Gov. Malloy Announces Two New Early College Programs in Eastern Connecticut
(HARTFORD, CT) - Governor Dannel P. Malloy today announced that two new integrated high school and college programs in Windham and New London will launch in the fall of 2015. Modeled after IBM's much heralded Pathways in Technology Early College High School programs (P-TECH), the Connecticut Early College Opportunity (CT-ECO) programs are Grade 9-14 experiences that allow students to earn an associate degree in addition to a high school diploma.
"At the ribbon cutting for the NECA program I promised to work with other major employers to replicate this model elsewhere in the state, and today we're doing just that," said Governor Malloy. "When we give students the chance to learn science and technology, we give them the skills that employers are looking for, and help pull our workforce into the 21st Century."
At the direction of Governor Malloy, the Department of Education, the Department of Economic and Community Development, and the Board of Regents are collaborating on this initiative to better prepare students for college and careers while developing a skilled workforce that meets the needs of local employers. In September of 2014, Norwalk Public schools opened the state's first CT-ECO program, Norwalk Early College Academy (NECA)-a partnership with IBM and Norwalk Community College.
CT-ECO will provide students with an opportunity to access higher education affordably and addresses the critical skills gap that local industries are facing. "Early College programs like CT-ECO are game changers for our state. They break down the silos between high schools, community colleges and the world of work, allowing students to access post-secondary credentials and avoid the need for remediation and close the skills gap," said President of the Connecticut Board of Regents for Higher Education Dr. Gregory Gray.
CT-ECO builds upon the Governor's commitment to student success and economic health by aligning K-12, college and the workforce. "By providing the opportunity to experience college-level material while in high school, early college programs offer students a head start on success in their post-secondary education and in their careers. CT-ECO integrates real-world workplace experiences, meaningful mentorships, and rigorous academics-an approach that makes sense and should be expanded," said Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor.
The scope and sequence for these programs feature an integrated curriculum of high school and college courses along with a workplace learning course that focuses on industry soft skills necessary for success and growth across all career fields. "The launch of these two programs is the latest example of how our state is taking a strategic approach to developing a talent-driven workforce. This new model will meet the needs of businesses and students alike, and lead to stronger regional economies over the long term, " said DECD commissioner Catherine Smith.
The Eastern CT-ECO programs, located in Windham and New London, represent partnerships among the local school districts, Three Rivers Community College, Quinebaug Valley Community College (QVCC), and the Eastern Manufacturing Alliance (EAMA) with General Dynamics Electric Boat serving as the lead partner. "These programs represent the active roles Connecticut, local school systems and industry are taking to build the educated work force required to compete and succeed in the 21st century business environment," said Electric Boat President Jeffrey S. Geiger. "Electric Boat is a learning organization and our participation in CT-ECO reflects the importance we place on training, education and development. We're excited by this program and the promise it holds for everyone involved."
The Eastern CT-ECO programs will enable students to earn degrees in the field of Advanced Manufacturing, where demand for middle-skilled well-paying jobs is growing. EAMA President Raymond Coombs, Jr., "One of the biggest challenges that members of EAMA are faced with is finding skilled workers to join their team. We are very excited to be a part of the CT-ECO program in our area, going forward we believe this will be a local pipeline for us to continue growing our businesses."
The unique structure of this two-pronged partnership, made possible by the active involvement of the Eastern Connecticut Workforce Investment Board (EWIB), reflects the importance of collaboration to support a the development of a skilled workforce. "The openness of the industry and education dialogue in Eastern CT is something that we're proud of, so the implementation of CT-ECO here is a great fit," said EWIB Executive Director John Beauregard.
In keeping with IBM's P-TECH model, CT-ECO programs do not have special tests or screenings required for admission. Students are selected to participate through a lottery-based system.
Interim Superintendent of New London Richard Foye expressed his enthusiasm for the venture. "New London is proud to be a part of this new program. This program is an excellent addition to our school system. The cooperative among NLPS, Three Rivers College, the State, and Electric Boat with EAMA, launches an important program needed for our students and our industries," said Foye.
Windham Superintendent Patricia Garcia reflected on this opportunity for the Windham community, "We live in a 21st century global economy and we have a moral obligation to equip our youth with the tools to succeed in today's world. As such, I am eager to bring this program to Windham. CT-ECO will provide our students with the skills and experience they need to step into competitive industry jobs after graduation."
Once selected, students will be considered both students of their respective high school and students at their local community college. Quinebaug Valley Community College President Carlee Drummer stated, "At the forefront of a pioneering vision for public education, the CT-ECO programs provide the unique opportunity for students to earn a high school diploma and an associate degree within four, five, or six years. QVCC is proud to be a partner in this dynamic initiative that will transform lives in Northeast Connecticut."
Three Rivers Community College President Mary Ellen Jukoski echoed President Drummer's sentiments: "All potential students regardless of their economic status will be recruited in order to establish an awareness of the many possibilities that a career in manufacturing holds for them. The priority of CT-ECO is to reach students who might not otherwise obtain a post-secondary credential and show them that an associate degree is, in fact, a tremendous opportunity towards finding viable careers in manufacturing."
Students will also be paired with an industry mentor. Mentors will provide students with valuable insight into how what the mentees are doing in school applies to the real life demands of the workplace.
"Connecticut is to be commended for applying the P-TECH paradigm on a wider scale, so that even more of its students are better prepared for well-paying 21st century jobs," said Stanley S. Litow, vice president of Corporate Citizenship & Corporate Affairs at IBM, and president of the IBM International Foundation.
The Eastern CT-ECO programs hope to enroll 50 to 100 students in each location and add similar numbers each consecutive year. With the projected 100 plus students expected to be enrolled in the next cohort of students at NECA and the new programs in the eastern portion of the state, Connecticut stands to have up to 300 students enrolled in CT-ECO programs by the start of the next school year all located in Alliance Districts, which are 30 school districts among the lowest-performing in the state.