Knippa Independent School District superintendent Jeff Cottrill and Southwest Texas Junior College President Dr. Hector Gonzales met in the SWTJC Matthews Student Center Ballroom Wednesday morning. After a brief statement by each leader, they signed a memorandum of understanding instituting an early-college high school: Knippa Collegiate Early College High School.
Gonzales, who opened the meeting by noting that “today is the first day of a great partnership,” explained that this agreement will allow students to graduate from high school with an associate’s degree.
The Knippa Collegiate Early College High School (KCECHS) represents robust integration between Knippa ISD and the SWTJC dual credit articulation program. It includes the cooperation of course designers, teachers and instructors, and program evaluators. As a result, students who graduate from KCECHS also graduate with an associate’s degree from SWTJC. This initiative gives high school students early access to college. Increased income opportunities, a benefit of degree attainment, are also available to KCECHS students.
A study emphasizing the highest net benefits for students who first earn an associate’s degree at a community college before earning a bachelor’s degree at a four-year institution was recently published by Columbia University’s Community College Research Center. Graduates from KCECHS are ideally positioned to achieve these net benefits. “Core” college credits earned from SWTJC can be transferred and applied toward a bachelor’s degree program at any public Texas institute of higher education. Further, KCECHS students are eligible to participate in SWTJC’s many 2x2 transfer agreements with four-year colleges and universities.
“We are looking forward to enhancing education in our area,” Gonzales said.
Cottrill echoed Gonzales’ enthusiasm: “this agreement is setting our students up for that much more success.” In offering both a high school diploma and associate’s degree, KCECHS is held to the standards of the Texas Education Agency, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, and SWTJC’s regional accreditor: the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools – Commission on Colleges.
Early college courses will begin at KCECHS in fall of 2014.
Highlighting the cooperating parties from both Knippa ISD and SWTJC, Cottrill expressed his appreciation for all parties involved in the KCECHS initiative.
“This is a great program that required thinking ‘outside the box’ – we are excited to see it become a reality.”
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