New "Early College High School" Program Coming to Odessa

New "Early College High School" Program Coming to Odessa

Students in Odessa will soon have a new opportunity to earn a high school diploma while also earning college credits toward a degree.
ODESSA, TX (Big 2 News) -- Students in Odessa will soon have a new opportunity to earn a high school diploma while also earning college credits toward a degree.

The state announced this week it will be funding the "Odessa Career and Technical Early College High School."

The program is a joint venture between Odessa College and Ector County ISD.

Here are the full program details posted on ECISD’s website:

June 2, 2014 – Austin, Texas – Texas Commissioner of Education Michael Williams, Higher Education Commissioner Raymund Paredes and Texas Workforce Commission Chairman Andres Alcantar today announced funding for the development of four new career and technical education early college high school (CTE ECHS) opportunities for students in Dallas, Houston, McAllen and Odessa.

The venture in Odessa is between Odessa College and Ector County ISD to develop the Odessa Career and Technical Early College High School (OCTECHS). Proposed programs of Study will include: Instrumentation and Electrical Technology; Machining Technology; and Welding. With the documented support of twelve business and industry partners, OCTECHS will start off with immense community investment in its students.

“We are excited to further our partnership with Odessa College with the implementation of a Career & Technical Education Early College High School,” said Carla Byrne, the ECISD executive director for Career & Technical Education. “The OCTECHS presents a tremendous opportunity for students to earn a high school diploma while also earning college credits toward a degree. This is a great opportunity for both our students and our community, as students will graduate ready to participate in high-skill, high-wage fields in the Permian Basin.”

“OdessaCollege has proven success and experience providing CTE dual credit opportunities for students in Ector County ISD and throughout our service area,” said Odessa College President Gregory Williams. “In the past four years, CTE dual credit at OC has increased by 445 percent. The Odessa College Technical Early College High School is the natural next step to ensure that even the traditionally under-served students have an opportunity to earn an associate of applied science degree in a high skill, high wage career field.”

In an unprecedented partnership, the Texas Education Agency, Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and Texas Workforce Commission each committed funding to support innovative education partnerships between local school districts and public community or technical colleges. The funding is designed to help local education leaders plan and launch new opportunities for students to simultaneously earn a high school diploma and a post secondary credential that prepares them to enter high-skill, high-demand workforce fields.

“Knowing that more than half of the jobs available to new and recent graduates today require some sort of post secondary education, our state needs new and different pathways for Texas students that emphasize the close ties between college and career readiness,” Commissioner Williams said. ”These pilot programs, and others like them, can provide a roadmap for additional innovative partnerships and opportunities for Texas students.”

The goal of the CTE ECHS programs is to enable students to be immediately employable by providing them with job skills and an opportunity to earn stackable credentials that include Level II certificates, at least 60 credit hours toward an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree or an AAS degree. Each proposal required close collaboration among local school districts, colleges and regional employers to ensure the highest degree of academic and technical rigor and establish strong alignment between proposed programs and local workforce needs.

“These particular early college high schools with a focus on career and technical education will provide new opportunities for students to be prepared to enter the skilled workforce upon high school graduation,” Commissioner Paredes said. "Earning college credit while in high school also helps students save money and offers them early exposure to the types of environments they’ll encounter in the workplace.”
The CTE ECHS grant program is a reflection of what the three agency leaders have learned as they have conducted regional workforce and education forums across the state.

“Encouraging leaders from across Texas to foster and enhance innovative partnerships among school districts, higher education institutions and employers will better prepare students for high demand occupations,” Chairman Alcantar said. “We are committed to working together and with local partners to implement innovative education and workforce strategies that strengthen the education and workforce outcomes for our students.”

Texas’ economy is booming. In the last 12 months the state added 348,000 jobs across its 11 major industries. Innovative efforts such as the CTE ECHS programs are needed to provide a skilled, educated workforce -- Texas’ greatest asset as the state competes in a global economy.

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