State Senator Toni Boucher, R-26, is proposing the establishment of an "academically gifted advancement program" in Connecticut.

Boucher, the ranking member of the state's Higher Education Committee, has been given the green light to have the idea heard before the committee.

"The idea is to have gifted 11th-graders take a qualifying test and apply to waive their final year of high school. This would allow them to begin college early," said Boucher.

Bill No. 397 would amend the law to create the program and provide academic scholarships for the students.

"Qualified students could receive a full scholarship for tuition. Their room and board would still be paid for by their parents," said Boucher. "I would like the program to put special emphasis on math, science and engineering."

Boucher points to the need for highly skilled workers in Connecticut in the areas of science, technology, engineering and manufacturing also known as STEM. In his recent announcement to expand the University of Connecticut's research arm, Gov. Dannel Malloy highlighted the area of STEM.

Data shows that from 2000 to 2010, STEM jobs grew three times faster than non-STEM jobs, and unemployment in the STEM fields are 4.4 percent lower. Responding to the needs of business, the administration's plan intends to increase STEM graduates by 47 percent, turning out a workforce that is trained for real-world jobs.

"It would be wonderful to foster this learning pipeline early and allow our gifted and talented students the opportunity to learn and live here in Connecticut," said Boucher.

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