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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

Duration

2017 – Present

Funding

 

Related Data

 

 

Target Populations
  • First-Generation
  • POC
  • Low-Income
DHE Responsibilities
  • Readiness
  • Participation
  • Access
  • Completion
  • Early College
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

  • Students work together outside

    MA Education Boards Prioritize Early College, Establish Early College Joint Committee

    Decision follows the release of report highlighting early college high schools as a means of improving college access and postsecondary completion

    Bridgewater, MA – January 24, 2017 – Today the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) and Board of Higher Education (BHE) voted unanimously to adopt a joint resolution to prioritize and advance the early college efforts in Massachusetts, including the creation of an Early College Joint Committee. Early college high schools are schools that combine the traditional high school experience with the opportunity to earn significant college credit on an intentional pathway in a rigorous, highly supportive environment.

    The Boards affirmed their shared commitment to helping students attain the knowledge, skills and abilities needed to succeed in college and careers, be engaged citizens and lead productive and fulfilling lives. The Boards recognized that early college programs that allow high school students to experience and complete college level academic work and reduce the time and expense of earning a college credential can be a powerful tool to achieve the Commonwealth’s overall goals for educational achievement.

    “The joint resolution adopted by the boards today is part of the Baker-Polito Administration’s larger strategic efforts to strengthen career pathways, including more opportunities for students to engage in early college programs, and to ensure students are on a path to succeed in school, in their careers, and in life,” said Secretary of Education Jim Peyser. “Today the members of both boards expressed our appreciation to Parthenon-EY and the Barr Foundation, the members of the Steering Committee, and the Working Group, and look forward to the Early College Joint Committee’s recommendations in helping us build a scalable statewide early college initiative.”

    “For all students, particularly first-generation and those traditionally underrepresented in postsecondary education, early college is an opportunity to engage in college-level work, develop a deeper understanding of the college experience, and get a jumpstart on their college degree,” said Chris Gabrieli, Chairman of the Board of Higher Education. “We are pleased to work with schools and communities to help create new programs to support students in early college and through high-quality career pathways by 2018.”

    “We are proud that local school districts, postsecondary institutions, and non-profit organizations across the Commonwealth have pioneered early college models and promoted their expansion for many years,” said Paul Sagan, Chairman of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. “Early college programs can help improve high school graduation and college completion rates, and allow students an opportunity to experience career-related activities in a high-demand field or industry.”

    “Massachusetts has traditionally focused on high performance and academic standards, and I am thrilled that we are now also addressing at a statewide level how high skills apply to a variety of careers,” said Nancy Hoffman, Senior Advisor, Jobs for the Future, and Chair of the Board of Higher Education’s Academic Affairs Committee. “We’ve learned lessons from around the country and are now able to build best-in-class early college programming.”

    The joint resolution approved today established a 5-member Early College Joint Committee comprising the chairs of the BESE and BHE or their designees, an additional member of each board designated by the chairs, and the Secretary of Education, to oversee the development of a process for designating Massachusetts Early College Schools, working with both commissioners and departments to develop a process for reviewing, approving, overseeing, and evaluating applicants for the new designation as well as helping to guide the growth of the effort. A full proposal will be brought back to both boards for final approval by June 30, 2017.

    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 Massachusetts Early College Schools. In January 2016, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education and Board of Higher Education met together to discuss the topic of early college programming and to better understand the entire spectrum of early college models found throughout the Commonwealth. One result of the meeting was a joint expression of interest from BESE and BHE to further explore the early college landscape in Massachusetts. Through the support of the Barr Foundation and partnership with Parthenon-EY, a joint steering committee and working group was charged with exploring the role that early college pathways could play in helping improve college access and postsecondary completion in Massachusetts.

    Parthenon-EY presented their initial findings to BHE in September 2016 followed by a presentation at the BESE’s December 20, 2016 meeting. The report, entitled Breaking Down Silos to Put Students on the Path to Success: The Promise of Early College in Massachusetts, was also discussed at today’s joint board meeting. The Parthenon-EY report highlights a number of advantages to the state’s use of early college high schools as a means of improving college access and postsecondary completion, particularly for first-generation college students, including the strategy’s alignment with state goals, the strong foundation of local early college programs, and the ability to achieve improved outcomes at reasonable costs.

    This effort is consistent with a broader parallel initiative to define and develop high quality career pathways, for which the Commonwealth has just received a $2 million grant from the Council of Chief State School Officers and JP Morgan Chase.

