Early College High School Changes Lives

Posted by Andrea Brown on 10/29/2021 12:00:00 PM

In 2019, the trustees of Bay City Independent School District made a significant decision that literally changed the lives of ten students. That decision was to fund the implementation of an Early College High School (ECHS) program. The Bay City Education Foundation then partnered with the district by making significant financial contributions to increase the number of students to be enrolled in the program to fifteen.  This year, the foundation has increased its funding to allow twenty students to enter our second cohort for a total of 35 current freshmen and sophomores.

 

Early College High School is a life-changing opportunity for incoming freshmen to begin the journey toward an Associate of Arts degree from Wharton County Junior College (WCJC). Starting in their freshman year, students take dual credit classes where they earn both high school credits and college credits. When our first cohort graduates from high school in 2024, they will have completed 20 college classes for a total of 60 college credit hours, all at no cost to their families.

 

The move from junior high classes to high school coursework is challenging, but the additional rigor of enrollment in college classes is an even bigger challenge. But as sophomore ECHS student Anavie B. said, “Great success comes only from hard work.” Students understand that this journey is not a sprint, but a marathon which requires the same dedication, training  and perseverance. Their motto is “Start together, finish together.” This reminds students that they are a team and to support each other along the way.

 

Additional support for these students have been put in place by the district. ECHS students are enrolled in the AVID program which provides instruction in critical reading techniques, organizational skills, higher level questioning, writing and collaboration. Twice weekly tutorials are also provided in the AVID elective.  ECHS students have a designated counselor and administrator at the high school as well as support by WCJC from a designated ECHS advisor.

 

In order to be considered for the ECHS program, eighth grade students submit an application in the spring. Students are chosen through a weighted lottery system and must pass the reading and writing portions of the TSI exam before beginning college classes. The opportunity to earn college credits through dual credit classes is open to any high school student who has passed their TSI exam. However, Bay City ISD is the only district in the county to offer the ECHS program.