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Early College Program News

Baker-Polito Administration Highlights Success of Early College at B.M.C. Durfee High School in Falls River


On Monday, April 25, Governor Charlie Baker, and Lt. Governor Karyn Polito joined Education Secretary James Peyser to visit with high school students and teachers at B.M.C. Durfee High School and participate in a roundtable discussion to highlight the success of its Early College program. 

Click HERE to read the complete press release.

Baker-Polito Administration Announces New Early College Programs and Awards More Than $1.3 Million in Grants 


Eight high schools received official designation to launch new programs and fourteen school districts awarded grants to boost student enrollment 

BOSTON – The Baker-Polito Administration today announced eight new early college programs and awarded several grants totaling more than $1.3 million to high schools launching or expanding early college programs as part of a statewide effort to substantially increase the number of high school students who take college courses and earn college credits at no cost before they graduate high school. Through these newly awarded designations and grants, the Executive Office of Education anticipates that approximately 8,700 students will be enrolled in early college programs by the 2024-2025 school year. Early college programs combine traditional high school courses with an opportunity to earn college credit at a college or university. Currently, there are approximately 5,400 students enrolled in early college courses at 50 high schools across the Commonwealth. “Early college is an invaluable tool that supports increased college enrollment among participating students, particularly students from groups historically underrepresented in higher education, and helps them succeed once they arrive on campus,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Today’s announcement will boost participation rates at schools that already have programs, as well as launch new and exciting programs that will create more pathways to college.” Since its launch in 2017, the Baker-Polito Administration has strived to expand access to early college programs. The Governor’s FY23 budget proposal includes $7.3 million for early college funding, representing a significant increase over FY22, to bring the total annual investment to more than $18 million. “The more communities that launch early college programs, particularly in our Gateway Cities, the more we can provide opportunities to students that help close achievement and workforce gaps,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. “By creating and supplementing designated early college programs with our municipal partners, our administration aims to break down barriers that persist between high school and higher education.” Eight high schools and their higher education partners were awarded official designation status this month by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and the Department of Higher Education to launch new early college programs. “Successful early college programs create a coherent course of study that can change the trajectory of a student’s life,” said Education Secretary James Peyser. “By designating these early college programs, we are creating a shift in the educational experience for thousands of students.” The majority of students who participate in early college programs meet MassCore college readiness curriculum requirements while also successfully completing credit-bearing college courses. Early college has also been shown to boost college completion rates for low-income, minority and first-generation college students. Early college students enroll in college at significantly higher rates than their high school peers. For example, 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. “As part of the intra-agency early college collaboration, the Board and Department of Higher Education has approached this effort, as with all our work, from an empirically-based policy analysis frame,” said Department of Higher Education Commissioner Carlos Santiago. “We are therefore pleased with early data showing that designated Massachusetts early college programs have prioritized and demonstrated progress in raising college-going rates and matriculation for students of color and low-income students, who continue to confront the highest barriers to higher education.” “It’s wonderful to see additional and expanded designated early college programs everywhere from the Berkshires to the coast,” said Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Jeffrey C. Riley. “These programs are a great opportunity for students to see that they’re capable of college-level work and take their first steps on that path.” The newly designated programs are:

  • Fenway High School in partnership with Wentworth Institute of Technology
  • Mt. Everett Regional High School in partnership with Bard College at Simon’s Rock
  • Narragansett Regional High School in partnership with Mt. Wachusett Community College and Fitchburg State University
  • New Mission High School in partnership with Wentworth Institute of Technology
  • Argosy Collegiate Charter School in Fall River in partnership with Bristol Community College
  • Cambridge Rindge & Latin School in Cambridge in partnership with Lesley University
  • Essex North Shore Agricultural & Technical School in partnership with North Shore Community College
  • New Bedford High School in partnership with Bristol Community College

In addition, five high schools and their college partners were awarded a total of $750,000 to create early college programs that are large-scale, with at least 400 students or the whole school participating. This new “immersive early college” model will provide students with an opportunity to earn a minimum of 30 college credits prior to graduating high school. Each of the following schools received $150,000 in grant funding:

  • Drury High School in North Adams in partnership with Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts
  • Saugus High School in partnership with Northern Essex Community College
  • Mt. Everett High School in Sheffield in partnership with Bard College at Simon’s Rock
  • Veritas Prep Springfield in partnership with Springfield Technical Community College and Westfield State University
  • Claremont Academy in Worcester in partnership with Quinsigamond Community College and Worcester State University

Additionally, nine schools were awarded expansion grants, totaling more than $650,000, to support their existing early college programs and boost the number of students enrolled, particularly those underrepresented in higher education. The grantees include:

