FALL RIVER — Today, 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.
The Baker-Polito Administration has undertaken 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. Last month, the administration designated eight new Early College programs and awarded several grants totaling more than $1.3 million to high schools launching or expanding Early College programs.
“Early College programs help boost college enrollment for students who may not have been on a path to college, and help them succeed after graduation,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “These unique programs give students, many times first-generation students, confidence – and an advantage – on college campuses.”
“This program opens doors and creates opportunities for so many students which might not have otherwise existed for them,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. “Our administration remains committed to providing students from every corner of the Commonwealth the skills and education necessary to succeed in the classroom, workforce and beyond.”
Since its launch in 2017, the Baker-Polito Administration has strived to expand access to Early College. The Governor’s FY23 budget proposal includes $7.3 million increase for Early College funding, representing a significant increase over FY22, to bring the total annual investment to more than $18 million.
Currently, there are approximately 5,400 students enrolled in Early College courses at 50 high schools across the Commonwealth. The Executive Office of Education anticipates that approximately 8,700 students will be enrolled in Early College programs by the 2024-2025 school year.
About half of the Commonwealth’s Gateway Cities have Early College programs at their high schools, and nearly 60 percent of students enrolled in Early College come from economically disadvantaged backgrounds.
Students who participate in Early College programs 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. Early College has also been shown to boost college completion rates for low-income, minority and first-generation college students.
“Early College has created a shift in the educational experience for thousands of high school students and has shown to improve their level of engagement in their other high school courses. The majority of Early College students meet MassCore college readiness curriculum requirements while also successfully completing credit-bearing college courses,” said Education Secretary James Peyser.
B.M.C. Durfee High School received state designation for its Early College program in June 2020. Currently there are 135 students in the program, with 270 students anticipated to enroll for the 2022-2023 school year. This fall, UMass Dartmouth will become Durfee High School’s third higher education partner, along with Bridgewater State University and Bristol Community College. B.M.C. Durfee currently offers Early College pathways in Business, Health Science/Medical, Public Policy and Social Service, and Education. Next year, it will expand to offer pathways in STEM and the arts.
“Early college has proven to be a game changer for our Durfee students. It provides our students not only with access to college at no cost, but also has become the stepping-stone to opportunities for future success beyond high school. This administration’s continued investment in Early College equals an investment in the future of our students and our community,” said Fall River Public Schools Superintendent Maria Pontes.