Daily News

Veritas Prep Charter School Approved as Massachusetts Early College Program

SPRINGFIELD — Following a rigorous nine-month application process, Springfield’s Veritas Preparatory Charter School, in partnership with Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) and Worcester State University (WSU), has been approved for designation as a Massachusetts Early College program by the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, starting this fall.

The unique local program allows Veritas Prep High School students to take college courses through STCC and WSU and earn 30 to 60 credits, even working towards obtaining an associate degree upon high-school graduation, for free.

“We are beyond proud to offer an early-college program as a one-of-a-kind option for high-school students in the Springfield area,” said Rachel Romano, executive director of Veritas Prep. “This program not only gives students a significant head start on their college education, but also teaches them to be proactive, independent, and confident in pursuit of their goals.”

This designation will add more than 100 students to early-college enrollment this fall and 334 students by 2026, with pathways concentrated in health sciences and healthcare, education, business and finance, computer science, engineering, and liberal arts.

Starting last fall, Veritas High School opened with 100 students in grade 9, working with STCC and WSU to begin implementing early-college activities for the inaugural ninth-grade class. Veritas Prep’s freshmen were offered two college courses this semester with professors from STCC and WSU, each course earning them credit toward high-school graduation and transferable college credits. With the average cost of college in Massachusetts around $20,000 per year, the intensive early-college program can save students $40,000 to $75,000 or more. The general studies associate degree that students can earn from STCC while still in high school means they can start as juniors at other Massachusetts public colleges or universities.

In January 2017, the boards of Elementary and Secondary Education and Higher Education jointly launched an initiative intended to support the expansion of the Massachusetts Early College program and establish an Early College designation. Fifty-one high schools and 24 higher-education institutions participate, reaching more than 6,000 high-school students. This is the ninth designation cycle in the state initiative’s five years, awarding nine new designations that will add 730 students to early-college enrollment this fall and 1,800 students by 2028.

Students across the nation are graduating from high school unprepared for the academic and social/emotional demands of college: 40% of all college students and 60% of Black and Hispanic or Latino students take at least one remedial course in college, adding thousands of dollars to an already-high cost of attendance and increasing student debt. Moreover, 60% of college students and 75% of Black and Hispanic students will begin college but won’t earn a degree. Now, Veritas Prep can offer a high-school experience that will help defy the odds and put students on a path to college and a successful career.