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Nature


Strategic Initiatives

Massachusetts Early College Initiative

Overview

The purpose of the Early College Initiative is create and maintain partnerships connecting our state’s districts and high schools with our state’s colleges. in order to give thousands of Massachusetts students, especially first-generation college-goers, access to college completion and career success.

Contact

Christine Williams
Director of Strategic Initiatives,
Academic Affairs and Student Success
(617) 994-6911
cwilliams@dhe.mass.edu

Dr. Kristin Hunt
Early College Program Director
(781) 338-3110
Kristin.E.Hunt@mass.gov

Duration

2017 – Present

Funding

 

Related Data

 

 

Student Identities
Partnerships

Department of Elementary & Secondary Education

Background

The vision of the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education (BHE) and Board of Elementary & Secondary Education (BESE) is for growth and sustainability of high-quality early college partnerships connecting our state’s districts and high schools with our state’s colleges. These partnerships will all be aimed at giving thousands of Massachusetts students, especially first-generation college-goers, access to college completion and career success.

Featured

  • Massassoit students

    Early College Students Show Strong Gains in College Enrollment

    August 2020 – Black, Latinx Students in Early College Attend College at Higher Rates than State and School Peers

    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.

  • Bunker Hill CC Students

    Baker-Polito Administration Designates New Early College Programs

    June 2019 – Programs at thirteen high schools and eight public colleges across the Commonwealth received designation

    Governor Charlie Baker awarded designation to early college programs at 13 high schools and eight public colleges across the Commonwealth that will enroll thousands of students next fall, giving them opportunities to study in college-level courses and earn credits before they graduate high school.

    Governor Baker and Education Secretary James Peyser made the announcement during an event at Bunker Hill Community College, organized to recognize the high schools and colleges that have launched programs designated by the state this school year.

    With the new awards, there are 35 high schools and 18 colleges in Massachusetts with designated early college programs. Early college programs combine traditional high school classes with college courses through a local college or university to give students knowledge and exposure to an area of study, while earning up to 12 college credits – equivalent to one semester-- for free. By creating designated early college programs, the Baker-Polito Administration aims to break down barriers between high school and higher education to create a more seamless path for students to move to college and careers.

  • Massachusetts Early College Initiative

    Baker-Polito Administration designates four more early college programs to give students a head start

    July 2018 – In May, the Administration granted official designation status, for the first time, to five programs. Four more programs were designated in July 2018.

    BOSTON — The Baker-Polito Administration today gave official designation to four additional early college programs that will help high school students prepare for college academics, while earning college credits at no cost to them. The four new programs – at public high schools in Lawrence, Holyoke, Westfield, Springfield, and Worcester – will bring the statewide total to nine and enroll thousands of students this fall to study in a particular field that interests them.

    Early college programs combine traditional high school classes with college courses through a local public college or university to give students knowledge and exposure to an area of study, while earning up to 12 college credits – equivalent to one semester ­- for free. Early college boosts college completion rates for low-income students, minority students, and first-generation college-goers by exposing students to college-level work and different career pathways before they graduate high school. The college courses are designed to fulfill high school graduation requirements and award college credit.

    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.  In May, the Administration granted official designation status, for the first time, to five programs.

    "Boosting the number of early college programs in the Commonwealth is a priority for our administration that will provide more students with an opportunity to attend and complete college,” Governor Charlie Baker said. “Exposing high school students to college courses in a field that interests them, and offering college credits at no cost, willmake the transition to college easier and better prepare many students for successful careers following their education.”

Early College

Early College programs are intentionally designed to empower students traditionally underrepresented in higher education. MA Early College Designated Programs work to blend elements of high school and college to provide students with the opportunity to experience and complete college level academic coursework on a clearly articulated pathway and simultaneously gain exposure to a variety of career opportunities. Early college programs also reduce the time and expense of earning a college credential while increasing the likelihood of completion.

A Brief History of MA Early College

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 the potential for the development of Early College in Massachusetts The report confirmed that Early College is a promising model that narrows educational opportunity gaps, and that existing programs would provide a powerful base from which to build a broader statewide Early College initiative. Following these findings in January 2017, the boards of Elementary and Secondary Education and Higher Education jointly launched an initiative intended to support the expansion of Early College and establish an Early College Designation. The boards also created an Early College Joint Committee (ECJC), charged with developing the Early College Designation Process for the Commonwealth.

