How do students become involved in Early College High School (ECHS)?
School districts must first apply to the TEA for approval to offer an ECHS program in partnership with ACC. Following TEA guidelines, the school district will develop admissions standards and processes that best fit their unique ECHS models. According to the Texas Education Agency, school districts may not consider students’ prior grades or standardized test scores in selecting students for ECHS participation; however, students must demonstrate college-readiness before they can enroll in a college-level course. Continued enrollment in college classes is based on academic performance, self-discipline, and exemplary attendance.
How is college readiness determined?
There is no admissions test for ECHS, but students must achieve the minimum required score on either the statewide Texas Success Initiative (TSI) assessment test or on the PSAT, SAT, or ACT exam. Details about score requirements are available on the ACC website, or from a high school counselor.
Is there a cost involved to the students?
No. ACC and the participating school districts cover or waive the cost of textbooks, tuition, and fees for ECHS students taking college-level courses for up to 60 college credits and/or an associate degree.
Is ECHS only for students who plan to attend ACC after high school?
No. Most ECHS credits will transfer easily to other public colleges and universities. High school counselors and college advisors can answer questions about specific courses and colleges.
What types of classes are available?
ECHS students will be able to choose from a variety of courses that follow a sequence of courses designed of maximize dual high school and college credit and can be applied to an Associate of Arts in General Studies degree or various workforce certificates. As student demand for other programs increases, ECHS will explore offering additional degree plans that apply to the students’ chosen pathway towards a degree or certificate at ACC.
Will classes be at the high school? If some classes are on ACC campuses, will the school district/ACC provide transportation?
Most of the ECHS courses will be at an ACC campus or center, with a few held at the high schools for ninth- and 10th-grade ECHS students. If a student is attending a class at an ACC campus during the school day, the school district will provide transportation at no cost.
When are classes offered?
Classes offered on high school campuses generally take place during the school day. Classes on college campuses are offered during the school day, in the evenings, on weekends, and online. It is important to understand that online courses maintain the same high standards as classroom courses and require significant self-discipline.
What ACC resources are available to ECHS students?
As enrolled ACC students, ECHS students are provided an ACC student ID card, which gives them access to all ACC student resources including college libraries, computer labs, and free tutoring.
Can students enroll in ECHS and Advanced Placement (AP) courses?
Yes. Students may take both ECHS and Advanced Placement courses if desired.
What is the difference between ECHS and dual enrollment or Advanced Placement?
Designation as an ECHS high school is limited and determined by the Texas Education Agency. ECHS allows students to participate as early as the ninth grade and complete more college courses in a four-year period than allowed in a traditional dual enrollment program, which usually limits students to taking no more than two college courses per semester in the 11th and 12th grades. The major difference between ECHS and Advanced Placement classes is that ECHS students will have a college transcript and will receive college credit as soon as they successfully complete a college class, whereas AP students must complete the course and score a minimum score on the national AP exam in that subject area in order to be considered for credit. The minimum AP exam score accepted for college credit varies by institution.
Can I still participate in extracurricular activities like athletic teams, music programs, or clubs?
Yes. ECHS students may participate in extracurricular activities, based on the guidelines established by their school district.
Are high school students too young for college-level work?
Early College High Schools across the country are successfully demonstrating that ninth- through 12th-grade students from a wide range of backgrounds are meeting and exceeding the academic challenge provided by college-level courses.
What can parents expect?
ECHS students need encouragement from their parents as well as time to read and study. Parents also must understand that federal law prohibits colleges and college instructors from sharing educational record information, (such as attendance, progress, or grades), with parents even if the student is a minor, unless the student has given their written permission to do so.
Why are students encouraged to earn two years of college credit through ECHS?
Earning a college degree at a young age can help inspire students to continue their college education and enhance their employment prospects. There is also a significant financial benefit to families, as all college credits earned through ECHS are free to students.