This week, Nacogdoches ISD is among the districts across the nation celebrating its Early College High School program.
The national program is dedicated to preparing students of historically underrepresented ethnicities for college, and narrows and closes ethnic achievement gaps based on key indicators of college readiness.
Nacogdoches High School ECHS Principal Tim Mullican said ECHS’s main objective is “to get students, who are traditionally underrepresented, comfortable with the college- going culture; so when they graduate high school, they will not only want to go to college, but know how to complete college.”
Overall, ECHS students have responded favorably to the program. They tend to achieve a higher rate of advance course/dual credit completion than state average.
Statistics from Jobs for the Future shows that ECHS students also graduate high school and attend college at higher rates with 90 percent graduating versus the national rate of 78 percent. As they cross the stage, the average ECHS student also has 38 college credits to his or her name.
The Nacogdoches program, in its second year, has seen its share of success.
Eighty-one freshmen and sophomore students are enrolled in NHS’s ECHS program, and 52 eighth graders have been accepted to attend next year.
Students must apply for the program, with a random drawing determining who will participate. Those chosen take the Texas Success Initiative Assessment, a college exam that tests reading and writing.
Some students who pass the TSI begin taking classes at Stephen F. Austin State University. Others work with teachers until they are fully equipped to be successful in the college setting.
“I best like that point when the students begin to believe in themselves and begin to have pride in being successful academically,” Mullican said. “ECHS helps students realize they can take advanced courses and college courses and be successful.”
Supports including tutorials, interventions, and grade checks are a part of the ECHS program. Students are grouped with individuals who experience the same difficulties, and form strong bonds with teachers.
Tenth grader Lizeth Rodriguez said that through ECHS she has learned how to work as a team.