South San High School joins 10 early college partners

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District announces plan to include next high school in project.

By R. Eguia

South San High School is the 11th high school to partner with Alamo Colleges for early college high school programs and the fifth high school to partner with Palo Alto College.

South San students who are interested in the early college option must submit a student commitment application by the end of spring to be considered for 2016-2017 South San Early College High School.

Two colleges are still accepting applications,  Seguin Early College High School until Feb. 12 and Comal Independent School District Memorial Early College High School until March 11.

The first class enrolled in the early college program at South San High School last year was composed of 137 students. Those students began their first college-level course at the high school in January, Janice Hernandez, South San public information officer, said.

“Many of the students in the first class will be the first-generation college graduates in their family. The parents have been very supportive and are motivated by the program to make sure their kids are successful,” Hernandez said.

Monica Ayala-Jimenez, Palo Alto director of high schools, said about 85 percent of freshmen who began the program last spring are attending at least one class on the Palo Alto campus.

Dr. Jo-Carol Fabianke, vice chancellor for academic success, said the Alamo Colleges will be partnering with Judson High School next.

Judson Independent School District already has an early college academy partnered with Northeast Lakeview College and will now extend this partnership to Judson High School next.

Fabianke is part of an unofficial cross college task force that works with superintendents from various K-12 school districts to coordinate dual credit efforts in all high schools.

She said the Texas Legislature has recently expanded the margins of dual credit so that earning college credit in any high school is more accessible. The task force has been working with an organization called Educate Texas that assists in policy development for high schools and community colleges to speed up the availability of dual credit classes to all high school students.

“We have been meeting together to develop recommendations for our district since December,” she said. “We will continue into March.”

All South San students are eligible; there is no minimum grade-point average, only a willingness to complete school and be a first-time ninth-grade student in the fall of this year who met all requirements for promotion from eighth to ninth grade.

Applicants must take the TSI exam in addition to submitting the application to be placed in appropriate college level courses.

The TSI exam is a computerized test that will evaluate reading, writing and math skills to determine placement into college courses.

It is required for most students who will be first-time-in-college students since 2013. Students cannot pass or fail the TSI assessment.

A student will either be enrolled in a college-level course that matches skill level or placed in the appropriate developmental course to improve for success in college-level courses.

The student commitment application includes a full essay requirement and teacher recommendation forms. Incomplete applications will not be reviewed. Only 175 South San students will be admitted into the early college. All applicants will be interviewed and selected in an open lottery process. Students selected for the Early College Academy must attend a mandatory two-week Summer Bridge program at Palo Alto scheduled for July 25-Aug. 6.

The application form can be downloaded at

Early college high schools 

• South San High School with Palo Alto

• Harlendale High School with Palo Alto

• Judson Early College Academy With Northeast Lakeview

• Comal ISD Memorial Early College High School with St. Philip’s

• SAISD Brackenridge Early College High School with St. Philip’s

• St. Philip’s College Early College High School with SAISD on St. Philip’s campus

• Seguin Early College High School with St. Philip’s

• New Frontiers Charter School with Palo Alto

• Travis Early College High School with this campus

• Somerset Early College Leadership Academy (ECLA) with Palo Alto

• Southside Independent School District Early College High School ACES with Palo Alto


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