CHELMSFORD — If all goes as planned, Chelmsford High School students will be able to take some classes for college credit next year thanks to a partnership with Middlesex Community College.
Superintendent of Schools Jay Lang said the school district and the college are still finalizing all of the details. The overall idea is that district teachers will teach the classes, designed to meet college criteria, as part of the regular high school schedule, and students who want to earn college credits will have to meet certain requirements and pay a fee, he said.
Lang said the plan is to start small in the fall, offering a couple classes in each discipline.
“If it goes well, there’s really no limit to what we could do,” he said.
Chelmsford will join many other area high schools in offering dual enrollment through MCC, including Lowell, Dracut, Littleton, Groton-Dunstable, Innovation Academy Charter and Greater Lowell, Nashoba Valley and Shawsheen tech schools.
Lang said he became familiar with the popular program during his time as deputy superintendent in Lowell. When he first interviewed in Chelmsford, School Committee members expressed an interest in starting a similar program, he said.
Currently, only students who take Advanced Placement courses in Chelmsford have a chance to earn college credit, and that requires getting a certain score on the final AP test.
Lang said dual enrollment will open up college credit opportunities to more students who may not be inclined to take AP-level courses.
Students would have to have a minimum 2.0 GPA to qualify for the classes, as well as have approval of their parents, guidance counselors and principal, MCC Dean of Education & K-16 Partnerships Ellen Grondine said during a December presentation to the School Committee. Home-school students may also participate.
For 2018, MCC dual-enrollment classes cost $92 per credit, Grondine said. A common three-credit class would be $276 — about half of what a full-time college student would pay.
“If you look at the cost of a college course these days, that’s incredible,” Lang said.
He said he expects mostly juniors and seniors would take the college-credit courses. Depending on how many they take, they could graduate high school with a semester of college classes already done, Lang said.
That could allow students to finish a college degree sooner and save money, or take a lighter load of classes in college if they want to, he said.
Lang said he hopes to work with UMass Lowell next year to create similar college-credit options for Chelmsford students, likely with an off-campus component.
Because the high school works on a rotating schedule, students wouldn’t be able, for example, to leave their last block of the day to attend a class at the university, because it would be different each day, he said. However, they may be able to work out a deal where students could go take a class at UMass Lowell outside of high-school hours, Lang said.
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