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 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 principals 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. 

ECHS Designation

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, local education agencies (LEAs) 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


Designation Process

To launch an 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. 

Laws and Rules

The following laws and rules related to ECHS programs are available below:


2019-20 ECHS Blueprint Revision 

Revision Timeline 

Network Engagement: Fall 2019 

Implementation year: 2020-21

  • 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 


2016-17 ECHS Blueprint Redesign

Visit the 2016-17 ECHS Blueprint Redesign page to learn more about the timeline and to access resources related to the redesign process and implementation.

Contact Information

College, Career, and Military Prep
Postsecondary Preparation Programs
1701 N. Congress Ave
Austin, TX 78701
Email: CCRSM@tea.texas.gov