Early College High School

What is an Early College High School?

  • A partnership between a high school and a college
  • A school that provides students with up to 60 college credit hours towards a Bachelor’s degree at no cost to the students

“The Early College model is gaining national attention due to its success in raising high school graduation and college retention rates for students at risk of not graduating. The program provides student support systems, including tutoring, counseling, and mentoring while reducing barriers to college for students who might not otherwise achieve post-secondary success.”

Texas Early College High School website

Early College High School Presentation

  • What is ECHS?
  • ECHS vs. Traditional Dual Credit
  • Testimonials
  • Logistics
  • Schedules
  • Activities

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ECHS Grounds

Early College High School may be appropriate for students who

  • might be the first in their family to attend college.
  • want to attend college but need a no-cost solution.
  • are motivated to challenge themselves with in depth college-level course work.
  • are comfortable in smaller classes focused on academics.
  • are open to accept academic guidance from dedicated, collegiate teachers and professors.
  • don’t plan on participating in school sponsored activities, such as athletics, band, drill team, cheerleading, but are interested in student-driven clubs and other activities.
  • lives in the Round Rock Independent School District.

Frequently Asked Questions

My Student Is In Eighth Grade, Why Early College High School?

Round Rock ISD’s Early College High School, a public school of choice, is committed to providing an advanced academic environment, ensuring students earn a high school diploma as well as an Associate’s Degree, or up to 60 college hours from an accredited community college.

While all students will have access to the program, the ECHS core mission is to give prospective first-generation and other typically underrepresented students in higher education a no-cost solution to earning a two-year college degree with transfer eligibility to a four year college/university.

If I am a student, do I need my parent’s permission to apply?

Yes. Parents are an important part of the process and need to demonstrate their support by granting permission and completing the parent sections of the application.

How does my student apply?

Middle School counselors will have applications in Spring and it will be available on the Round Rock ISD website.

How are the students tested for college credit? Is it similar to AP exams or via course completion?

Students earn credit by successfully completing the college course. Credit is not based on a single exam.

Can students outside RRISD attend ECHS?

Students must reside in the RRISD attendance area.

Is there bus service to RRISD ECHS?

Yes, transportation will be provided to the RRISD ECHS campus at Austin Community College (ACC).

Will students have meal service available?

Yes, food service will be offered.

What’s the process if my student needs to transition back to a traditional high school?

Students who find that the ECHS environment is not a fit for them will have the option to transfer to the high school for which they are zoned for attendance. The ECHS counselor will work with the comprehensive high school counselor to ensure appropriate courses are scheduled. Transitions are best at semester breaks.

Why aren’t UIL activities offered?

The ECHS requires significant focus, time, and energy. In addition to requiring a great deal of time and focus, UIL activities also have logistical issues that make them less of a fit for ECHS including competition schedules that conflict with college courses. The ECHS will have student-driven clubs and activities to ensure students engage in extracurricular interests.

Do the RRISD and ACC calendars align? If not, which calendar does the school follow?

To the greatest extent possible, the ECHS will follow the RRISD calendar. However, if ACC classes meet when RRISD does not, students will be expected to attend their ACC classes. Calendars will be worked out annually to address these issues.

Are college classes longer or shorter than high school classes?

RRISD high schools operate on a block schedule, meaning high school classes meet every other day for 90 minutes. This is similar to college class schedules. At ECHS, students enrolled in college courses will meet for 90 minutes either Monday/Wednesday or Tuesday/Thursday. Alternate activities will be planned for Friday. This schedule is anticipated to take effect the second year, when the ECHS has sophomore students taking college courses.

How many college hours will my student be taking?

Freshmen are expected to take one college course in the spring semester. Sophomores may take up to two per semester. Most ECHS students may take up to 12 hours of college coursework in a semester by their junior and senior years. The goal is to graduate with an Associate’s degree by high school graduation or to have accumulated up to 60 hours towards a Bachelor’s degree.

Who and how is it determined if my student qualifies to attend?

Families will complete the application process in the spring. A district committee will review applications against criteria established by TEA for the ECHS to determine eligibility. If the number of eligible students exceeds the enrollment cap of the class (125), a lottery process will be applied to determine the class of 2020 cohort and a wait list will be established.

What is being done to ensure student safety?

The safety of students and staff is our top priority. RRISD and ACC are collaborating regarding student safety. ACC has on-site security. ECHS staff will accompany students to other areas of the campus as freshmen. By their junior and senior year, ECHS students will be responsible to get themselves to and from other areas of the ACC Round Rock campus.

If my student gets ill while on campus, where do they obtain medical care?

