Katy Abel
MA Department of Higher Education

For Immediate Release
August 26, 2020

Early College Students Show Strong Gains in College Enrollment

Black, Latinx Students in Early College Attend College at Higher Rates than State and School Peers

Boston, MA – August 26, 2020 – Massachusetts high school students who graduate from Early College programs are applying for federal financial aid and enrolling in college at significantly higher rates than their school or state peers, according to the first preliminary data analysis completed since the program began, the Baker-Polito Administration announced today. 

The Departments of Higher Education and Elementary and Secondary Education also announced today that they are awarding designations to six new early college programs scheduled to begin offering courses in fall 2020. With the new designations, there are 37 different high schools and 19 colleges and universities that have partnered to offer Early College programs to thousands of students across the Commonwealth. 

The Massachusetts Early College Initiative was launched in 2018 with state approval of an initial cohort of eight programs in high-need, low-income school districts. It gives students the opportunity to experience the rigors of college coursework and earn college credit before they graduate from high school, providing a jumpstart to college admission, supported pathways to completion of degrees and certificates, and substantial tuition savings. Enrollment is projected to hit 4,200 students in FY21, with students earning an estimated 25,000 college credits and securing tuition and fee savings estimated at $5.4 million. Two-thirds of students enrolled in early college programs identify as Black or Latinx.

Data released by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education show that high school graduates who participated in Early College programs are enrolling in college at a rate that is 20 percentage points higher than their school or state peers. Moreover, their FAFSA completion rates are 25 percentage points higher than school peers. The analysis also showed that when outcomes for Black and Latinx students enrolled in Early College were compared with peers of the same race who were not enrolled in the program, Early College students of color attended college at even higher rates. The differential between Black Early College graduates who enrolled in college and their Black school peers was 25 percentage points; a differential of 30 percentage points existed between Latinx early college program graduates and their Latinx school peers.

“While the Commonwealth performs well in many education measures, the launch and growth of Early College is an important step forward in equitable access to college for all students and a proven way to close the college degree completion gap,” said Education Secretary James Peyser.  

In August, the Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education held a virtual event on “Creating Equity in Education in the Age of COVID: New Data on Early College” during which Pierre Lucien, Policy Analyst at the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education presented the new findings.

“These are encouraging results, and I am glad that schools and community colleges continue to offer Early College opportunities to students who might be unsure about their path after high school,” said Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Jeffrey C. Riley. “State-designated Early College programs are an important way to show students that they are capable of doing college-level work.”  

“With the proviso that this is a data snapshot and not yet indicative of a sustained trend, I am cautiously optimistic about these results, especially for students of color,” said Higher Education Commissioner Carlos E. Santiago. “At a time when we see racial equity gaps widening, it is encouraging to see the impact of Early College as an effective strategy to propel Black and Latinx students to successful college completion.” 

The following new programs received designation:  

  1. Durfee High School and Bridgewater State University 
  2. Durfee High School and Bristol Community College 
  3. Hopkins Academy and Greenfield State College 
  4. Lynn Classical High School and Salem State University 
  5. Lynn English High School and Salem State University 
  6. Somerville High School and Cambridge College 

Learn more about the Massachusetts Early College Initiative


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