DESE Celebrates Early College Program with Statewide Student Summit

State Highlights Successful Early College Program as Key Part of Reimagining High School

WORCESTER – The Healey-Driscoll Administration today celebrated the Early College Program with the statewide “Take-Off Student Summit: Your Flight to a Bright Future” hosted by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education at Worcester State University. Nearly 500 students and adults from Early College programs across the state learned how students can soar beyond the boundaries of a traditional high school education and prepare for their futures.

Last March, the Healey-Driscoll Administration launched nine new early college programs, bringing the total to 50 designated Early College program partnerships across 58 high schools and 27 higher education institutions, enrolling nearly 8,200 students across Massachusetts. Early College gives students the opportunity to take college courses and earn credits at no cost before they graduate high school, allowing them to see themselves succeeding in higher education and beyond. Over 70 percent of the programs are in high schools within Gateway Cities or Boston, and all are designed to empower students who have been historically underrepresented in higher education.

“Transformative programs like Early College expand access to higher education by providing students with the opportunity to take courses and acquire college credits at no cost, all before graduating high school,” said Governor Maura Healey. “Today’s Take-Off Student Summit brings together the educators, administrators, community partners, and students who help make this incredibly successful program a reality in school districts across the state. We hope high school students are inspired to take a serious look at the opportunities Early College presents.”

“As the former Mayor of Salem, a proud Early College community, I know how instrumental Early College programs are for students and families in these communities and how valuable they can be in providing local employers with a skilled workforce. Today’s Take-Off Student Summit encourages students to ‘take-off’ and take part in Early College as a means of achieving college and career success,” said Lieutenant Governor Kim Driscoll.

Secretary of Education Dr. Patrick Tutwiler has made “Reimagining High School” a key component of his approach to improving the traditional high school experience and creating a strong connection between classroom and career. His vision for improved high school experiences centers on redesigned learning experiences that create access points and pathways, embrace innovative opportunities for student engagement, increase class relevancy with hands-on instruction, collaborate with industry partners to provide wider access to work-based learning experiences, and expand advising to empower all Massachusetts students to make informed career and college choices. Early College, along with programs like Innovation Career Pathways, Career Technical Education (CTE), and CTE “After Dark” are critical components of this approach.

“In my previous role as superintendent in Lynn, I oversaw the creation of Massachusetts’ second largest Early College program and witnessed firsthand how beyond creating access to college courses, it also provided students in the program with the confidence to pursue higher education,” said Secretary Tutwiler. “Today’s summit serves as a reminder that any students who want to pursue a higher education – regardless of their ZIP code or economic status – can succeed if they’re given the right skills, resources, and support. Reimagining High School is all about maximizing opportunities like Early College that empower students to see themselves succeeding in the college or career of their choice.”

“We’re thrilled to convene students and adults involved in the Early College program,” said Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Jeffrey C. Riley. “We hope each participant will be inspired by their peers and today’s speakers, and we also hope today’s event will give students extra confidence to take the next steps toward their future.”

“Early College is one of the best ways to demystify the college experience for students, assure them that they belong in higher education, build college-readiness and reduce the completion time and cost of a college degree,” said Commissioner of Higher Education Noe Ortega. “The Take-Off Summit is a valuable opportunity for Early College students and leaders to collaborate, and the convening is a chance for students to learn more about the many pathways to college through Massachusetts’ Early College Initiative.”

“Early College is about helping all of these amazing young people build the capacity and confidence to fly toward their goals,” said Phylitia Jamerson, executive director of Early College. “It’s a pleasure to see everyone here today learning from each other and having fun, whether they’re students or adults.”

The Massachusetts Early College program gives students the opportunity to take college courses and earn credits at no cost before they graduate from high school. Early College allows students to get a head start on their higher education and contributes to significantly higher college enrollment and completion rates, particularly for low-income, minority and first-generation college students. In 2019, approximately 76 percent of Early College students enrolled in college after graduation compared to 55 percent of their peers who did not participate in Early College.

Learn more about how P2C can work with your school to become an Early College High School

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