The program gives students a head start toward pursuing their college degrees.
Texas Tech University and the Lubbock Independent School District (LISD) are embarking on the second year of Early College High School (ECHS) at Estacado High School. The program is giving high school students a path toward their college degrees.
ECHS, part of the East Lubbock Promise Neighborhood grant, allows high school students to earn dual credit hours that count toward both high school and college degrees. Students who start the program in their first year of high school have the opportunity to graduate with 60 hours of college credit, classifying them as juniors.
"Estacado ECHS is transforming the young lives in our school by providing a quality and rigorous education that blends high school and college," said Tanna Rodriguez, the program director at Estacado. "The students in the program are becoming a close family since our Summer Bridge Program in June, and they are continuing to foster those relationships with each other and our staff at ECHS."
The first cohort of students that began in August 2016 has completed its Texas Tech freshman seminar class. This year, as sophomores, the students will have the opportunity to earn up to 12 hours of college credit. The second class of ECHS students started school on August 28.
"These students are shining as leaders on our campus as they pave the way for the ECHS program," Rodriguez said.
The program seeks to increase high school and college graduation rates among less privileged students not widely represented on college campuses. Students are taught by Texas Tech professors. The students still engage in normal high school classes and are encouraged to compete in extracurricular activities. They also can take advantage of university resources such as tutoring, writing centers and academic and career advising.
Middle school students are admitted to the program through an application and interview process. Students at schools that feed into Estacado are given priority. Students from other schools within LISD also may apply for the program, and must complete additional requirements.
Over the summer, students entering ECHS attend the Summer Bridge Program to prepare them for the work required in a dual-credit setting. The students participate in a variety of academic activities, testing days and fun activities. This June, approximately 103 students participated.
The Estacado ECHS is facilitated through the College of Education. Texas Tech waives tuition and fees for students participating in the program. In addition to hosting the ECHS, LISD provides the textbooks for the courses.
"The College of Education is excited and very proud to lead the university's work in the Estacado ECHS program," said Robin Lock, vice dean of the College of Education. "It has been very rewarding to work directly with so many talented LISD teachers, students and administrators. It also helps that we have had wonderful support from faculty and administrators from Texas Tech."
The East Lubbock Promise Neighborhood grant is a part of the Promise Neighborhood initiative from the U.S. Department of Education and has been serving schools and the community at large since 2013.
"It is important for the university to engage in our local community through programs like these," Lock said. "This is one concrete way we can join the community in providing outstanding opportunities for Lubbock students to obtain a higher education."
Applications for next year's ECHS class will open in mid-October. For more information, visit the website.
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