, there are a number of problems with this theory.
First, the students who are alienated by the harsh policies, such as long term suspensions, are often good students. I can think of many examples, one of which was documented in my local paper.
Second, irreparable damage is done to the student and the community when a young person is forced out of school.
Third, both teachers and students loose heart when they see others hurt by their institution.