MESQUITE — Eastfield College is one of four Texas community colleges that will receive state funding to launch new career and technical educational early college high school programs. In an unprecedented partnership, the Texas Education Agency, Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and Texas Workforce Commission each committed funding to help the selected institutions offer new opportunities for students to simultaneously earn a high school diploma and a postsecondary credential that prepares them to enter high-skill, high-demand fields in the workforce.
After receiving 21 proposals, the agencies decided to award the first round of grants to Eastfield College, Houston Community College Coleman, Odessa College and South Texas College. Eastfield will partner with the Dallas Independent School District to develop the Eastfield College Career and Technical Early College High School (ECCTECHS), which will enroll 60 ninth-grade students in fall 2015 and will scale up one grade each year.
The target population will be students who are enrolled in or expected to enroll in a DISD high school within the Eastfield College service area who are defined as at-risk of dropping out of school, according to the Texas Education Agency’s Public Education Information System (PEIMS), and who might not otherwise attend college as a result of other socio-economic disadvantages. Proposed programs of study include: Machinist; CNC Machine Operator; HVAC and Refrigeration Technology; Digital Media Technology in Graphic Design/Graphic Artist; Computer Aided Drafting and Design; and Advanced Manufacturing/ Mechatronics Technology.
“This new Early College High School will bring training in marketable skills to Dallas-area high school students who will be able to take technical and general education courses at our college as they complete both their high school diploma and associate degree requirements through a dual credit arrangement,” said Eastfield College President Dr. Jean Conway.
The goal of the CTE ECHS programs is to enable students to be immediately employable by providing them with job skills and an opportunity to earn stackable credentials that include Level II certificates, at least 60 credit hours toward an Associate in Science (AS) degree or an Associate in Applied Science (AAS) degree.
“A partnership with Spruce High School is a testament to a strong and healthy relationship with Eastfield College,” said Israel Cordero, DISD’s assistant superintendent for District 5. “Many Spruce High School staff and community members are motivated by the short- and long-term outcomes the CTE Early College High School will bring to students, families and the Pleasant Grove community.”
The effectiveness of the ECCTECHS will be measured by enrollment of eligible students; an increase in success rates on state mandated assessments; an increase in enrollment in dual credit coursework; persistence in a rigorous secondary program; persistence in a postsecondary program; and completion of a secondary and postsecondary career and technical education credential in high school. Long-term outcomes are expected to be statistically significant and impactful, promoting a model for positive economic and social change in a community where educational attainment is low and unemployment and poverty rates are distressingly high.
“Investing in innovative education and training options helps provide new opportunities for those high school students who may not have otherwise thought of themselves as college eligible, and gives them the potential to immediately pursue a high demand career or continue their education and training to further improve their marketable skills,” said Higher Education Commissioner Raymond Paredes of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. ”Earning college credit while in high school will help students save money and offers them early exposure to the types of environments they’ll encounter either in the postsecondary classroom or in the workplace.”
The CTE ECHS grant program is a reflection of what leaders at the three agencies have learned as they have conducted regional education and workforce forums across the state.
“We are encouraging leaders from across the state to foster a culture of collaboration and innovation among school districts, higher education institutions and employers …,” Texas Workforce Commission Chairman Andres Alcantar said. “As state agency leaders, we are committed to working together and with local partners to implement innovative education and workforce strategies that strengthen the education-to-workforce pipeline.”
In the past year Texas has added 310,000 jobs across its 11 major industries. The state’s top education leaders believe innovative efforts such as the CTE ECHS programs are needed to provide a skilled, educated workforce -- Texas’ greatest asset as the state competes in a global economy.
“To address the spirit of House Bill 5, we are looking for new and different pathways of opportunity for Texas students…,” Texas Education Commissioner Michael Williams said. ”Our hope is that these pilot programs provide a roadmap for other innovative partnerships and opportunities for Texas students.”
Contact: Sharon Cook
Assistant to the President
3737 Motley Drive
Mesquite, TX 75150