NSCC, LPS Receive State Early College Designation
Building on an existing seven-year partnership, North Shore Community College and Lynn Public Schools have been approved as a Designated MA Early College program by the Massachusetts Departments of Elementary & Secondary and Higher Education.
The designation recognizes the work the two organizations have done to expose high school students to college coursework and instill dreams of achieving a college education, and positions them to expand their work to offering college classes taught during the school day at all four of Lynn’s public schools.
Early college programs combine 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 a minimum of 12 college credits – equivalent to one semester - for free. By creating designated early college programs, the Baker-Polito Administration aims to break down barriers between high school and higher education to create a more seamless path for students to move to college and careers.
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.
“This is an important step recognizing a critical partnership between the Lynn district and NSCC to improve access to and rates of completion in higher education for the City of Lynn,” said NSCC President Patricia A. Gentile. “Our Early College partnership provides expanded opportunity for Lynn high school students, particularly first-generation and those who are traditionally under-represented in postsecondary education, to enroll in college courses, to develop a deeper understanding of the college experience, enjoy significant cost savings and get a jumpstart on their college degree.
Early college high schools combine the traditional high school experience with the opportunity to earn significant college credit on an intentional academic and career pathway, in a rigorous, highly supportive environment.
Applications will be open to all interested LPS high school students. The program will include course offerings at the high school and the college with hybrid modality during the school day to ensure that the broadest number of students can participate in the program unburdened by transportation or scheduling logistics.
Early College will begin for the majority of interested students in the 9th grade and continue through senior year to engage students in thinking about their college aspirations and allow students to take college credit courses earlier in their high school experience. LPS and NSCC will work together to customize early college programming at each high school as each high school has a different schedule structure. By adding access to college courses during the high school day, this new model opens access at the high schools while maintaining options for students to take courses at the college, visit the college for workshops and events, while maintaining the benefit of the college experience and use of college academic and student support services.
The ECD designation comes with a $140,000 implementation grant. In addition, a recent $600,000 award from the Richard and Susan Smith Family Foundation affirms the potential for the NSCC/LPS Early College partnership to move the needle on increasing college access for high school students and will provide the resources to allow the partners to move from theory to practice.
“The Early College partnership between NSCC and LPS reflects an exemplary collaboration over many years, which will only become more effective in serving a greater number of students well in years to come,” said Lynn Public Schools Superintendent Patrick Tutwiler. “We have learned over the years of working together that Early College is a win-win proposition. We have had tremendous results with students completing one to two years of college while also securing their high school degrees. We appreciate the vote of confidence from the Baker administration and their belief that early college programs can achieve three of their top goals: increasing student completion rates, narrowing outcome gaps across socioeconomic differences, and increasing the number of graduates of our system.”
He continued, “We'll be spending this summer and fall recruiting and preparing students for this structured program of guided academic pathways and career exploration. We are excited about expanding the partnership between Lynn Public Schools and NSCC.”
MassINC released a study that found that Early College programs have demonstrated the ability to double post-secondary degree completion among low-income high school students. Based on these strong results, rigorous cost-benefit analysis finds Early College delivers a return on investment of 15-to-1. That means for every $1 invested by the state, we all get a $15 benefit in return. No other known intervention to increase college completion delivers a benefit of this magnitude.
In the letter announcing the designation, Carlos E. Santiago, Ph.D., Commissioner of Higher Education and Jeffrey C. Riley, Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education, wrote, “Together with the Early College Joint Committee, we thank you for your engagement with this process and your demonstrated commitment to your students’ postsecondary enrollment, persistence and completion. We are confident that your program design will offer students a transformative experience to thrive academically and beyond. We congratulate this achievement, particularly given the rigor of the established criteria and the extensive requirements of the application.”