Chapter 15A of the General Laws is hereby amended by inserting after section 39 the following section:-
Section 39A. (a) The commissioner of the department of higher education and commissioner of the department of elementary and secondary education shall establish and administer an early college education program to increase postsecondary completion rates and participation in career pathways. The program shall consider applications for partnerships among public secondary institutions and public and private institutions of higher education to be designated as Massachusetts Early College Schools.
(b) Public secondary schools receiving such designation shall provide programs open to all enrolled students, on a space available basis, and shall not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, creed, sex, gender identity, ethnicity, sexual orientation, mental or physical disability, age, ancestry, special needs, proficiency in the English language or academic achievement. A lottery shall be held if more students than available spots apply. There shall be no application fee or tuition charge for students participating in the program.
(c) The program shall allow for a minimum accumulation of 12 transferable college credits. Preference shall be given to programs offering at least one career pathway yielding an associate's degree or relevant industry credential. Academic courses offered in pathways that count for college credit may be taught by postsecondary faculty or by secondary teachers credentialed to teach postsecondary courses and shall include the transfer of any advanced placement courses taken by participating students who earn a qualifying score on the College Board advanced placement examination.
(d) The commissioner of the department of higher education and the department of elementary and secondary education shall establish the information required for an application for early college designation; provided that a description of a high-quality early college program shall include:
i. the primary entry point grade and at least one later entry point opportunity for other students and a plan for introducing the early college program and for preparing students for the transition into the program;
ii. one or more potential student academic pathways, which shall include the sequence of courses and other curricular experiences, such as internships, necessary to fulfill both secondary and post-secondary requirements;
iii. the process and guidance support by which students will be exposed to sufficient information to select the pathway best suited for them and provide options to change pathways during the course of study;
iv. the school’s ability to partner with institutions of higher education to provide academic courses taught on postsecondary campuses, or where not logistically feasible, a plan to include postsecondary experiences;
v. the plan to offer personalized academic advising and tutoring around the pathway to postsecondary completion, which must include specific provisions to address the particular needs of limited English proficient students and students with disabilities, and may include strategies to provide non-academic supports such as guidance counseling and financial literacy; and
vi. the approaches to supporting participating students’ exposure to a variety of career opportunities, targeted workforce and career skills development, such as teamwork, communication, and interview preparation, and career counseling, and experiential and workplace learning, such as internships and mentorship.
(e) Each early college school shall enter into and maintain a memorandum of understanding with at least one institution of public or private higher education, which shall include, but not be limited to, how the program is sustainable on current funding plus anticipated annual state supplements for designated early colleges and the designated duties for each institution, in the areas of program coordination, student support, faculty support, career partnership coordination and performance monitoring.
(f) An early college advisory committee shall be established to oversee the designation of applicants and be responsible for setting overall performance requirements and targeted enrollments for all participating programs. Such advisory committee shall consist of: the secretary of the executive office of education or a designee; 2 members of the board of elementary and secondary education, who shall be appointed by the chair of the board of elementary and secondary education; and 2 members of the board of higher education, who shall be appointed by the chair of the board of higher education. Individual programs may negotiate further requirements with the departments.
(g) Designations shall be for an initial period of five years, subject to review after the first three years, and renewable subject to performance. The department of elementary and secondary education shall, subject to appropriation, provide additional funding to participating programs for each participating student.
(h) Annually, by July 1, early college schools shall file a report with the commissioner of the department of higher education, the commissioner of the department of elementary and secondary education and the senate and house chairs of the joint committee on higher education on performance measures, including but not limited to, the following categories: (1) high school graduation rates of participating students; (2) percentage of participating students who complete the program; (3) percentage of participating students who gain any post-secondary credits; (4) percentage of participating students who gain at least 12 postsecondary credits; (5) percentage of participating students in a 6-year cohort who attain an associate's degree; and (6) college and career outcomes of students.
(i) Not later than December 31, 2019, the commissioners of the departments of elementary and secondary education and the department of higher education shall promulgate rules and regulations necessary to implement this program.
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