Early College Designation Process and Timeline — SY2022-2023

SY2022 Early College Program Designation For Program Implementation and Enrollment Fall 2023
We encourage all partnerships who are designing Early College programs who are planning to meet the Designation Criteria available above to pursue MA Early College Designation. Along with program and fiscal support, the Early College Designation Process ensures that students across the Commonwealth are receiving expanded access to higher education opportunities, especially students traditionally underrepresented in higher education institutions.

The Commonwealth is pleased to once again offer its local secondary education agencies and institutions of higher education the opportunity to obtain formal designation for Early College Programs. Designed collaboratively by the EOE, DESE, and DHE, MA Early College Program Designation will entail a two-step process ("Part A" and "Part B"). By April 13, 2022, a comprehensive designation timeline will be posted, including links to SY23 Part A application and Letter of Intent.

Early College Program Designation Application Companion Document 2022 >

This companion document is designed to provide important information on the Designation process and requirements, as well as context for the criteria to be met under each of the five Guiding Principles.

Designation Readiness Checklist >

The Early College Readiness Checklist is a resource for prospective Early College partners to guide their pre-planning for the Designation application process.

Designation Timeline
  • April 13, 2022 Part A Application and Letter of Intent available online. (Please note these links will not open and accept responses until Wednesday, April 13th, 2022).
    For more information about the components of the Application, please review the Part A Designation guidance in the Designation Companion document . You can download the Word Document of the Part A Application here.
  • April 14, 2022 – Early College Designation Orientation (note: this event will also be offered on May 4, 2022). 9:30 AM. Register here: https://www.doe.mass.edu/conference/?ConferenceID=10360
  • April 26, 2022 – Early College Spring Convening, including information session on applying for SY2023 Designation. Register here: https://survey.zohopublic.com/zs/B1BUQx
  • May 4, 2022 – Early College Designation Orientation (note: this event was also offered on April 14, 2022). 9:30 AM. Register here: https://www.doe.mass.edu/conference/?ConferenceID=10360
  • June 17, 2022 – “Nuts and Bolts” of Early College Designation Part A – Register here: http://www.doe.mass.edu/conference/?ConferenceID=10367
  • Summer 2022 – Office hours and individualized technical assistance available, as well as an applicant professional learning series on the Guiding Principles. Coming soon: session topics, dates, and registrations links.
  • August 2022 – Part A Applications Due
  • September 2022 – Announcement of Applicants advancing to Part B. Part B application sent directly to applicants.
  • October 2022 – Early College Designation Part B Application Webinar
  • December 2022 – Part B Applications due
  • February 2023 – Designation recommendations reviewed by the Early College Joint Committee

Additional Resource: NS4Ed, in partnership with the MA Early College staff, has created a resource site to support the Early College community of practice. Visit www.MAEarlyCollege.com to learn more.

If you are seeking additional information on Early College, please contact the Early College Program Director at Kristin.Hunt@doe.mass.edu

Please check this page regularly for updates.

Early College Joint Committee

The Early College Joint Committee is charged with designing, developing and coordinating the administration of a Massachusetts early college program based on the process and key design principles set forth in the joint resolution PDF of the Boards of Elementary & Secondary Education and Higher Education, approved at their joint meeting on January 24, 2017.

  • Chris Gabrieli, Chair, Massachusetts Board of Higher Education
  • Matt Hills, Member, Massachusetts Board of Elementary & Secondary Education
  • James Peyser, Secretary of Education
  • Katherine Craven, Chair, Massachusetts Board of Elementary & Secondary Education
  • Paul Toner, Member, Massachusetts Board of Higher Education
  • Jeff Riley, Commissioner, Massachusetts Department of Elementary & Secondary Education (non-voting)
  • Carlos Santiago, Commissioner, Massachusetts Department of Higher Education (non-voting)

Design Principles

Under the Early College Designation put forth by the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education (BHE) and Board of Elementary & Secondary Education (BESE), approved designated early college programs in Massachusetts will align with the following design principles:

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1. Equitable Access

targeting underrepresented students in higher education

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4. Connections to Career

through workplace and experiential learning experiences

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2. Academic Pathways

that are well integrated and aligned with college and career

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5. High-Quality & Deep Partnerships

between high schools and colleges

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3. Robust Student Support

in both academics and advising

Designated Early College Programs

Following a rigorous two phased application process based on the Massachusetts Early College Criteria, the Early College Joint Committee granted the first designations to five programs in May 2018. Four more programs were designated in July 2018. During the 2018-2019 school year, nearly 1,500 students enrolled in designated early college programs around the state, increasing to nearly 2,280 in the subsequent year.

