• This page, Baker-Polito Administration Announces Preliminary Designation Status to Early College Programs, is offered by
  • Executive Office of Education
Press Release

Press Release Baker-Polito Administration Announces Preliminary Designation Status to Early College Programs

Some schools awarded planning grants, totaling $80,000
For immediate release:
  • Executive Office of Education

Media Contact for Baker-Polito Administration Announces Preliminary Designation Status to Early College Programs

Colleen Quinn, Communications Director, Executive Office of Education

Students celebrating graduation

Boston, MA….In an effort to help high schools students prepare for success in college, the Boards of Higher Education and Elementary and Secondary Education gave “preliminary” designation status to 21 early college programs, and awarded more than $80,000 in grants to public colleges, universities and high schools in the midst of developing early college programs, the Baker-Polito Administration announced today.

The $10,000 competitive planning grants will help schools become “designated” early college programs by the Boards of Higher Education and Elementary and Secondary Education. Schools granted preliminary designation are expected to apply for final designation in February, with the goal of launching programs this fall.

“Early college programs are crucial for exposing students to the opportunities higher-education can create and with these designations, more students will be able to earn college credits at no cost,” Governor Charlie Baker said. “We are pleased to work with these school districts to expand or launch early college programs so their students are better prepared for successful academic and professional careers after high school.”

“Successful early college programs boost college completion rates for students by preparing them with challenging college-level courses,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. “We are happy to be able to offer these grants that will help create high-quality early college programs for more students across the Commonwealth.”

Early college programs combine traditional high school courses with an opportunity to earn college credit at a public college or university, typically in a particular career pathway.

Successful early college programs make college more accessible to low-income students by giving them an opportunity to learn in college-level courses while at the same time earning college credits, at no cost, which helps ease their financial burdens later. Early college has also been shown to boost college completion rates for low-income students, minorities and first-generation college-goers.

In June, 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.

“By creating designated early college programs, we are breaking down barriers between high school and higher education and creating a more seamless path for students to move to college and careers,” Education Secretary James Peyser said. “Successful early college programs do more than just prepare a student theoretically; they make students realize college is an achievable goal for them by exposing them to college-level work and college credits before they graduate high school.”

“I’m delighted to see the Commonwealth making this commitment to early college programs,” said Carlos E. Santiago, Commissioner of Higher Education. “We know that 70% of Massachusetts jobs will require today’s high school students to have some kind of post-secondary degree or certification. Early college will help us create a new pipeline to college for students who may have felt it was beyond their reach.”

"We know that early college programs help motivate students," Elementary and Secondary Education Acting Commissioner Jeff Wulfson said. "We want to lead the nation in making these programs available in our high schools."

Last March, Governor Charlie Baker announced 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.

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 preliminary approval, with some receiving planning grant awards:

