ACC honors first graduates of early college high school

Thirteen high school seniors awarded associate degree at college’s spring commencement

The Austin Community College District (ACC) honored 13 students from its first early college high school cohort during spring commencement Thursday, May 14, at the Frank Erwin Center (1701 Red River St.).

The rigorous ECHS program allows students beginning in the ninth 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 degree by the time they graduate high school.

ECHS Grads 2“It’s history in itself. You don’t hear about this happening,” says Omari Henry, ACC early college high school graduate. “We are defying stereotypes of minority students in higher education. I hope that my achievements here will make an impact on our community, and that others can find inspiration in our work.”

The college launched its first ECHS partnerships with the Austin Independent School District (AISD) in fall 2011 at John H. Reagan and Lyndon B. Johnson high schools, which serve a high percentage of low-income, minority, first-generation, and at-risk students.

Prior to becoming early college high schools, Reagan and LBJ had minimal enrollment in dual-credit college courses. However, during the first year as an ECHS, dual-credit enrollment increased approximately 84 percent, from 17 to 104 students at LBJ and from 14 to 90 students at Reagan.

“Early college high school is fundamentally changing how students and their families think about their future,” says Dr. Richard Rhodes, ACC president/CEO. “This program puts students on an accelerated path toward a college degree. It’s incredible to watch their success and we are excited to celebrate their achievements.”

ACC will expand its partnership with AISD in the fall through the development of a third ECHS program. The South Austin ECHS will operate in partnership with William B. Travis high school.

Del Valle ISD also will begin its partnership program in fall 2015. Hays Consolidated ISD will begin a partnership in fall 2016. ACC currently serves more than 450 students in Austin, Bastrop, Elgin, and Manor ISD early college high schools.

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

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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