Fort Bend ISD students entering 9th grade in the fall of 2019 may soon have the opportunity to apply to three exciting new programs that will allow them to earn up to 60 hours of college credit.
The district is currently in the planning stages of implementing an Early College High School (ECHS) program at Marshall High School and Pathways in Technology (P-TECH) programs at Hightower and Willowridge high schools to begin at the start of the 2019-2020 school year. These models will address postsecondary degree completion and college readiness by creating a seamless transition between high school, college and the professional world.
Following the district’s Facilities Master Planning process, the FBISD board charged district administration with establishing innovative programming that supports student needs, while addressing high school utilization. Implementation of the ECHS and P-TECH programs at Hightower, Marshall and Willowridge would allow FBISD to provide students with opportunities to earn college credit, an associate degree, a two-year postsecondary certificate or industry certification while earning their high school diploma.
The ECHS model is a blend of high school and college coursework that gives students the opportunity to earn up to 60 hours, or two years, of tuition-free college credit while earning a high school diploma. The ECHS model increases college readiness, providing rigorous instruction and coursework as well as academic and social support. The program aims to:
• engage first-generation college students;
• provide dual credit at no cost to students;
• offer courses that mirror a college setting, with academic counseling to help students develop skills needed for post-high school success;
• increase college enrollment and success rates for all students; and,
• strengthen connections between middle schools, high schools and higher education institutions to promote a culture of college readiness.
The P-TECH model is an open-enrollment program designed to ensure that high school curriculum focuses on workforce needs and partnerships that support students in obtaining credentials, degrees and certificates. With the support of Educate Texas and the Texas Education Agency (TEA), participating schools target thriving industries in their region, to address key workforce pathways in high-demand fields. The P-TECH Model course of study gives students an opportunity to:
• earn an associate degree while earning their high school diploma;
• earn a two-year postsecondary certificate or industry certification;
• complete work-based training within six years; and,
• gain work experience through internships, apprenticeships, or other job training programs.
During the Dec. 17 board meeting, FBISD administration presented the school board with an update on the planning and programs, stakeholder engagement and timeline of work ahead.
Over the past few months, FBISD has engaged stakeholders in the planning process to share details of the programs and seek input on how best to deliver these programs. Campus leaders at each of the three high schools have met with various stakeholder groups (including students, parents, faculty/staff, community members and campus business partners) during campus meetings to share program structure, benefits and timelines. The three high schools will also host community meetings in January to give stakeholders additional opportunities to learn more and provide input. The meetings will take place on the following dates:
Jan. 9 – Hightower, 3333 Hurricane Lane, Missouri City, at 6:30 p.m.
Jan. 15 – Marshall, 1220 Buffalo Run, Missouri City, at 6 p.m.
Jan. 23 – Willowridge, McAuliffe Middle School campus, 16650 South Post Oak, Houston, at 6 p.m.
As recruitment begins, the principals at Hightower, Marshall and Willowridge will travel together to each FBISD middle school to speak to all 8th grade students about each program. Following the community meetings, FBISD will seek board approval of the programs at the January meeting of the board. Pending approval, the application process will begin during the spring semester of this school year, with the official launch of the programs beginning in the summer of 2019.