  • Durfee High School in Fall River in partnership with Bristol Community College – $75,000
  • Framingham High School in partnership with Framingham State and Mass Bay Community College – $75,000
  • Marlborough High School in partnership with Quinsigamond Community College – $59,000
  • Lawrence Public Schools in partnership with Northern Essex Community College – $75,000
  • Lowell High School in partnership with Middlesex Community College – $75,000
  • Salem High School in partnership with Salem State University – $75,000
  • Worcester Public Schools in partnership with Quinsigamond Community College and Worcester State University – $75,000
  • Haverhill High School in partnership with Northern Essex Community College – $75,000
  • Holyoke High School in partnership with Holyoke Community College – $75,000

ECHS Pathway Symposium in Quincy

Quincy Public Schools in collaboration with Quincy College hosted its first ECHS Pathway Symposium on Thursday, February 10, at the Boston Marriott Quincy.  ECHS students and staff celebrated and reflected on the launch of Quincy’s ECHS Pathway Initiative.  The symposium focused on collaboration and discussion through engaging workshops to enrich and improve the future of Quincy’s ECHS Pathway Initiative. Grade 12 students, attending the symposium, were surprised with a full tuition scholarship at Quincy College for the 2022-2023 academic school year, presented by Dr. Richard DeCristofaro, President of Quincy College. To view Quincy’s ECHS Pathway Symposium Program Booklet, click HERE.

Play Video

Report: Early College High School Is Changing Students’ Lives and Futures in Lawrence, Massachusetts 

See the recent report released by Job for the Future on the Early College Program in Lawrence.

Early College Promise Video

View the video shared at the September 15 Early College Joint Committee Meeting to hear students talking about the Early College Promise Program.

Enhancing the Impact of the Build Back Better Act: Integrating College in High School Programs

The College in High School Alliance shared a set of recommendations that were released by a group of national advocates September 14, 2021 on ways in which college in high school programs like dual enrollment and early college can be integrated into President Biden’s American Families Plan and the funding package Democrats are currently considering in the House and Senate to implement it.

The primary recommendations by the groups – including the Alliance for Excellent Education, Education Reform Now, Empower Schools, JFF, KnowledgeWorks, NACEP, and Unidos US – are to:

  1. Include dual enrollment programs in plans to offer two years of free community college..
  2. Increase college retention and completion rates.
  3. Help current teachers earn in-demand credentials.

The House and Senate are currently in the middle of assembling their funding packages, and will be using a congressional procedure known as “reconciliation” to pass a number of President Biden’s priorities using only Democratic votes.

Alliance for Excellent Education (All4Ed) . (2021). Enhancing the impact of the build back better act integrating college in high school programs. Alliance For Excellent Education. Retrieved September 14, 2021, from

Highlighting the Importance and Success of Early College Programs in Massachusetts

Several recent publications highlight the importance and success of early college programs in Massachusetts:

Early College as a Force for Equity in the Post-Pandemic Era

In this Discussion Paper published by MassINC in April 2021, a strong case is made for a major effort to expand access to Early College. As stated in the introduction, “Leaders in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors have unanimously come out in favor of bold change to combat structural inequality in our post-pandemic commonwealth. Any meaningful response to this call to action must target wide and growing college completion gaps.”

Click HERE to access the report. 

Early College in the News

Early College a Proven Winner for Students, State: Massachusetts Should Consider Scaling Up the Initiative

Early college programs, in which high school students take college courses that offer credit toward both a high school diploma and a college degree, present a scalable education model that meets the needs of historically underserved young people by leveraging the assets of our state’s higher education system. These programs ultimately reduce the time and cost of degree completion while giving young people the confidence to succeed in college.

Read the February 21 article by Jennifer Davis Carey and Chris Gabriele in the Commonwealth Magazine by clicking HERE.

Early College Catching On, But Not Immune from Pandemic Impacts

BOSTON (SHNS) – Enrollment in early college programs in Massachusetts has continually increased over the past three years, even while the COVID-19 pandemic has thrown many teenagers’ post-high school planning into flux.

Data presented to state education officials Thursday showed a total of 2,864 students enrolled in early college programs in 2021, up from 2,512 last year and 1,140 in 2019.

Read the February 18 article by Katie Lannan, State House News Service, by clicking HERE.

Merrimack’s Early College Program Expands Opportunities for Underserved Students

Merrimack College’s Early College program offers educational opportunities to students attending Lawrence High School.

Merrimack is one of 19 colleges and universities in Massachusetts offering disadvantaged high-school students the opportunity to earn free college credits while still in high school. These programs work to address educational equity and economic recovery.

Read the February 19 article in The Beacon, Merrimack’s student-run news organization by  HERE.

New WWC Webinar: Evidence-based instructional practices for in-person and remote learning

The What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) just released a pre-recorded webinar on how the WWC practice guides and other resources can support educators in using evidence-based instructional practices for instruction in any setting, including remote learning. During the COVID-19 pandemic, educators are facing an unprecedented situation with many schools delivering some or all instruction remotely. WWC resources like practice guides remain relevant to educators even as the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way instruction is delivered.

