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Thursday, September 06, 2018

Governor Baker Highlights Early College Program in Chelsea

Governor Baker Highlights Early College Program in Chelsea

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CHELSEA– Governor Charlie Baker visited Chelsea High School today to see students taking early college classes, which gives high school students an opportunity to learn in college-level courses while earning credits, at no cost. The Baker-Polito Administration is working to significantly increase the number of early college seats in the Commonwealth to better prepare students for college-level work, boost college completion rates and provide opportunities for students to earn credits as a way to ease their financial burden.

Early college programs combine traditional high school courses with college-level courses taught by faculty at a local community college or state university, typically in a particular career pathway such as STEM. Successful programs boost college completion rates for low-income students, minorities and first-generation college-goers.

At Chelsea High School, the Governor was joined by Education Secretary James Peyser, Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education Jeff Riley, Board of Higher Education Chairman Chris Gabrieli, Chelsea Superintendent Mary Bourque, Bunker Hill Community College President Pam Eddinger and Chelsea City Manager Tom Ambrosino.

“An important goal of the early college program is exposing students to college-level work while they are still in high school so they can envision themselves on a track toward a college degree,”Governor Charlie Baker said. “The college-level experience, combined with the credits they earn in the courses, sets many students up for success by the time they arrive on a campus.”

“Early College also provides many students with experience and knowledge in a field of study, often in STEM, that gives them some insight to make future decisions about majors and careers,”Lt. Governor Karyn Polito said. “When they get to college, students who took early college courses have a pretty good idea about what they want to study.” 
   
Since its inception six years ago, Chelsea High has grown its early college program from 20 students to 300 taking classes this year. Students can earn from 3 to 24+ college credits during their junior and senior years. Chelsea High School students can attend early college classes regardless of GPA, past academic performance or language acquisition, ensuring all students feel they can pursue college. Chelsea High was among the first to receive official designation status from the state this spring.

During the 2017-2018 school year, 294 Chelsea High School students participated in early college. Of those, 180 seniors earned a total of 1,374 college credits. One student earned 33 credits, the equivalent to a full year of college. The average number of college credits earned per graduate was eight.

“Early College is a critical way for students to become ready for college-level coursework, while at the same time earning transferrable credits that help to lighten the financial stresses many families face with college costs,” Education Secretary James Peyser said.

This past spring, the Baker-Polito Administration awarded official designation status and grant funding to nine early college programs across the state giving thousands of students the opportunity to better prepare for college. Programs that receive designation meet certain criteria, including equitable access for all students, rigorous coursework, a guided academic pathway, connection to careers, enhanced support for students and strong partnerships between high schools, community colleges and state universities.

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