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Thursday, May 17, 2018

Baker-Polito Administration Announces Designation Status to Early College Programs

Baker-Polito Administration Announces Designation Status to Early College Programs
Five programs receive designation and $673,500 in total grant funding to launch programs

BOSTON  The Baker-Polito Administration today officially designated five early college programs to help high school students better prepare academically for college while also earning college credits at no cost to them. Early college programs combine traditional high school courses with an opportunity to earn college credit at a public college or university and are typically aligned to a particular career pathway. The five designated early college programs – in Chelsea, Charlestown, Holyoke, Brockton and Salem – will enroll hundreds of students this fall.

“Designating these five early college programs will create more opportunities for Massachusetts high school students to be ready for college,” Governor Charlie Baker said. “We are very proud of the faculty and staff at these high schools and colleges for taking on the hard work to create early college programs so students will benefit from challenging course work that will prepare them for success in high school and college, as well as reduce their overall cost to obtain a degree.”

“Early college programs are a great tool for combining traditional high school courses with an opportunity to earn college credit at a local community college,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. “We look forward to working with these high schools and colleges to implement these grants and make these early college programs successful for our students, who are the future of the Commonwealth.”

Early college has been shown to boost college completion rates for low-income students, minorities and first-generation college-goers. By creating designated early college programs, the Baker-Polito Administration aims to break down barriers between high school and higher education in order to create a more seamless path for students to move to college and careers.  

“Successful early college programs create a coherent course of study that can change the trajectory of a student’s life,” Education Secretary James Peyser said. “By designating these early college programs we are creating a shift in the educational experience for many students.”

In March 2017, Governor Charlie Baker announced the Baker-Polito Administration would make efforts to significantly increase the number of early college seats available to high school students. Currently there are approximately 2,400 students enrolled in early college programs around the state.

The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education and the Board of Higher Education agreed on criteria that will enable programs to become designated early college programs. Through the designation process, the Departments of Higher Education and Elementary and Secondary Education asked K-12 schools, community colleges and state universities to jointly design models.

“Many young people need an opportunity to see themselves in college so they can know it is possible for them. By giving high school students, particularly those who will be the first in their family to attend the chance to succeed in college-level courses before they earn a high school diploma, we give them the confidence to know that a college degree is within their reach,” Higher Education Commissioner Carlos Santiago said.

“I am proud to be part of this collaborative effort to prepare more students to succeed in college,” Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Jeffrey C. Riley said. “I hope that students will take advantage of these opportunities, and I am grateful to the educators who are making these courses possible.”

There are five design principles for a designated early college program:

·       Equitable access for all students
·       Guided academic pathway
·       Enhanced student supports 
·       Relevant connection to career
·       Deep partnerships between high schools, community colleges and state universities
In 2016, the Boards of Higher Education and Elementary and Secondary Education looked at whether the state could devise an early college strategy. They commissioned a study, done by Parthenon-EY Education Practice, to look at what exists in Massachusetts and the possibility of expanding successful models. The report found early college is a promising model that narrows educational opportunity gaps, and existing programs were a powerful base from which to build a broader statewide early college initiative.

The following organizations received early college designation, and implementation grant funding: 

1.      Charlestown High School and Bunker Hill Community College – Awarded $136,280: BCC and Charlestown High School will provide career pathway programs in information technology and business, which combine early college experiences and career exploration. The schools plan to expand opportunities to high school students and eventually add more fields to the program, with health and liberal arts courses.

2.      Chelsea High School and Bunker Hill Community College – Awarded $125,686: Chelsea High School and Bunker Hill Community College will expand their existing early college program by developing pathways in three fields: health and life sciences, law and public policy, and education. The goal is to have students graduate from high school, with an associates’ degree or a professional certificate from Bunker Hill Community College.

3.      Holyoke Public Schools and Holyoke Community College and – Awarded $131,600: The college is establishing a new early college program with Holyoke Public Schools that will enable students to earn up to 12 college credits before high school graduation. Students enrolled in the program will complete a minimum of two core courses taught by HCC at the Holyoke campus, and complete a minimum of two technical courses, giving students experience and a pathway to college.

4.      Massasoit Community College and New Heights Charter School of Brockton – Awarded $140,000: The program plans to expand from 315 students enrolled to 735 over five years. Students will be introduced to career options and college connections. Students will create individualized college and career plans to begin thinking about future career goals.  In later grades students will participate in work and learn opportunities, identify college majors and explore college options.

5.      Salem State and Salem Public Schools – Awarded $140,000: The goal of this new program is to provide underrepresented, low-income students with a seamless transition to college, after focusing on a career pathway in healthcare or business and technology. Students who successfully complete courses during the 11th grade will be enrolled in Salem State University to continue their studies in the 12th grade and beyond.