In the 2021-2022 year, enrollment in designated early college programs are projected to jump to 4,000 students. As of June 2021, there are 22 IHEs and 42 high schools designated across 31 programs.

Partnerships with Official Designation
District (High School)/Charter School Partner(s) Institutions of Higher Education Partner(s) Designation Date
1 Boston Public Schools (Charlestown High School) Bunker Hill Community College) April 2018
2 Chelsea Public Schools (Chelsea High School) Bunker Hill Community College April 2018
3 Holyoke Public Schools (Holyoke High School) Holyoke Community College April 2018
4 New Heights Charter School of Brockton Massasoit Community College April 2018
5 Salem Public Schools (Salem High School) Salem State University April 2018
6 Lawrence Public Schools (Lawrence High School) Merrimack College August 2018
7 Lawrence Public Schools (Lawrence High School) Northern Essex Community College August 2018
8
  • Holyoke Public Schools (Holyoke High School)
  • Springfield Public Schools (High School of Commerce)
  • Westfield Public Schools (Westfield High School and Westfield Technical Academy)

    *Roger L Putnam Vocational Technical Academy: Originally part of this Designation, but is no longer participating
Westfield State University August 2018
9 Worcester Public Schools (Burncoat Senior High; Claremont Academy; Doherty Memorial High; North High; South High Community; University Park Campus; Worcester Technical High) Worcester State University and Quinsigamond Community College August 2018
10 Lowell Public Schools (Lowell High School) Middlesex Community College January 2019
11 Nashoba Valley Technical High School Middlesex Community College January 2019
12
  • Fitchburg Public Schools (Fitchburg High School)
  • Gardner Public Schools (Gardner High School)
  • Leominster Public Schools (Leominster High School)
    *Program also draws students from Leominster Center for Excellence and Center for Technical Education Innovation
  • Sizer School
Fitchburg State University and Mount
Wachusett Community College
April 2019
13 Framingham High School
Milford Public Schools (Milford High School)
Framingham State University and Massachusetts Bay Community College April 2019
14 Lynn Public Schools (Lynn Classical HS, Lynn English HS, Lynn Vocational Technical Institute, Fecteau Leary Alternative HS) North Shore Community College April 2019
15 Haverhill High School Northern Essex Community College April 2019
16 Marlborough High School Quinsigamond Community College April 2019
17 Boston (Madison Park Technical Vocational High School) Bunker Hill Community College April 2019
18 Somerville High School (Somerville Public Schools) Cambridge College June 2020
19 Lynn English High School (Lynn Public Schools) Salem State University June 2020
20 Lynn Classical High School (Lynn Public Schools) Salem State University June 2020
21 Hopkins Academy (Hadley Public Schools) Greenfield Community College June 2020
22 Durfee High School (Fall River Public Schools) Bristol Community College June 2020
23 Durfee High School (Fall River Public Schools) Bridgewater State University June 2020
24 NDanvers High School (Danvers Public Schools) North Shore Community College February 2021
25 Dearborn STEM Academy (Boston Public Schools) Wentworth Institute of Technology February 2021
26 Whittier Regional Vocational Technical High School Northern Essex Community College February 2021
27 Gardner Academy for Learning and Technology (Gardner Public Schools) Mt. Wachusett Community College June 2021
28 High School of Commerce (Springfield Public Schools) Springfield Technical Community College June 2021
29 North Quincy High (Quincy Public Schools) North Quincy High (Quincy Public Schools) June 2021
30 Quincy High (Quincy Public Schools) College Quincy High (Quincy Public Schools) June 2021
31 Framingham State University and Massachusetts Bay Community College Waltham High School (Waltham Public Schools) June 2021

As of SY22-23, there are 31 MA Early College Designated Programs including 22 IHEs and 42 high schools designated. (Early College Programs designated SY23-24 coming soon.)

Last Updated: March 10, 2022