  • Massachusetts Early College Initiative

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

    In May 2018, 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 A&A with Chris Gabrieli

Early College Designation Application Process and Timeline

AY2021-2022 *Accelerated Designation – For Enrollment Fall 2021

In response to the Covid 19 pandemic, the regular Designation process for the AY2020-2021 year was paused. This process is now open for applicant programs that have been able to finalize planning despite the challenges this year has presented to partnerships.

This two-part Designation application cycle is premised on the same Designation criteria as the regular Designation process, with an accelerated timeline and some specific program eligibility requirements. Applicants should be fully prepared to recruit students this spring to participate in an Early College program at the start of Fall 2021. For applicants who are in midst of planning or forming programs, the regular Designation process will reopen this spring (see schedule).

The two parts of the application, and the specific requirements to meet accelerated Designation are available here:

Please be advised that applications that do not meet these requirements, and those outlined within the application, will be deferred to the FY22 Designation cycle.

  • February 22, 2021 – Part A and Part B released
  • February 26, 2021 Accelerated Designation information webinar to be held. Register here to attend.
  • April 26, 2021 – Part A and Part B Accelerated Designation Surveys Due (Please note, review of the Part B Application is contingent upon approval of the submitted Part A application.)
  • June 2021 – Accelerated Designation recommendations reviewed by the Early College Joint Committee

*Please note that programs approved in the Accelerated Designation process will receive funding in FY22 following the ECJC funding policies for currently designated programs.

FY22 Early College Program Designation
For Program Implementation and Enrollment Fall 2022

The Commonwealth is pleased to 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, program designation will entail a two-step process ("Part A" and "Part B"), as follows:

  • April 14, 2021 – Early College Spring Convening, including information session on applying for AY22 Designation. To access more information and register, click here.
  • May 3, 2021 – Part A Posted
  • Summer, 2021 (Dates TBD) - Office hours and individualized technical assistance available
  • August 27, 2021 - Part A Applications Due
  • October 2021 – Announcement of Applicants advancing to Part B
  • December 15, 2021 – Part B Applications due
  • February 2022- Review of Part B Applications
  • March 16, 2022 Designation recommendations reviewed by the Early College Joint Committee

Additional Resource: NS4Ed, in partnership with the MA Early College staff, has created an online resource site for our community of practice. Anyone interested in accessing this site can request the password from Rebekah Barr at Rebekah.Barr@mass.gov

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 February 2021, there are 19 IHEs and 35 high schools designated across 23 programs.

Partnerships with Official Designation
Institutions of Higher Education Partner(s) District (High School)/Charter School Partner(s) Designation Date
1 Bunker Hill Community College Boston Public Schools (Charlestown High School) April 2018
2 Bunker Hill Community College Chelsea Public Schools (Chelsea High School) April 2018
3 Holyoke Community College Holyoke Public Schools (Holyoke High School) April 2018
4 Massasoit Community College New Heights Charter School of Brockton April 2018
5 Salem State University Salem Public Schools
(Salem High School, New Liberty Innovation School, and Salem Preparatory School)
April 2018
6 Merrimack College Lawrence Public Schools (Lawrence High School) August 2018
7 Northern Essex Community College Lawrence Public Schools (Lawrence High School) August 2018
8 Westfield State University
  • 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 no longer participating
August 2018
9 Worcester State University and Quinsigamond Community College Worcester Public Schools
(Burncoat Senior High, Claremont Academy, Doherty Memorial High, North High, South High Community, University Park Campus, and Worcester Technical High)
August 2018
10 Middlesex Community College Lowell Public Schools (Lowell High School) January 2019
11 Middlesex Community College Nashoba Valley Technical High School January 2019
12 Fitchburg State University and Mt. Wachusett Community College
  • 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
April 2019
13 Framingham State University and MassBay Community College Framingham Public Schools (Framingham High School)
Milford Public Schools (Milford High School)
April 2019
14 Northern Essex Community College Haverhill Public Schools (Haverhill High School) April 2019
15 North Shore Community College Lynn Public Schools
(Lynn Classical High School, Lynn English High School, Lynn Vocational Technical Institute, and Fecteau Leary Alternative High School)
April 2019
16 Quinsigamond Community College Marlborough Public Schools (Marlborough High School) April 2019
17 Bunker Hill Community College Boston (Madison Park Technical Vocational High School) April 2019
18 Cambridge College Somerville High School (Somerville Public Schools) April 2019
19 Salem State University Lynn English High School (Lynn Public Schools) April 2019
20 Salem State University Lynn Classical High School (Lynn Public Schools) April 2019
21 Greenfield Community College Hopkins Academy (Hadley Public Schools) April 2019
22 Bristol Community College Durfee High School (Fall River Public Schools) April 2019
23 Bridgewater State University Durfee High School (Fall River Public Schools) April 2019