Massachusetts education leaders are launching what they say is a major early college initiative. Currently, only about 2 percent of the state's high school students take college courses.
In many states, these courses have improved academic outcomes for low-income and first-generation students, boosting college enrollment and retention rates.
Across the country, more than a million high school students are taking courses offered by colleges and universities for credit. But the early college movement hasn't taken hold in Massachusetts, largely due to costs.
"Massachusetts is usually the leader. And in this regard, it's been the laggard around early college,” said Nancy Hoffman, a senior adviser with the nonprofit Jobs for the Future.
The state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) and Board of Higher Education (BHE) on Tuesday voted unanimously to coordinate the state's effort. The goal, both boards say, is to have thousands of high school students enrolled in college courses by fall 2018.
“For all students, particularly first-generation and those traditionally underrepresented in post-secondary education, early college is an opportunity to engage in college-level work, develop a deeper understanding of the college experience, and get a jumpstart on their college degree,” said Chris Gabrieli, Chairman of the Board of Higher Education. “We are pleased to work with schools and communities to help create new programs to support students in early college and through high-quality career pathways by 2018.”