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Plans To Make New London Magnet School Students Get The Bachelor's Degree

The new science and technology in southeast London magnet school in New London Connecticut will launch a new program next fall, will allow the associate degree students also get a high school diploma and advanced manufacturing industry.
The Connecticut Early College Opportunity (CT-ECO) program integrates the curriculum of high school and college courses to prepare students for either college or a career while "developing a skilled workforce that meets the needs of local employers," Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's office said in announcing the program Monday.
"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," Malloy said in a statement.
In addition to New London, Windham will also launch a CT-ECO program next year, Malloy's office said. Both programs expect to enroll between 50 and 100 students next year and to add a similar number each consecutive year.
"This didn't happen by accident. We have a well-established STEM school so, in our eyes, we were the logical selection," said Louis E. Allen, the former STEM high school director who now advises the district as a consultant. "We hope this will position students for entry-level jobs out of high school, getting an associate degree, possibly moving on to get a bachelor's degree, and addressing the needs of manufacturers in the region."
The New London and Windham programs are the result of a partnership between the local school districts, Three Rivers Community College, Quinebaug Valley Community College and the Eastern Manufacturing Alliance, the governor's office said.
The fundamental goal of the CT-ECO program is to provide students with an affordable higher education opportunity and to connect those students with regional employers that are in need of a younger skilled workforce.
"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," Three Rivers President Mary Ellen Jukoski said in a statement.
While enrolled in the program, which will encompass grades nine through 14, students will be considered students of their respective high school as well as either Three Rivers or Quinebaug Valley, the governor's office said.
John Beauregard, executive director of the Eastern Connecticut Workforce Investment Board, said the CT-ECO program is expected to help address the future manufacturing needs of the region.
When students leave the program, they will have not only a high school diploma but an associate's degree - without any additional costs. Students will be teamed up with a mentor from the industry, given an internship within that industry and then be first in line for hiring when a position comes open.
"It's neat model, with an alignment between industry and education," Beauregard said. "The shaping of the curriculum is influenced by industry."
Students must commit to their program in their freshman year, taking both high school and college courses along the way. The program can be completed in as little as four years, officials said, but most students are expected to graduate in four and a half to five years.
While many schools focus on steering students toward growth industries, the majority of available positions are those replacing employees who are retiring.
"With baby boomers retiring, this allows the region to do much better at locating and hiring the talent once the need is there," Beauregard said.
The two big partners in eastern Connecticut are Electric Boat and the Eastern Advanced Manufacturing Alliance, an association of 37 manufacturers in the region.
"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," EB President Jeffrey S. Geiger said in a statement. "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."
Like the IBM Pathways in Technology Early College High School program it is modeled after, the CT-ECO programs will use a lottery system to select students to participate in the program and no special test or screening will be require.
When New London's CT-ECO program launches, newly appointed superintendent Manuel J. Rivera will likely have some familiarity with the concept. The state launched its first CT-ECO program earlier this year in Norwalk, the school system Rivera is leaving to take the reins in New

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