Texas education commissioner approves Angelina Co. College High School

Texas education commissioner approves Angelina Co. College High School

ANGELINA COUNTY, TX (News Release) - In a unique collaboration with the six Angelina County school districts, the commissioner of education has approved the designation for the Angelina County Cooperative CTE Early College High School.

In a release sent from the Texas Association of Education today, 44 Early College High School (ECHS) designations were announced totaling 154 for the state.

The release went on to say, "Early college high schools are innovative high schools that allow students least likely to attend college an opportunity to earn a high school diploma and either an associate degree or at least 60 college credit hours toward a baccalaureate degree. Under this model, an ECHS provides dual credit at no cost to students; offers rigorous instruction and accelerated courses; provides academic and social support services to help students succeed; increases college readiness; and reduces barriers to college access."

East Texas students enrolled in any of the six Angelina County public schools will have the opportunity to choose the Early College High School (ECHS) as an option to take college courses and gain a two-year associate's degree or apply 60 course hours toward a bachelor's degree. Students will take some classes at their local high school where they will continue to have the high school experience and a high school diploma.

"Once again, the school districts in Angelina County are collaborating to provide the best education for our students," said Dr. Mary Ann Whiteker, the Hudson ISD's superintendent. "We will be the first in the state to form a countywide partnership to expand educational opportunities for our students. This new initiative will allow the six school districts to offer an early college high school experience for students entering our high schools."

At the recent Angelina County superintendent meeting in March, the superintendents discussed the details of making the ECHS a reality. The first step required the designation from the commissioner of education, which was announced today through an email from Laura Gaines of the Texas Education Agency.

"The purpose of this email is to inform you that your application for designation as an Early College High School (ECHS) has been approved by the commissioner of education," the e-mail stated.

Dr. LaTonya Goffney, Superintendent of Lufkin ISD, said, "Lufkin ISD is excited to be a partner in this collaborative effort to provide our students with more choices and opportunities," said Dr. LaTonya Goffney, Lufkin ISD's superintendent. "Whether our students will be first generation college students or students looking for a wider range of opportunities, the Early College High School will be the avenue for them to obtain 60 hours of college credit or a certification."

"We are pleased to be able to provide additional career and technology options for our students," said Michael Woodard, Zavalla ISD's superintendent. By partnering with the other Angelina County schools, Zavalla ISD students will have college and career readiness opportunities that a district of our size would not otherwise be able to provide. We are excited about being a part of this initiative and look forward to the next steps in the process."

The next step will be to hire a principal and begin planning enrollment procedures and documents. Lufkin ISD will be the lead district and the fiscal agent for the cooperative.

A location will be determined, but presently both Stephen F. Austin State University and Angelina College have agreed to an Early College High School Memorandum of Understanding between the colleges and the six school districts including shared use of facilities, services, and resources. The MOU agrees that students may earn a high school diploma and an associate's degree, or alternatively, at least 60 hours of college credit hours toward a bachelor's degree.

"School districts continue to see the value in providing an avenue for students to not only earn college credit, but also potentially earn an associate's degree while still in high school," said TEA Commissioner Michael Williams.

"Angelina County students will once again benefit from a 'county-wide' partnership," said David Flowers, Huntington ISD's superintendent. "There is not another education venture like this in the state. It is an incredible opportunity for Angelina County and our students will be the real winners."

"We are excited that our students will have even more opportunities, be able to choose a career ready plan, and earn an industry standard certification by high school graduation," said Allen Gardner.

"Diboll ISD is excited to be a part of this Early College High School collaboration with all of the Angelina County school districts.," Gary Martell, Diboll ISD's superintendent. "It has been a process of shared vision and teamwork. Countless meetings, time and energy have gone into getting to this point in the process. It is another example of how our Districts and our county have listened to our parents and business owners as we educate the leaders of tomorrow."

"It is fantastic that our school districts can be involved in this unbelievable partnership," Flowers said.