ARLINGTON — As early as fall 2014, parents in the Arlington school district will send their high school freshman to a Tarrant County College campus.Geared toward first-generation college students, an Early College High School is expected to open at TCC’s Southeast campus where students will receive instruction and textbooks for free. The campus will enable students to simultaneously earn diplomas and associate degrees upon graduation, Superintendent Marcelo Cavazos told a sold-out crowd at an annual State of the District Address on Monday. Eighth-graders will be eligible to start submitting applications as early as February, and the high school is expected to open with 100 freshmen and take on an additional 100 students each year. The district must file an application with the Texas Education Agency in September to be granted an ECHS designation, but Cavazos said the district submitted an “intent to apply” in the spring. “We had conversations and meetings early on,” Cavazos said. “We knew AISD and TCC had strong collaboration in the past, so what was that next level of partnership? We wanted more opportunities for our students at an early age to accelerate their learning.”Cavazos and TCC Southeast President Bill Coppola collaborated for the past year to plan course work for incoming freshman. The planning is in line with TEA’s expectations, Cavazos said. The new high school stems from Cavazos’ three-year “Achieve Today. Excel Tomorrow,” plan, which encourages college and career readiness.District officials should know whether the TEA has approved the request by January 2014, but in the meantime, eight-graders will learn about the high school through the district’s “Career, Technology, and Higher Education Investigations” course that kicks off with the start of school Aug. 26. Eligibility is part of the process that has yet to be hashed out, and funding will be determined though an agreement between the district and college, Cavazos said. Coppola said the program will create a college culture, and classes will be in an existing facility or a new one will be built. He said they’ll know more once officials hear back from the TEA. “Right now we’re still working out how we’ll get that done,” Coppola said. “... The purpose is to create a college-going culture.”There are 44 ECHS’s in Texas.A 2010 reportfound that ECHS 10th-graders were 2.3 times more likely to meet or exceed TAKS in all subjects.
Monica S. Nagy, 817-390-7792 Twitter:@MonicaNagyFWST