SECTION 1. Chapter 15A of the General Laws is hereby amended by inserting after section 39 the following section:-
Section 39A. (a) There shall be a Massachusetts Early College Education Program which shall be administered jointly by the commissioner of the department of higher education and the commissioner of the department of elementary and secondary education, herein the commissioners. The purpose of the Massachusetts Early College Education Program, herein the program, shall be to help increase postsecondary education participation and completion. The program shall consist of partnerships among public secondary institutions and institutions of higher education in the commonwealth designated as Massachusetts Early College Schools by the commissioners. The commissioners shall jointly promulgate any rules, regulations, or guidelines they deem necessary for the implementation of the program.
(b) Public secondary schools designated as Massachusetts Early College Schools, herein early college schools, 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 apply than can be accommodated. 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. Academic courses that count for college credit shall be those agreed to by the institutions of higher education participating in the partnership with the postsecondary school. Courses shall be taught by postsecondary faculty or secondary teachers credentialed to teach postsecondary courses and approved by the participating institution of higher education, and shall include the transfer of any advanced placement courses taken by participating students who earn a qualifying score on the advanced placement examination.
(d) The commissioners shall establish the information and requirements they deem necessary to be included in any application for designation as a Massachusetts Early College School in order to ensure a high-quality and rigorous early college program, including, but not limited to, the following:
(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) the potential student academic pathways, which shall include the sequence of courses and other curricular experiences, including, but not limited to, internships, necessary to fulfill both secondary and postsecondary 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 institutions of higher education the school will partner with to provide academic courses taught on postsecondary campuses, or where not logistically feasible, a plan to provide postsecondary experiences;
(v) the plan to offer personalized academic advising and tutoring around the pathway to postsecondary completion, which shall include specific provisions to address the particular needs of limited English proficient students, students with disabilities, and lower academic achievers, and may include strategies to provide non-academic supports including, but not limited to, guidance counseling and financial literacy; and
(vi) the approaches to supporting participating students’ exposure to a variety of career opportunities and workforce and career skills development, including, but not limited to, collaboration, teamwork, intercultural understanding, written and oral communication, critical and creative thinking, quantitative literacy, real-world-problem solving, interview preparation, career counseling, as well as experiential and workplace learning opportunities, including, but not limited to, internships and mentorships,
(e) Each early college school shall enter into and maintain a memorandum of understanding with at least one institution of higher education in the commonwealth, which shall include, but not be limited to, how the program is sustainable on current funding plus anticipated annual state supplement for designated early college schools, and the designated duties for each institution, in the areas of program coordination, student support, faculty support, career partnership coordination and performance monitoring.
(f) There shall be an early college education joint advisory committee, herein the joint advisory committee, to advise the commissioners on the designation of early college schools and to assist in setting and monitoring overall performance requirements and targeted enrollments for all participating programs. The joint 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 commissioners.
(g) Designation as an early college school 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 commissioners, and the senate and house chairs of the joint committee on higher education and the joint committee on 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 postsecondary 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 postsecondary degrees; and (6) college and career outcomes of participating students.
SECTION 2. The commissioners of the department of elementary and secondary education and the department of higher education shall promulgate any rules, regulations, or guidelines necessary to implement the Massachusetts Early College Education Program established in section 1 of this act no later than December 31, 2019.
SECTION 3. The first annual report required by section 1 of this act, shall be submitted no later than July 1, 2022.
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