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MARLBOROUGH — Governor Charlie Baker met with students and teachers at Marlborough High School today to hear about students’ experiences taking college-level classes to prepare for college, while earning college credits for free before graduating high school. Marlborough High School has nearly 100 students taking college-level courses.
“Increasing the number of students participating in early college courses will benefit cities and towns across the Commonwealth,” said Governor Baker. “Exposing high school students to college-level material will better prepare them for their careers after graduation and make higher education more affordable.”
“Early college programs are an important tool for combining traditional high school courses with an opportunity to earn college credit at a local community college,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito, who toured Mt. Wachusett Community College’s Early College Program in late September. “We look forward to seeing more and more Massachusetts students participate in early college classes and take advantage of the opportunity to make college more affordable.”
During the past few weeks, Governor Baker and Lt. Governor Karyn Polito visited a handful of early college programs in different parts of the state to highlight the Baker-Polito Administration’s commitment to expanding early college opportunities, as well as hear from students about the advantages of taking college classes before graduating from high school.
“The Baker-Polito Administration is committed to significantly increasing the number of students enrolled in designated early college programs across the Commonwealth,” Education Secretary James Peyser said.
Early college programs combine traditional high school classes with an opportunity to take college-level courses at a local college, typically in a particular career pathway such as STEM. Successful early college programs make college more accessible to students by giving them an opportunity to earn college credits, at no cost to them, while still in high school. Early College programs have also been found to boost college completion rates for low-income students, minorities, and first-generation college-goers. Currently, there are 2,400 Massachusetts students in an early college program - 55 percent of whom are low-income - at 27 programs throughout the Commonwealth.
“The Early College program at Marlborough High School is the launch that many of our students need to see themselves as successful in college,” Marlborough Superintendent Maureen Greulich said. “We are pleased to be able to offer these opportunities in conjunction with meaningful internship experiences and career pathway options. As always, we are grateful to the Baker-Polito Administration for their support of our innovative programs.”
The Board of Higher Education and the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education are currently reviewing applications from high schools and community colleges to become “designated” early college programs. The boards received 34 applications from high schools and community colleges around the state. In order to be designated, early college programs must meet certain criteria established by the two boards, including free to students.
Through the designation process, the Departments of Higher Education and Elementary and Secondary Education are asking K-12 schools, community colleges and state universities to jointly design models. During Fiscal Year 17, the Baker-Polito Administration committed nearly $1.2 million to support development of early college programs through grants from the Department of Higher Education.
The boards will announce designations to early college programs early next year, with the goal of enrolling students in designated programs in the 2018-2019 academic year.
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