Special to The Dallas Examiner
To meet employer and educational needs, Dallas College and Dallas ISD have worked with the North Texas Community College Consortium and its 20 community college members to develop pathways for students completing degrees for transfer credit and to complete bachelor’s degrees, Dallas ISD officials said.
In addition to Dallas ISD, Dallas College has partnered with 14 other school districts to provide these early college programs. Students do not have to pay for the costs of college and receive preparation, tutoring and academic support – all is free of charge.
Adam Gaddis took his first college course when he was 14, in the ninth grade and dreaming of becoming a data scientist. He graduated in May with a diploma from Conrad High School, part of Dallas Independent School District. Later that month, he received an associate degree from Dallas College.
“It’s a free, two-year degree,” said Gaddis. “How could I pass that up? I was able to get my degree right after I got my diploma. You get all of the experience of college while you’re in high school.”
At 18, he is now enrolled at the University of North Texas at Dallas.
Treasure Okey-Ilo always knew she wanted to become a nurse. Currently enrolled at Texas A&M University, her goal is to become a nurse practitioner.
Her family was delighted to celebrate her dual academic honors.
“They were amazed that an opportunity like that was available,” she said. “For my nursing major, this is really a head start.”
Okey-Ilo also started her college career while also attending Conrad.
In four years, she and Gaddis will be among the largest group of Dallas ISD/Dallas College dual credit students to receive two diplomas.
In fact, a record-setting 628 Dallas ISD students out of 875 who were enrolled at Dallas College, graduated from the P-TECH and Early College High Schools. This record 72% graduation rate is well above the national average of 22% for Early College High Schools reported by the American Institutes for Research.
Early College High School and Pathways in Technology classes have provided these students with a sense of accomplishment, giving them an early jump on their careers, according to Anna Mays, vice provost of educational partnerships for Dallas College.
“The great majority of these students are first-generation college graduates,” Mays said. “Having a degree increases income over a lifetime and assures upward mobility. It is a long-term benefit to the students, and it’s tuition-free.”
A total of 1,619 Dallas College associate degrees and certificates were awarded to high school graduates from the 2019-20 academic year as a result of the partnerships with Carrollton-Farmers Branch, Cedar Hill, Dallas, De Soto, Garland and Grand Prairie Independent School Districts. These recent Dallas College graduates are on their way to continued educational success, Mays stated. They have overcome rigorous academic challenges and social economic inequities to become the first in their families to graduate from college.
“We could not be more thrilled to receive this news, especially in the midst of an academic year like no other,” said Dr. Joe May, Dallas College chancellor. “Our staff, students and their families have and continue to endure tremendous challenges related to the ongoing pandemic, and this recognition serves as both a testament to their hard work and encouragement to keep pushing forward.”
Increasing college completion rates and developing a pipeline of world-class talent to high-demand jobs, improves equity in employment and the economic future for the students and their families, officials said.
“The model is that these P-Tech and Early College High Schools classes are designed for schools that have really low college-attendance rates,” Mays said. “We’re targeting many of these high schools, and the students have to be committed to the large amount of work they will face.”
Dallas College will honor the ECHS, P-TECH, Collegiate Academies graduates and Dallas College partners with a virtual “Celebration of Success,” which will be released at 1 p.m. this Saturday, Nov. 14. The “Celebration of Success” video will appear on Dallas College’s main Facebook and YouTube accounts: https://www.facebook.com/dallascollegetx