Promising Results for an Early-College Program

Writing for Inside Higher Ed, Madeline St. Amour reviews the Massachusetts early college program, which is turning out to be one of the strongest solutions to the state’s equity gap. Excerpts from the piece appear below:

An early-college program targeted at underrepresented students in Massachusetts is showing strong results — even during the COVID-19 pandemic.

New data on the state’s Early College Initiative show that students who enrolled in the program in high school were more likely to earn college credits while in high school, more likely to complete financial aid applications and more likely to enroll in college than their peers.

The goal of the early-college program is to help reduce the state’s education equity gaps and increase college completion  rates among students of color, first-generation college students and those from low-income backgrounds.

The state’s early-college program allows high school students to take career-oriented college classes for free and earn college credit, Matias said. They get academic and guidance supports, which many students emphasize as the most important part of their academic success, she said. Because the program doesn’t cost anything, it also reduces some of the financial burden on students and their families of paying for college.

National studies have shown that these programs can double postsecondary attainment, Matias said. The states with the best programs see a return on investment of 15 to one.

“No other postsecondary initiative comes close,” she said.

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