Meeting jointly this week, the State’s Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE), and Board of Higher Education (BHE) endorsed a plan to create new statewide policy around the process of bringing college courses into the state’s high schools, allowing students to simultaneously earn high school graduation, and academic degree credits. The goal is to advance high school students more quickly into higher education, increasing both college-going rates, and degree completion.
Cape Cod Community College is a leader in “Early College,” partnering with Bourne High School to offer academically capable students the chance to earn both a high school diploma and an Associate of Arts Degree at the time of their high school graduation. In fact, the program saw its first “dual” graduates receive their degrees during the College’s Commencement Exercises at the Cape Cod Melody Tent this past May (2016), and more are anticipated this year.
“We believe strongly that offering academically capable students the opportunity to fully enroll here at the College and earn their high school credits while doing so, gives them an incredible advantage as they continue their studies,” noted Cape Cod Community College President John Cox. “As we began to roll out this program, Bourne School Superintendent Steven Lamarche was the first to see its benefits to his students, and I’m excited that other districts are considering the program,” he concluded.
Students who do not wish to fully commit to a complete “Early College” schedule of classes can get started on their higher education careers by taking College courses in addition to their regular high school curriculum. These “Dual Enrollment” students remain within their high school programs, but take fully accredited College courses in addition to their high school classes. They earn College credit as they work toward high school graduation.
This Spring Semester (2017), Cape Cod Community College has 108 high school students enrolled in Dual Enrollment courses. In one class, Engineering Professor Fredrick “Rick” Bsharah is teaching students in his on-campus classroom while, at the same time, teaching students at a number of schools across the Cape via a completely interactive digital video connection.
Dr. Carlos Santiago, Commissioner of Higher Education in Massachusetts, is planning to create the Dual and Concurrent Enrollment Advisory Group (DCEAG) to build a pathway for students to gain greater access to dual and concurrent enrollment opportunities. This group will include secondary and higher education administrators from across Massachusetts, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, and the Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education.