ETX students could soon get two years of college credit for free - KLTV.com-Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville, Texas | ETX News

ETX students could soon get two years of college credit for free

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TYLER, TX (KLTV) -

A new high school program meant to prepare students for college could be coming to some East Texas schools.

The program is called The Early College High School Initiative.

On Thursday night, members of the community, including school officials from TISD and Chapel Hill ISD, heard a presentation on the initiative.

"The whole idea is to change the mentality of the students and the institutions that all students can learn, all children can learn," says Nick Gonzalez, one of the creators of The Early College High School Initiative.

The school model allows high school students to graduate with up to two years of college credit towards a bachelor's degree for free.

Some are calling the initiative "The South Texas Miracle".

"It really is a miracle how they've transformed the area and I'd like to see some of that magic happen in Tyler," says Mike Metke, President of Tyler Junior College.

Local school officials say the model might be perfect for East Texas students.

"We're really looking hard to find a way to fund this in collaboration with TJC, and how we can come together as a community and make this possible," says TISD Superintendent Gary Mooring.

Not every high school student in the district would participate in the initiative. Early College High Schools mainly target students at risk of not going to college.

"This is really to focus in on those students that are first time college goers and build a culture of students that see college as a viable plan to go in the future," Mooring says.

Organizers say the program not only impacts the lives of students, it also impacts the community.

"If we get students in the pipeline that they're going to go to college with high aspirations, you pay once and then hopefully you get a return on the investment by people that are contributing back to the community," says Juan Mejia, one of the creators of The Early College High School Initiative.

Mejia says the initiative is free to students because they are taking the college courses at their designated high school and not at a college facility.

Metke says Tyler Junior College is ready to take the necessary steps to partner with local schools to create more Early College High Schools, "This would be another level of commitment where we would work with a high school that would really be owned by the area high school, but we would offer college level credit at that early college."

The Early College High School Initiative was started 14 years ago in South Texas. Organizers have re-designed more than 200 schools in 28 different states across the U.S.

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