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College and Career Readiness

Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Early College High Schools

Early college high schools (ECHS) are a proven model for preparing students, especially low-income, minority, and first-generation college-goers, for postsecondary education. They provide students with a college experience and an opportunity to get a head start on earning college credits while still in high school. Given the state's need for highly skilled workers in STEM areas, Districts have been encouraged to consider developing ECHS that motivate and prepare students to explore STEM career pathways while still enrolled in high school and to pursue STEM majors in college. ECHS are designed to result in higher rates of college going for students currently underrepresented in higher education and to build an accelerated route linking secondary education with postsecondary educational opportunities. These schools are developed through agreements between high schools and postsecondary institutions.

Competitive planning and implementation grants through Race to the Top (RTTT) have been provided to the Boston Public Schools, Marlborough Public Schools, Quaboag Regional School District, Randolph Public Schools, Southeastern Regional Vocational Technical School, and Worcester Public Schools to support their efforts over a four-year period. Technical assistance on program development and implementation will be provided by Jobs for the Future (JFF) and a more coordinated effort from an Early College Designs panel will assist districts in developing policies to encourage early college experiences and dual enrollment. Several districts are also using local Race to the Top funds for Early College initiatives.

It is anticipated that successful implementation will lead to improvements in student achievement in STEM subjects and increased enrollment in STEM college majors, especially for low-income, minority, and first-generation college students.

About the Massachusetts STEM ECHS Initiative Schools

The six districts chosen in a competitive Request for Proposals process to open a STEM early college will each receive approximately $120,000 of RTTT funds to be spent over four years for school planning, start up, and full implementation. STEM early college high schools will promote postsecondary and career readiness, foster community and business engagement, and support the Commonwealth's goal of continued leadership in scientific and technological innovation

Dearborn Middle School (Boston Public Schools)
Dearborn Middle School will open a STEM early college high school in fall 2012. As a designated turnaround school, Dearborn has also been awarded a $1.2 million School Improvement Grant to help implement a comprehensive redesign plan. Northeastern University will be the institute of higher education in partnership with this STEM ECHS. More than 86% of Dearborn Middle School students are low income and over 48% are considered limited English proficient. A key to success for the school will be the sixth-grade enrollment, which will give students access to a STEM-focused curriculum early on, providing sufficient time and resources to prepare students for the rigors of a college curriculum. Boston Public Schools plans to use the Metro High School, a successful STEM early college high school in Columbus, Ohio as a model for the first STEM ECHS in Boston.

Marlborough Public Schools
The Marlborough STEM early college high school opened in fall 2011 with inaugural sixth and ninth grade classes, and will add one grade per year until full enrollment. Each grade will initially be housed at their respective buildings, the Marlborough middle and high schools and at a lab school site in future years. Partnering with Framingham State University, students will engage in a project-based curriculum and choose career pathways that incorporate dual enrollment during their junior and senior years. Students will engage in industry partnerships and opportunities derived through a partnership with the Metrowest STEM network. The Marlborough STEM early college high school will use an individual growth plan model focusing on academic and personal support and community involvement. The school will give priority access to first-generation college bound students, drawing on the district's low-income, SPED, Latino and ELL populations.

North High School (Worcester Public Schools)
The North High School STEM ECHS will open in fall 2012 in a new facility at NHS equipped with new science laboratories and instructional spaces. NHS has partnered with the College of the Holy Cross and Quinsigamond Community College. A Carnegie Foundation planning grant and a federal Smaller Learning Communities grant have helped to support the division of the high school into three successful small learning communities. The STEM ECHS will be a part of the Health Sciences Academy smaller learning community at NHS. During its first year, the school will enroll 25 seventh graders and 25 eighth graders. A class of 25 students will enroll each subsequent year until full enrollment in fall 2016. The Worcester Pipeline Collaborative, a longstanding collaborative of public schools, several local colleges, biotechnology businesses, and the UMass Medical School will help facilitate community involvement and encourage sustainability.

Randolph High School (Randolph Public Schools)
Randolph STEM early college high school will enroll 20 students in both the eleventh and twelfth grades during its first year in fall 2012. The STEM ECHS will serve all students, with a focus on underrepresented youth, first generation college goers, and English language learners. Randolph Public Schools has partnered with Massasoit Community College and hopes to offer a sequence of 10 college courses to all STEM ECHS students. Randolph will work closely with MCC along with Bridgewater State University to carefully align the STEM curriculum with that in higher education. Randolph High School has also been awarded a Nellie Mae Foundation Grant and is working with the community to restructure secondary education programs to best meet the needs of students throughout the district.

Quaboag Innovation STEM Early College High School (Quaboag Public Schools)
Quaboag Innovation STEM ECHS opened in fall 2011 with about 60 students enrolled in grades 9-12. Quaboag has received a Next Generation Learning Grant to continue planning an Innovation STEM Middle School, and believes the success of its STEM ECHS will be rooted in the early intervention in middle school programming. 38% of Quaboag's students are low income. Partnering institutions of higher education include Quinsigamond Community College and Worcester Polytechnic Institute. Courses agreements will be articulated, ultimately making available up to thirty college credits. Quaboag has also received a $15,000 planning grant from the Department of Education throught the Investing in Innovation Fund.

Massachusetts Association of Vocational Administrators (through Southeastern Regional Vocational School)
Vocational districts across the Commonwealth are collaborating to offer an early college high school program through Northeastern University. The curriculum committee at Northeastern University is working with consortium school members to develop a STEM Early College curriculum. The first cohort will have 25-30 students who will begin in fall 2012. The STEM ECHS program will offer many internship and work-based learning opportunities, taking advantage of Northeastern's large network of partners through it's cooperative program. Students will apply to participate in sophomore year; orientation will take place in August before junior years. Each school in the consortium will provide a lead coordinator to coordinate initiatives within the school and act as a liaison among the school, Northeastern, MAVA, and the coordinating committee.


Jobs for the Future's Early College Initiative
DESE has contracted with Jobs for the Future to provide technical assistance to the schools during planning and startup. Since 2002, JFF has guided and provided research and policy advocacy for the national Early College High School Initiative which currently includes 230 schools in 28 states, serving approximately 50,000 students.

Last Updated: December 28, 2011
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