This webinar includes the following:

  • An overview of WWC practice guides, including their structure and content, and supplemental resources drawn from practice guides, such as instructional tips for educators, tips for parents and caregivers, practice guide summaries, and infographics
  • A discussion of evidence-based practices in the practice guides that can be adapted for a remote learning setting, drawing on examples from five new WWC infographics on remote instruction in math, reading, and writing in elementary and secondary classrooms

Given the heightened demands on educators’ time this school year, the webinar has been prerecorded so it is available to listen to when convenient. The webinar is available on the WWC website:

Additional resources (such as the full library of practice guides and five recent infographics on using evidence-based practices in remote learning settings) are also available for free on the WWC website.

The Institute of Education Sciences, a part of the U.S. Department of Education, is the nation’s leading source for rigorous, independent education research, evaluation and statistics.


Five-part Webinar series on Pre-Employment Transition Services

You are invited to the 5 part Webinar series on Pre-Employment Transition Services hosted by The Workforce Innovation Technical Assistance Center (WINTAC), and The National Transition Technical Assistance Center (NTACT):

This series of pre-recorded webinars highlights the five required pre-employment transition services. Each of the five webinars include curricula/activities, state spotlights, examples of expected outcomes and ways to identify student progress, tips for successful service delivery, and additional supports and resources that may be used to provide these services for students with disabilities. The webinars are hosted by The Workforce Innovation Technical Assistance Center (WINTAC), and The National Transition Technical Assistance Center (NTACT).

Closed Captioning will stream during each of the pre-recorded webinars. A copy of the transcript is also available upon request. Presentation materials are available for download once registered. Please be sure to complete the evaluation located in the Web links pod in the Adobe room. CRC credits (1.5) will be awarded upon completion and submission of your evaluation.

To register and view this recorded webinar, please visit the following link(s) to each webinar:

Admissions Officers Should Look at Career and Technical High Schools

“Career and Technical high school students make great college students,” write early college colleagues, Tia Gerber and Russ Olwell. Their article, recently featured in Inside Higher Ed, highlights vocational education and the direct links to higher education. Alyssa Davis, alumna, is a co-writer.

Tia Gerber currently serves as the Director of Community Partnerships at Whittier Regional Vocational Technical High School.

Russ Olwell is the Associate Dean of Education and Social Policy at Merrimack College.

Thank you for joining us for the Summer Leadership Series. If you missed any sessions, view the videos and PowerPoint presentations by clicking links below.

Early College High School/Dual Enrollment 2.0: Evidence-Based Approaches to Engage Youth and Families for Educational, Career, and Community Development

Using an evidence-based approach, programs being launched now by colleges and universities focus on the core missions of early college and dual enrollment programs, connecting youth less likely to attend college directly out of high school with powerful programming that propels them towards successful completion of degrees and to the start of their career. This article presents perspectives from a range of institutions (high school, two-year institutions, four-year institutions, and philanthropic investors) that are rethinking these models to maximize community impact and affordability to students and families.  This is based on experience in Massachusetts statewide, as well as at Merrimack College and at Bristol Community College. The journal was very interested in Massachusetts’ efforts in this area, and in the efforts to create a truly equitable system for early college from the start!

DESE Initial Fall School Reopening Guidance

DESE is providing initial guidance for school reopening this fall that prioritizes getting students back to school in person—safely, following a comprehensive set of health and safety requirements. At the same time, DESE is requiring each district and school to also plan for remote learning and a hybrid school model, a combination of in-person and remote learning, should local conditions change this fall or winter.

Respond. ReImagine. Restart. ASCD Conference

ASCD’s Annual Conference will be held virtually this year and it’s FREE to attend! Join thousands of your peers to discuss strategies and solutions for the challenges educators will face in the 2020-2021 school year. 

Communication Regarding Hybrid Models

Since the initial pause on hybrid delivery took place, the world has undergone a dramatic transformation involving remote learning.  Given the unexpected experience our programs have had to develop around online delivery and support of college credits to high school students, please read the statement regarding hybrid programs and designation. 


Upcoming Webinar

The College in High School Alliance (CHSA) and State Higher Education Exective Officers Association (SHEEO) invite you to participate in a webinar examining dual enrollment funding models in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Thinking Ahead: Designing State Dual Enrollment Funding Models Following COVID-19      Presented by: SHEEO, NACEP, and College in High School Alliance  – June 10, 2020 | 1:00 pm EST 

Salute to Early College Students

An editorial by Nancy Hoffman, Senior Advisor with Jobs for the Future (JFF), saluting early college students in Massachusetts was published by The Boston Globe on Friday. June 5, 2020.

Free Virtual Conference

Jobs for the Future’s Annual Conference will be held virtually this year from June 8-11. Free of charge, visit the homepage for the Horizons: Designing a Future That Works Conference to register and sign up for sessions of interest.