The College Academy pilot program would start in the 2017-18 academic year if the board of trustees approves the plan at tonight’s meeting. Linda Macias, associate superintendent of curriculum, instruction and accountability, presented a plan at Thursday’s board work session.
Starting in the ninth grade, students would prepare for the College Ready assessment and begin taking dual-credit courses as early as the spring semester. The dual-credit schedule would continue through their senior years, including opportunities for summer school courses.
An on-campus adviser would be available to support students along the way while they simultaneously work through the STEM endorsement at their high school, according to Macias.
Because of legislation that passed in 2015, students no longer have restrictions on the number of dual-credit courses they can take in high school or on the start date of the courses. CFISD students would be able to earn up to 60 college credit hours through the proposed College Academy plan.
Each three-hour credit course would cost $72 as opposed to $1,450 at Texas A&M or $224 for a non-dual-credit class at Lone Star College. Books and transportation will be provided to students at no cost, and nonprofit Cy-Hope will offer scholarship opportunities.
Officials said while the program is open to all students, economically disadvantaged and first-generation college students will be paid more attention. Trustee Tom Jackson said the program could help break the cycle of poverty.
Other neighboring school districts have similar programs, but most do not allow space for students to also be involved in extracurricular activities. In CFISD, students would continue to have the benefits of electives in a comprehensive high school.
“It really really is important that our young people, even while they’re getting an associate degree, have a high school experience,” Superintendent Mark Henry said. “The extracurricular [activities] and the clubs and all of that are an important part.”
Parents from Thornton and Watkins middle schools have already shown tremendous support for the program, and the district has received about 175 applications so far, Macias said Thursday.
Macias said the plan is to incorporate the pilot at Cy Lakes in 2017-18, add three more high schools in 2018-19 and have all CFISD high schools participate in the program by 2019-20. Eventually, she said she would like to see additional associate degree options added to the curriculum.
“Many times, the greatest disparity is the disparity in opportunity, and this is opening up a door for students—giving them the opportunity,” Trustee John Ogletree said Thursday.