The Arlington Independent School District and Tarrant County College are working to help students graduate from high school with a diploma and an associate’s degree.
Arlington ISD and TCC are seeking approval from the Texas Education Agency to create the Early College High School that would allow students - beginning in ninth grade - to earn up to 60 college credits while going to high school.
It's not limited to but is designed with a specific student in mind.
“A first generation [college] student who has the capability of college work but doesn't have the academic support,” explained Dr. Bill Coppola, President of the TCC Southeast Campus.
Arlington ISD hopes around 100 students a year will graduate from the rigorous program, students who may not otherwise consider attending college for reasons ranging from financial obstacles to a lack of collegiate precedent in their family.
“Many of these students are first generation college students, they don't have role models, they don't understand that when they walk on a college campus that a lot of it is in their hands,” said Dr. Coppola.
Students enrolled in ECHS -- which would likely be on the TCC campus -- would have access to college facilities, resources and services.
But not only will students get a head start on college credits but they'll also get an understanding of what life is like on a college campus.
“The students do experience that collegiate life and it makes that transition to college more seamless,” said Marcelo Cavazos, Superintendent of Arlington ISD.
And if they can meet that challenge, they'll likely be prepared for the next one.
“The world that we live in today and the global economy really expects that students accelerate their pace of learning and accelerates their pace of preparation and Early College High School does that,” said Cavazos.
School officials hope to have the ECHS program running by 2014, pending approval from the Texas Education Agency.