ACC to expand Early College High School program

ECHS student success prompts addition of Del Valle and Hays Consolidated ISDs

 Austin Community College (ACC) is expanding its Early College High School (ECHS) program into the Del Valle and Hays Consolidated Independent School Districts.

“These are exciting partnerships. By working together, ACC and the participating school districts ensure that students are leaving high school better prepared for either entering the workforce or continuing on to earn a bachelor degree,” says Dr. Charles Cook, ACC Provost. “We’re building the foundation for a college-going culture.”

The district currently serves more than 450 students in Austin, Bastrop, Elgin, and Manor ISD early college high schools.

The rigorous program allows students beginning in the 9th and 10th grades to take high school and ACC college courses simultaneously, giving them the opportunity to gain up to 60 college credits and potentially earn an associate’s degree or career and technical certificate by the time they graduate high school.

“This partnership solidifies an important foundation for student success,” says Dr. Kelly Crook, Del Valle ISD superintendent. “As they graduate high school, students can leave prepared for their next step whether it’s continuing on at college or entering the workforce.”

Data shows an improvement in academic performance and rising enrollment at participating schools. Enrollment at the college’s first early college high schools, Reagan and LBJ, increased more than 35 percent from 260 in fall 2011 to 402 in fall 2014. This spring, students from the first cohorts will graduate with an associate of arts.

“To graduate high school with a college degree in hand, it’s an incredible opportunity for our students,” says Michael McKie, Hays CISD superintendent. “Students who otherwise might not have the chance to attend college will have that option now.”

Through ECHS, tuition is free for students. The programs are funded through public-private partnerships, grants, and shared-cost agreements, enabling school districts to offer the programs at no charge to students.

While ECHS is available to all students, the program often reaches students who are under-represented in higher-education including first-time, low-income, and minority college-goers.  Students who participate get access to ACC resources such as advising, libraries, learning labs and free tutoring.

Learn more online at austincc.edu/echs or contact Dr. Melissa Biegert at 512-223-7686 or melissa.biegert@austincc.edu.

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