Saugus schools to partner with NSCC for a college program

By Oksana Kotkina | March 31, 2022 | Lynn Item


SAUGUS — The high school, in partnership with North Shore Community College, became one of five schools in the state to receive $150,000 in grant funding for early-college program development from the Baker-Polito administration. 

These five schools will use the funding to develop large-scale, early-college programs to serve a minimum of 400 students per school.

“This is the program that can really benefit a great number of our students,” said Saugus Middle-High School Principal Brendon Sullivan. “We will be using that grant funding to help us develop a robust early-college program, a large-scale one for our school.” 

He mentioned that North Shore Community College (NSCC) has already received a grant to provide the college with the funds to work with these schools.

The school grant will be used to “build not only the relationships with NSCC, but clear pathways for our students so that they can accumulate credits that they can apply towards college when they get out,” said Sullivan. 

“We are working hard to make sure we get as many students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds involved, to get as many first-generation students as possible,” he added. 

He further mentioned that the school is trying to make sure that all of its students are equitably represented. 

Participation in the college-level classes is free of charge, as well as the study materials and some of the transportation to the NSCC campus. The credits are applicable both at high school and, later, at college. Representatives from the college will help the school recruit the students and sign them up for classes. Students will also take a placement test to make sure they qualify with NSCC standards. 

The principal also said that the aim of the program is to make sure that it has longevity and that the students are not “just taking random classes.” Thus, the school is also trying to build a system where students will start to prepare for early-college classes at high school when they are still in middle school.

The first two dual-degree classes will start in fall and will be introductions to college classes and public speaking, respectively. 

“This fall we are looking for at least 30-50 students to be involved,” said Sullivan. 

In the long term, the principal said, he wanted all his high-school students to get that level of rigor. 

“Our next level would be 100 percent of the school participation,” said Susan Terban, director of curriculum, assessment and accountability at Saugus Public Schools. “Our vision is to build an early-college academy.” 

This new “immersive, early-college” model will provide the students with an opportunity to earn a minimum of 30 college credits prior to graduating high school, according to a statement issued by the state Executive Office of Education.

“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 Gov. Charlie Baker in a statement. 

The governor’s fiscal year 2023 budget proposal includes $7.3 million for early-college funding, representing a significant increase over FY22. 

“Our administration aims to break down barriers that persist between high school and higher education,” said Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito.

Data shows that 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, the Executive Office of Education said.

The Executive Office of Education anticipates that approximately 8,700 students will be enrolled in early-college programs by the 2024-25 school year through these grants. Currently, there are approximately 5,400 students enrolled in early-college courses at 50 high schools across the commonwealth.

All in all, the Baker-Polito administration announced eight newly-designated early-college programs and awarded grants totaling more than $1.3 million to high schools launching or expanding their early-college programs.


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