State House Forum Brings to Life the Power of Early College

Event Recap

MassINC unveiled new research on Early College high schools last Thursday, June 6th, at a State House forum. Our new report showcases data from two independent randomized controlled trials suggesting Early Colleges have demonstrated 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. No other known intervention to increase college completion delivers a benefit of this magnitude.

Eye opening results for policy wonks, but dry facts and figures like these actually undersell the true value of Early College, as described by over 100 students and educators from nearly two dozen high schools, who traveled to the State House from across the state to provide powerful testimonials.

During a luncheon with legislators prior to the public forum, students rose one after another to share their experiences. Many proudly announced that they were graduating high school this month with an associate’s degree. Over and over again, they told us that they would continue on in pursuit of their four-year degrees, confident that they were far better prepared than those on campus for the first time. And several spoke about carefully laid career plans and how their Early Colleges helped them devise strategies to achieve these aspirations.

The educators accompanying the students shared their conviction that Early College works, noting how they have seen firsthand students rising to the challenge of far more rigorous college-level classes when the coursework has more immediate relevance and value and the students are fully supported.

In opening remarks, Representative Liz Miranda set a similar tone for the public forum by sharing her personal experience with early exposure to college as a high school student in Boston. Jeff Riley, Commissioner of Elementary & Secondary Education, and Lane Glenn, President of Northern Essex Community College provided a call to action, urging everyone to support Early College expansion and the funding required to scale and sustain quality programs. Senator Barry Feingold noted the collaborative efforts of these two leaders, who together established one of the state’s largest Early Colleges at Lawrence High School.

These opening remarks were followed by a panel discussion, including Nuri Chandler Smith, Dean of Academic Support & College Pathways at Bunker Hill Community College; William Thomas, Principal of Charlestown High School; and three students: Melanie Sola from Madison Park Technical Vocational High School, Dominick Garcia from Holyoke High School, and Warren Pimentel from Salem High School.

Please follow the links to view pictures from the day, watch the conversation, and download the research report. Many thanks to the Smith Family Foundation for providing generous financial support to make this research and convening possible, Generation Citizen and the Rennie Center for briefing the students on education policymaking, and a very special thank you to all of the students and educators who traveled from far and wide to join us.

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