TEA approves early college high school

Round Rock ISD seniors would be able to graduate with a high school diploma and a two-year college degree under the early college high school program.

Round Rock ISD seniors would be able to graduate with a high school diploma and a two-year college degree under the early college high school program.

Updated April 19 at 10 a.m.

The Texas Education Agency approved an early college high school in Round Rock ISD, set to accept its first ninth grade class in the fall.

Students accepted into the school have the opportunity to graduate high school with both a diploma and 60 hours of college credit from Austin Community College at no cost to the student.

DeEtta Culbertson, spokesperson for the TEA Division of Communications, said the TEA received all applications for ECHS proposals throughout the state in December; the applications were then reviewed by the TEA and peer institutions based on their partnership with a higher education facility, their proposed courses of study, and their leadership teams.

Culbertson said it is important the proposed recruitment and enrollment process does not discriminate against at-risk students, such as those with limited English language proficiency or low test scores.

ECHSs are a way to make higher education available to students who would not otherwise see college as a realistic possibility, Culbertson said.

“I think we have that population in all our school districts in Texas,” she said.

RRISD's ECHS campus will be located at ACC’s Round Rock location at 4400 College Park Drive. According to the district, students would complete their freshman and sophomore years of high school within an RRISD facility at ACC and slowly integrate dual credit courses into their schedule.

Junior and senior year classes will be entirely at the ACC campus with access to academic and social counseling through RRISD.

In a news release, RRISD Superintendent Steve Flores said, “ECHS adds to the choices our students have when it comes to their education, which is part of our core mission at RRISD to offer our students a variety of education options to meet their needs.”

The district extended its deadline to apply, and it is now accepting applications from eighth grade students until April 22. It expects to accept 125 incoming freshman for the 2016-17 school year.

More information about the high school is available at www.roundrockisd.org/echs.