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STEM Early College High School: Transforming Education

Marlborough Public Schools
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Building a STEM program in a New England district—where more than half the students qualified for free or reduced-price meals—seemed at first like a difficult goal for Marlborough Public Schools.

But the job market was ripe for the program. The Marlborough area has the second largest concentration of health care jobs in Massachusetts and is home to 30 percent of the state’s technology jobs.

In 2010, Marlborough received a federal Race to the Top grant to create its STEM Early College High School, which offered cost-saving college-credit courses and provided a network of support to students who would be the first in their family to attend college.

The grant also helped pay for STEM classes for students in grades 6 through 9, beginning in fall 2011.

Marlborough also received a federal Labor Youth CareerConnect grant in 2014 to expand the program to all high school students. The initiative brings together employers, educators, local government and nonprofits to design career pathways aligned with labor market demands.

The program has brought project-based learning, interdisciplinary technology instruction and  a 1-to-1 initiative to the district, which has received accolades from state leaders and recognition as a national model.

And results are clear. Ninety-eight percent of Marlborough’s early college high school students tested proficient or advanced on the 2014 and 2015 Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System exams.