Wendy Davis for Governor Great Schools: Great Texas

Part II: Great Pathways: Great Texas
Growing the Texas economy into the future requires a highly educated workforce, and that starts with providing Texas students more and better access to higher education. One of the best ways to get students into college, to ensure that they graduate, and to reduce their out-of-pocket costs is to allow them to obtain college credit while in high school. Students who end their first calendar year of college enrollment with fewer than 20 credits are less likely to successfully complete college than their peers. 1 The U.S. Department of Education recommends expanding dual enrollment programs so that graduating high school students are entering college with a minimum of six college credits already completed.2 As Governor, Wendy Davis will strengthen and expand Texas’s existing early college opportunities to make obtaining college credit while in high school a reality for more students. Wendy Davis wants all students to not just be collegeready but college-proven. Summary: As Governor, Wendy Davis will: • Double the number of Early College High School Campuses statewide, ensuring that students throughout Texas have access to academically rigorous environments and can earn college credit as early as 9th grade. • Double the number of hours of college credit Texas high school students earn each year to ensure that all Texas students have the opportunity to get a head start on higher education. • Create a need-based grant program under the Texas Education Agency so that cost is not a barrier for students who want to access early college options. • Encourage school districts to develop collaborative partnerships with local institutions of higher learning to create college-proven students. Proposal Details: • Double the number of Early College High School Campuses o Early College High Schools provide the rigorous academic environment and dedicated resources to allow students to pursue college level coursework as early as 9th grade. These schools blend high school and college work with the goal that students will graduate with both a high school diploma and either an associate decree or up to 60 credit hours toward a baccalaureate degree. o There are currently 65 Early College High School (ECHS) campuses in Texas, and TEA anticipates certifying additional campuses for the 2014 school year. To ensure that students all across the state have the opportunity to access these dynamic programs, as Governor, Wendy Davis will double the number of Early College High School campuses.3

Adelman, C. (2006, February). The Toolbox Revisited: Paths to Degree Completion from High School through College. Washington, DC: US Department of Education, 24, available at http://www2.ed.gov/rschstat/research/pubs/toolboxrevisit/toolbox.pdf. 2 Id. 3 Texas currently appropriates $3 million annually to provide combined support for the Early College High School program and the Texas Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math Initiative, according to the Texas Education Agency. POL. ADV. PAID FOR BY WENDY R. DAVIS FOR GOVERNOR, INC.

Double the number of hours of college credit Texas high school students earn each year o Texas high school students may earn college credit through early college high school, dual credit, concurrent enrollment, Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, or advanced technical credit programs. Nevertheless, in 2009, only about one in four Texas high school graduates earned any dual credit and fewer than one in 10 earned 12 or more credits.4 o The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board notes a variety of advantages to providing dual credit for high school students. According to THECB: ! Studies show that dual credit increases the likelihood that a student will complete high school, and enroll in and persist in college. ! Decreases cost of tuition and fees for students by accelerating time to degree. ! Accelerated degree time may free up facility space and faculty for additional students to enroll. ! New graduates enter the workforce sooner and begin to earn wages, benefiting themselves and the economy. ! [Access to dual credit] Contributes to the goals of Closing the Gaps 5 through greater participation and increased academic success.6 o Texas law currently limits the number of dual credit classes most high school students can take to two per semester. Before the passage of HB 5 during the 83rd legislative session, graduation requirements did not allow the flexibility for students to take more dual credit classes. ! Now that the legislature has passed HB 5 with the specific goal of providing more flexibility for districts and more choice for students, Wendy Davis proposes to lift the cap on the number of dual credit hours students may earn. o To ensure that high school students are fully aware of their opportunities to earn college credit, as Governor, Wendy Davis will develop a statewide public outreach campaign detailing early college options, including ! A comprehensive survey of the early college options offered throughout the state ! Direct communication with middle and high school guidance counselors to ensure that they understand the options and are communicating those options to students effectively ! Intensive counseling/advising prior to course enrollment • In order to be sure that the credits will be transferrable to the student’s desired college, students should meet with their high school counselor before enrollment to understand the implications of the various available college credit. ! A public website outlining college pathways, and detailing Texas program options Create a grant program under TEA to offset costs to students o State law does not require a school district to pay for tuition or other fees associated with taking a dual credit course, which means that the cost often falls either to the participating institution of higher education or to the individual student. Many participating community colleges waive tuition fees, but books and transportation are often not included. o As Governor, Wendy Davis would therefore create, under TEA, a needs-based grant program for students who would like begin taking dual credit courses, but cannot afford the textbooks and/or tuition. ! From a TEA commissioned study on dual credit: “Dual credit program funding/revenue are


Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, Changes in the Demographic Characteristics of High School Graduates, 20032009, Key findings, available at http://www.thecb.state.tx.us/reports/PDF/2454.PDF?CFID=5641950&CFTOKEN=21495012 5 Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, Closing the Gaps by 2015: The Texas Higher Education Plan (October 2000), available at http://www.thecb.state.tx.us/reports/PDF/0379.PDF. 6 Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, Dual Credit – Frequently Asked Questions, at http://www.thecb.state.tx.us/index.cfm?objectid=E9397432-F85E-83E1-471DFAB9F59301B8#Q2. POL. ADV. PAID FOR BY WENDY R. DAVIS FOR GOVERNOR, INC.

estimated at approximately $180 million for the 2009–10 academic year.”7 • The state of Texas covered for the majority (61%) of costs associated with courses for dual credit for high school students through state funding (e.g., Foundation School Program, State Compensatory Education funds, High School Allotment funds, formula and discretionary grants, etc.) to local education agencies (LEAs) (36%) and state appropriations to community colleges (25%). • A substantial proportion (32%) of state funds used by LEAs to support dual credit programs went toward tuition and fees (19%) and textbooks (13%) for courses for dual credit. • Encourage school districts to develop collaborative partnerships with local institutions of higher learning to create college-proven students o According to TEA, “Collaboration between the high school and the college is a crucial element of a dual credit program. The written agreement […] drawn up between the public school district and the institution of higher education should define the nature of this collaboration.”8 o Wendy Davis will work to make sure that districts that commit to working with their communities, and to forming partnerships with businesses and higher education institutions, are rewarded for their creativity. ! Wendy Davis will ask TEA to expand on the framework for accountability established in HB 5 during the 83rd Session and to incorporate these quality-of-education metrics when evaluating school performance. ! Wendy Davis will also work with the legislature to increase the amount of flexible funding school districts receive so that they have the resources to invest in developing innovative, collaborative programs that best meet their students’ needs. • For rural and remote school districts without ready access to a local institution of higher education, these additional funds could be used to increase student access to online college credit options and correspondence options from state schools, and to develop collaborative regional partnerships for distance learning.


American Institutes for Research and Gibson Consulting Group, Research Study of Texas Dual Credit Programs and Courses (March 2011). 8 Texas Education Agency, Dual Credit: Frequently Asked Questions, available at http://www.coastalbend.edu/uploadedFiles/CBC/Content/Instructional_Services/Dual_Credit/TEA_Dual_Credit_FAQ.2011(1).p df. POL. ADV. PAID FOR BY WENDY R. DAVIS FOR GOVERNOR, INC.

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