Early College High School (ECHS)
Early College High Schools (ECHS) are open-enrollment high schools that allow students least likely to attend college an opportunity to receive both a high school diploma and either an associate degree or at least 60 credit hours toward a baccalaureate degree. Early College High Schools:
- Enroll Historically underserved students, targeting at-risk and economically disadvantaged
- Provide dual credit at no cost to students
- Offer rigorous instruction and accelerated courses
- Provide academic and social support services to help students succeed
- Provide students with highly personalized attention
- Increase college readiness
- Partner with Texas institutions of higher education (IHEs) to reduce barriers to college access
The ECHS Blueprint Provides foundational principles and standards for innovative partnerships with colleges and universities. The ECHS Blueprint contains six benchmarks outlining the design elements that each ECHS campus must implement before serving students. Additionally, outcome-based measures in Access, Attainment, and Achievement provide guidance for ECHS program implementation and continuous improvement efforts.
The following laws and rules related to ECHS programs are available below:
- General Appropriations Act, Article III, Rider 48, 86th Texas Legislature 2019
- Texas Education Code (TEC) §29.908
- Texas Administrative Code (TAC) §102.1091, Chapter 102 Educational Programs, Subchapter GG, Commissioner's Rules Concerning Early College High Schools
- Texas Administrative Code §4.151-§4.161; §4.81-§4.85 Dual Credit
Under the authority of Texas Education Code (TEC) §29.908(b) and Texas Administrative Code (TAC) §102.1091, the TEA developed a designation process for Early College High Schools. The designation process ensures that districts and colleges operating ECHS campuses maintain the integrity of the model, which was researched and designed to target and serve students who might not otherwise attend college.
Nearly 65,000 students are served by Early College High Schools. Texas is home to 182 designated Early College High Schools and has 12 campuses in planning for the 2019-2020 academic school year. Access the CCRSM interactive map to locate ECHSs across Texas HERE.
To launch a ECHS program, a district must submit a Planning Year Application to be eligible to open a new ECHS campus, become a member of the TEA's official planning year cohort, and begin serving students the following academic year.
The ECHS Planning Year Application is open throughout the fall semester. Eligible Districts are notified of their status in the Spring to provide 12-18 months of ECHS planning. Over the course of the planning year, the ECHS Leadership Team will receive technical assistance to meet ECHS Blueprint requirements via an assigned technical assistance coach. By the end of the planning year, all design elements contained in the six Benchmarks should be embedded into school structures.
After meeting the design elements of the ECHS Blueprint, the ECHS is ready to serve students and may apply for Provisional Designation. New ECHSs remain Provisional for four years and are held accountable to Provisional Outcomes-Based Measures (OBM) during this time. The TEA will provide technical assistance to the ECHS leadership team to promote implementation of the ECHS model with fidelity. Each year, the TEA will provide OBM data for informational purposes, throughout the Provisional phase so that ECHSs can respond to challenges and be ready to meet Designated ECHS OBM Criteria.
At the end of the 4th year, the ECHS must apply for Designation status and must meet the state's Designated OBM criteria. TEA requires Designation renewal annually for each ECHS Campus. Campuses that meet the Distinguished OBM criteria for any of the three OBM categories of Access, Attainment, and Achievement will receive one or more Distinctions.
Note: TEA is currently in a phase-in process for the new ECHS Blueprint. All data are for information and planning purposes only. This information will not be used to determine designation status.
- ECHS Roadmap to Opening (PDF)
In the 2019-2020 school year, TEA engaged in a blueprint revision process to secure stakeholder input regarding the ECHS Blueprint. CCRSM Network members participated in landscape surveys, focus groups, and provided feedback on draft versions via public comment. The updated ECHS Blueprint released in August 2020 represents the culmination of learnings and insights provided by early college leaders and their collegiate partners across the state of Texas.
Network Engagement - Fall 2019
- Landscape Survey open from September 3, 2019 through December 20, 2019
- Gathered stakeholder input on 2018-19 ECHS Blueprint with focus groups
- 24 in-person focus groups hosted across Texas with CCRSM Network - August - October 2019
- 4 virtual focus groups hosted for college and university partners - November 2019
- Gathered stakeholder input on Draft of 2020-21 ECHS Blueprint - Public comment open February 3, 2020 - February 28, 2020
- Download a PDF version of the Draft 2020-21 ECHS, February 2020 (Strikethrough)
- Validated OBM data indicator thresholds based on ECHS designation data
- Download a PDF version of the Data Used to Determine OBM Targets for the 2020-21 ECHS Blueprint
- 2020-21 ECHS Blueprint released in June 2020
Implementation Year - 2020-2021
- Provisional and Designated ECHSs operate under the 2020-21 ECHS Blueprint
- Revised Blueprint benchmarks and design elements required to be met
- OBM's continue to phase in with the rising 12th grade cohort
- Designation application for 2021-2022 released
- OBM data shared via TEA log-in (TEAL portal) to drive continuous improvement efforts
- ECHS in 5th+ year may earn distinctions based on revised OBM
2016-2017 ECHS Blueprint Redesign
In the 2016-2017 school year, the TEA engaged Jobs For the Future (JFF) and other national ECHS experts to assist the agency in designing the Texas ECHS Blueprint and Designation process.
- The standard setting document details the process and data analyzed for setting the targets in the OBMs.
- View Infographics explaining the ECHS Designation Process
Network Engagement 2016-2017
- Collected network feedback to identify recommendation for the ECHS program
- Gathered stakeholder input on First Draft of Recommendations - Public Comment open April 17, 2017-April 28, 2017
- Gathered stakeholder input on Second Draft of Recommendations - Public comment period was open May 26, 2017-June 2,2017
- Download a PDF version of the recommendations May 25, 2017
- Held ECHS Best Practices Summit on August 2-3, 2017 to celebrate the release of the Texas’ home-grown ECHS Blueprint
- Download a .pdf version of the presentation ECHS Blueprint Redesign: The Future of ECHS
- 2018-2019 ECHS Blueprint
Transition Year: 2017-2018
- Designated ECHSs operated under the existing Blueprint
- ECHS prepared for implementation of the Outcomes-Based Measures (OBM)
- TEA released the annual Designation (Renewal) application for 2018-2019
Implementation Year: 2017-2019
- Redesigned Blueprint benchmarks and design elements required to be met by all Texas ECHS
- OBMs 5-year phase-in period began, starting with the incoming cohort of 9th grade students for the 2019-20 designation year
- Planning years required for all new ECHS programs