School Bond 2014 will Provide Early College High Program at District High Schools
Pasadena ISD’s proposed bond of $175.5 million, with a zero-tax-rate increase, will provide students an opportunity to earn a high school diploma, associate’s degree or credit toward a bachelor’s degree through the Early College High School (ECHS) program.
Students must go through a rigorous application process to qualify for the Early College program.
Once accepted, students in their first two years of the program take all of their courses on their home school campus. Dual credit courses during the freshman and sophomore years are taught by San Jacinto College professors. The majority of dual credit classes during a student’s junior and senior years are offered only at the college campus.
Classes offered through the program will consist of English, math, science, Spanish and history.
Students will still have the opportunity to engage in extracurricular activities, campus events and athletics at their campus while enrolled in the program. They will also have access to San Jacinto College resources such as campus libraries, tutoring facilities, writing centers and computer labs.
Like Advanced Placement and traditional dual credit programs, the ECHS program allows students to earn college credits and boosts student achievement. Though not limited to any student demographic, the Early College program typically targets students who may be the first in their family to attend college. It enables them to earn a high school diploma and an associate’s degree at the same time. Additionally, Early College High School students gain exposure to the college culture by taking college coursework at a participating higher education institution.
The Early College program pilot has been operating at Pasadena High School for four years. Students enrolled in the school’s program will earn a high school diploma and an associate’s degree from San Jacinto College when they graduate high school May 2015. In addition, academic performance has improved notably with 11 students making the Dean’s List.
“We take students that are not in our traditional AP track and we put them in a very rigorous course of study so they have the right support to perform at the same level as the Advanced Placement students,” Joe Saavedra, Pasadena High School principal, said. “They are outperforming non-early college high students as non-AP students in all subjects.”
If the bond passes Tuesday, Nov. 4, Pasadena ISD will expand the Early College High School program to Dobie, Sam Rayburn, Pasadena Memorial and South Houston. Once fully operational, these five Early College programs will graduate approximately 500 to 600 students per year with a high school diploma and an associate’s degree.
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