  1. Bristol Community College and Fall River Public Schools – Bristol Community College is launching a new early college program with B.M.C. Durfee High School in STEM fields, health and life sciences, and legal and social studies. The program is designed to address barriers students face to college success by creating a flexible, supportive college environment with academic, socio-emotional and career supports, while instilling high expectations for achievement.
  2. Bunker Hill Community College and Charlestown High School – Awarded $10,000 – BCC and Charlestown High School have existing 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.
  3. Bunker Hill Community College and Chelsea High School – 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.
  4. Collaborative for Educational Services and Quincy College, Bunker Hill Community College, Holyoke Community College, and Urban College – The Collaborative for Educational Services works with students living in residential care through the Massachusetts Department of Youth Services. It is launching a new early college program in partnership with Quincy College, Bunker Hill Community College, Holyoke Community College and Urban College aimed at increasing high school graduation rates and easing the transition from residential care to college for these students.
  5. Fitchburg State University and Mount Wachusett Community College – Students at Fitchburg High School, Gardner High School, Leominster High School and Sizer School will begin career exploration in 9th grade, and delve more deeply into career options in 10th grade. As seniors they will select one of four career pathways, graduating with college credits, as well as courses that lead to credentialing.
  6. Framingham State University and Massachusetts Bay Community College – Awarded $10,000 – Administrators and faculty from MassBay, FSU and Framingham High School and Milford High School will encourage participation in early college courses among underrepresented students, starting with outreach in middle school. Freshman will take classes in four career pathways: business management, education, sociology and criminal justice and STEM Life Sciences.
  7. Holyoke Community College and Holyoke Public Schools – Awarded $10,000 – 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.
  8. Massasoit Community College – Massasoit is partnering with the following school districts to serve more students in its existing early college program: Easton, Hanover, Middleborough, Norton, Randolph, and Whitman-Hanson. The college aims for students to have a seamless pathway to higher education.
  9. Massasoit Community College and New Heights Charter School of Brockton - Starting in 6th grade, students will be introduced to career options and college connections. Students will create individualized learning 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.
  10. Middlesex Community College and Lowell Public Schools – Through its existing early college program with Lowell Public Schools, the college will work with students to link high school and college courses to MCC credit programs. Students will take courses that can be applied to a degree identified to suit their career aspirations. Courses taught onsite at Lowell High School will fulfill core curriculum requirements and launch students on a career trajectory.
  11. Middlesex Community College and Nashoba Valley Regional Vocational Technical High SchoolMCC and Nashoba Valley Regional Vocational Technical High School hope to expand the number of students who can participate in the existing early college program by developing concurrent enrollment courses. These courses would be taught at Nashoba Valley Tech, by Nashoba teachers who would be become adjunct faculty at MCC. Students could earn college credits without the barrier of transportation or expense of college books. The schools are developing senior level English courses, engineering and robotics.
  12. Mount Wachusett Community College and Murdock High School – By partnering with Murdock High School in Winchedon, Mount Wachusett Community College will provide opportunities for more high school students in North Central Massachusetts to earn 12 or more college credits.
  13. Northern Essex Community College – Awarded $10,000 – Northern Essex is partnering with Amesbury, Haverhill, Lawrence, Methuen high schools, as well as Pentucket Regional High School, Whittier Regional Vocational Technical High School, and Lawrence Technical School. The college will offer core courses in English, psychology, math and science for 11th grade students. Students in 12th grade will study computer science, health, engineering, or education. The program will also bring employers into classes so students can engage future career options.
  14. North Shore Community College and Lynn Public Schools – Awarded $10,000 – The college will continue its partnership with Lynn High School, in an effort to bridge the gap between high school and higher education so students have a comfort level with college before they graduate. Students can enroll in courses that link college to their career goals. Students receive academic support with tutored courses.
  15. Quincy College and West Roxbury Academy – Quincy College and the West Roxbury Academy will prepare students for college and career opportunities, with a focus on STEM fields.
  16. Quinsigamond Community College, Worcester State University and Worcester Public Schools, Awarded $10,000 – QCC and Worcester Public Schools aims to expand current early college enrollment numbers from 200 to between 2,000 to 3,000 students by fiscal year 2021. The program will involve multiple college-level courses mapped to in-demand career opportunities for the region.
  17. Salem State and Salem Public Schools – Awarded $10,000 – 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 conditionally admitted to Salem State University to continue their studies in the 12th grade and beyond.
  18. Westfield State with Holyoke, Springfield and Westfield Public SchoolsAwarded $10,000 – Students enrolled in this program, known as the Westfield Promise, will take at least two college courses, team taught by high school and college faculty. In 12th grade, students will take at least two college courses taught at Westfield State so they can become acclimated to college life, before graduating high school.
  19. Merrimack and Lawrence Public Schools – Students will study science, politics, education and liberal arts, starting in their junior year with the opportunity to earn 16 college credits by the time they graduate high school.
  20. Quinsigamond Community College and Marlborough Public Schools – Marlborough High School launched its STEM Early College program in 2011, and has since enrolled more than 650 students in grades 6 through 12. With Quinsigamond Community College, the program expanded to six STEM-based pathways in 2014, including engineering, advanced manufacturing, information technology, computer science, healthcare and biotechnology. The school hopes to expand the program once again to include career opportunities and certificate completion.
  21. Roxbury Community College, Bunker Hill Community College and RoxMAPP – Roxbury Massachusetts Advanced Post-Secondary (RoxMAPP) is an early college program between Boston Public Schools, Madison Park Technical Vocational High School, Roxbury Community College and Bunker Hill Community College. The program partners with industry to give students workplace learning opportunities. The schools plan to expand the program to put students on an expedited path to college and career success.


Media Contact for Baker-Polito Administration Announces Preliminary Designation Status to Early College Programs

Executive Office of Education 

EOE oversees early childhood education and care, elementary and middle schools, high schools, and higher education.