By Bob Katzen
A bill before the Higher Education Committee would put the state’s Early College High School Program into state law. The program was formed administratively by the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education and the Board of Higher Education. In 2017 the two boards launched a joint initiative to establish guiding principles and designation standards for Early College High School programs.
In March 2017, Gov. Charlie Baker announced the state would make efforts to significantly increase the number of early college seats available to high school students. During the 2018-2019 school year, an estimated 1,500 students were enrolled in designated early college programs around the state. Enrollment is expected to jump to 2,280 for the 2019-2020 school year.
According to the state’s Higher Education website, “the program combines 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 offering the opportunity for high school students to earn no-cost college credits, the Early College program exposes students who are traditionally underrepresented in higher education to rigorous college coursework and boosts their chances of earning a postsecondary degree,” said Rep. Alice Peisch (D-Wellesley), the bill’s sponsor. “This bill would codify the state’s existing program to promote its expansion, placing more students on a path to college success.”