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Roxbury college, nearby high school to team up

Grads may get diploma, associate’s degree

Students at Madison Park Technical Vocational High School would be able to enroll at Roxbury Community College, enabling them to earn both a high school diploma and an associate’s degree, under a proposal being announced Tuesday by Governor Deval Patrick and Mayor Thomas M. Menino.

The proposed partnership, if approved by the Boston School Committee and the RCC Board of Trustees, would start with a small group of students this fall and would eventually allow every 11th and 12th grader at Madison Park to enroll at RCC, according to a Patrick administration official with knowledge of the proposal.

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The goal is to enable every graduate of Madison Park to be ready for a full-time job or further studies at a four-year institution.

If successful, the proposed partnership between Madison Park and RCC could be replicated at other vocational schools and community colleges across the state, the Patrick administration official said.

“This is a long time coming,” the official said. “This is something everyone can stand behind proudly.”

Dot Joyce, a Menino spokeswoman, said the mayor is eager for Tuesday afternoon’s press conference so he can “lay out a vision for a new form of technical vocational education that will set out students’ long-term path for career readiness and educational advancement.

“The mayor looks forward to the day that every student in Boston has an opportunity for a bright future,” Joyce said.

The plan would open Madison Park to adults at night for training and fulfill a promise Mayor Menino made last year.

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The partnership between Madison Park and RCC would be called the Massachusetts Academic Polytech Pathway — Roxbury, or RoxMAPP for short.

It is modeled after other partnerships between high schools and colleges across the country that often are called early college high schools. Under such arrangements, a high school is often located on a college campus.

At the press conference, Menino and Patrick will sketch out a broad vision for the partnership and will appoint an advisory board of 10 or 15 industrial experts and representatives from the Boston School Committee and RCC trustees to hash out details, such as whether students would have to pay any tuition for classes. It is expected that students on average may have to spend five years between Madison Park and RCC to earn a diploma, associate’s degree, or a professional certificate.

The proposal would also open Madison Park to adults at night for vocational and technical training. It would help fulfill a promise Menino made last year to overhaul Madison Park, the city’s only vocational school, which has been plagued with low standardized test scores and low graduation rates for years.

In his 2012 state of the city speech, Menino vowed to transform Madison Park into a “top-notch center for career readiness and workforce development” that would cater to teenagers during the day and adults at night.

But the effort has repeatedly stumbled. In the days leading up to the start of school last fall, the School Department was frantically hiring key administrators and had to appoint an acting headmaster. Then in February, the acting headmaster, Queon Jackson, was placed on administrative leave while federal investigators probed his alleged role in a multistate credit fraud ring.

Beyond leadership problems, parents, alumni and community activists have demanded that the School Department address a rodent problem in the hallways, antiquated electrical systems, leaky ceilings, outdated math and science books and no textbooks in many electives, among other issues.

RCC has also been in turmoil. Federal and state officials investigated mismanagement of campus finances and a failure to properly investigate allegations of sexual assaults. In March, a report requested by trustees detailed systematic lapses during the past decade by current and former administrators.

In an effort to stabilize RCC, Patrick replaced most of the college’s 11 board members and has appointed a new board chairman and a president, who will start in July.

Given the issues the two schools are confronting, some teachers and activists question whether the timing is right for a partnership and whether Madison Park students are ready for college-level courses. Less than 50 percent of students scored proficient or advanced in English or math on the MCAS last spring.

“We are both foundering schools,” said a Madison Park teacher, who was not authorized to speak to reporters and asked to be anonymous. “I know we are across the street from one another, but this place [Madison Park] needs a major overhaul, and RCC does, too.”

The Patrick administration official acknowledged that there have been issues at the two institutions, but said, “There is never a perfect time to do anything.”

“Let’s do this now while we have the opportunity,” the official said. “People are fired up about this.”

James Vaznis can be reached at jvaznis@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @globevaznis.
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