RRISD nursing services will be provided at ECHS. In the case of a medical emergency, we will ensure that students will receive care.

Will the college credits my student earns transfer to any public university?

ACC college credit will transfer to any Texas public university. Students interested in other institutions of higher education should check with them regarding their credit transfer policies. ECHS and ACC counselors will work with students to align coursework with their desired transfer pathway.

What is a lottery process?

If more than the 125 student capacity apply and qualify, all students who are eligible will be randomly assigned a number. The first 125 students will be the Class of 2020 cohort and students 126 on will be on the waitlist.

What are the academic expectations? Is there a minimum GPA?

There is no minimum GPA for high school courses, but students are expected to pass their courses. However, students are expected to maintain a 2.0 GPA in college courses. Students who struggle significantly will meet with the campus staff to determine a support plan, including tutorial attendance.

Do GPA measurement values differ for high school and college courses?

Currently dual credit courses are not counted as part of a student’s GPA in RRISD.

Who are teachers employed by?

The ECHS teachers who teach high school courses are employed by RRISD. ACC professors providing dual credit courses are employed by ACC. On occasion, there may be a few high school teachers who are also adjunct professors for ACC. In that case, they are employed by RRISD, but can teach the dual credit course.

Who would be my first contact be if I have questions about my student’s ACC academic performance?

Parents should contact the ECHS administration and the students should contact their assigned ACC counselor.

What is the class size for ECHS?

Class size is anticipated to be small, with 18-20 students in most high school classes. College classes may have an enrollment of up to 36.

Who will benefit from ECHS?

RRISD is committed to providing outstanding opportunities for students of all backgrounds.

With a focus on college success, ECHS is specifically designed to support first generation college-goers, including those who may be traditionally underrepresented in college admissions and who may have difficulty affording the cost of college. At-risk students would also benefit from attending Early College High School

It is anticipated that the student body of the ECHS will be representative of the district’s demographic distribution with students from all of the district feeder patterns.

Who is an at-risk student?

According to the Texas Education Agency, a student at-risk of dropping out of school includes each student who is under 21 years of age and who:

1. is in prekindergarten, kindergarten or grade 1, 2, or 3 and did not perform satisfactorily on a readiness test or assessment instrument administered during the current school year;

2. is in grade 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, or 12 and did not maintain an average equivalent to 70 on a scale of 100 in two or more subjects in the foundation curriculum during a semester in the preceding or current school year or is not maintaining such an average in two or more subjects in the foundation curriculum in the current semester;

3. was not advanced from one grade level to the next for one or more school years; (Note: From 2010-2011 forward, TEC 29.081 (d-1) excludes from this criteria prekindergarten or kindergarten students who were not advanced to the next grade level as a result of a documented request by the student’s parent.)

4. did not perform satisfactorily on an assessment instrument administered to the student under TEC Subchapter B, Chapter 39, and who has not in the previous or current school year subsequently performed on that instrument or another appropriate instrument at a level equal to at least 110 percent of the level of satisfactory performance on that instrument;

5. is pregnant or is a parent;

6. has been placed in an alternative education program in accordance with TEC §37.006 during the preceding or current school year;

7. has been expelled in accordance with TEC §37.007 during the preceding or current school year;

8. is currently on parole, probation, deferred prosecution, or other conditional release;

9. was previously reported through the Public Education Information Management System (PEIMS) to have dropped out of school;

10. is a student of limited English proficiency, as defined by TEC §29.052;

11. is in the custody or care of the Department of Protective and Regulatory Services or has, during the current school year, been referred to the department by a school official, officer of the juvenile court, or law enforcement official;

12. is homeless, as defined NCLB, Title X, Part C, Section 725(2), the term “homeless children and youths”, and its subsequent amendments; or

13. resided in the preceding school year or resides in the current school year in a residential placement facility in the district, including a detention facility, substance abuse treatment facility, emergency shelter, psychiatric hospital, halfway house, or foster group home.

School Mission

Round Rock ISD’s Early College High School (ECHS) is committed to providing an advanced academic environment to ensure students earn a high school diploma as well as an Associate’s Degree or up to 60 college hours from an accredited community college. ECHS gives prospective first-generation college students and others typically underrepresented in higher education a no-cost solution to earning a two-year college degree with transfer eligibility to a four-year college/university.

Student Support

Students are taught study methods and organizational strategies to help them boost their academic skills. All core classes are rigorous Pre-AP, AP or dual credit courses. Students will be challenged with a meaningful course of study and real world applications. Further student support is conducted through study halls, advisory, after school tutorials and counseling services.