• What is Early College High School?

    South San Antonio Early College Academy is an innovative high school in a partnership with Alamo Community Colleges – Palo Alto College,  to provide students who are least likely to attend college with the opportunity to earn up to 60 college credit hours. Students will earn these college credits as they earn their high school diploma, at no cost to the student or his/her family. The South San Antonio Early College Academy is a school-within- a school model that, beginning in August 2015, will offer students a pathway that will lead to post-secondary credentials. 


    What are type of degree will ECHS students graduate with?

     Associate Degree:

    Graduate with up to 60+ college credit hours and an associate of arts degree that may be transferable to any public university in the State of Texas.


    Why is the early college model successful?

    Early colleges make college success a reality for students that have traditionally been underrepresented in post-secondary. By working in close partnership, school districts and institutions of higher education are able to serve students in a more personalized and efficient manner that leads to higher levels of student success. The partnership between South San Antonio ISD and Palo Alto College is designed to create:

    •          A shared vision and common expectations for students and parents
    •          Focus on rigorous instruction and accelerated coursework
    •          A college-going culture that provides high school students with access to college facilities and services
    •          Student support systems which include tutoring, counseling and mentoring
    •          Collaborative teaching and professional development
    •          Increased high school graduation and retention for students at risk of not graduating
    •          Reduced barriers to college access for first generation college-goers
    •         Increased attainment of postsecondary education and training


    Who is the District's Institute of Higher Education (IHE) partner?

    The South San Antonio Early College Academy is made possible through a partnership between South San Antonio ISD and Alamo Colleges – Palo Alto College.


    Will every South San Antonio Early College Academy student receive college credit?

    The South San Early College Academy provides opportunities for all participating  students to successfully attain college credentials. The Early College Academy is designed to support student interest in college and careers and to individualize learning.


    Will every South San Antonio ECHS student receive a college degree?

    Every student at South San Early College High School will have the opportunity to earn up to 60 college credit hours and an Associate of Arts Degree from Palo Alto College.


    How are students selected for the ECHS?

    During the Spring Semester of 2016, all eighth grade students must submit a 2016-2017 ECHS Commitment Application. There are no criteria for placement into the Early College Academy – just the student’s willingness to commit to the demands of this pathway. Please contact your middle school or high school counselor for details.


    Do I have to be a “straight A” student?

    No, you just have to be dedicated and committed to earning your Associate of Arts Degree or core college credit while you earn your high school diploma.


    Can I participate in athletics or band?

    Due to the rigor of the courses and time commitment needed in the Associate Degree Pathway, students are advised prior to participating in extracurricular activities like band, theater, and athletics in order to determine how such activities will fit within their academic schedule. Additionally, we have many clubs and student organizations, such as Future Farmers of America, Student Counsel, National Honor Society, Texas Association of Future Educators, Spanish, and Yearbook that are available to all ECHS students.


    Do ECHS students take classes with college students?

    Yes, students in the 11th and 12th grades could take college classes with other PAC students if the course is taken at the PAC campus.


    What happens if I am not prepared for college classes?

    That is what the ECHS teachers and support teams are here for….support! They teach you during your mentor time how to organize, study, plan, take notes & manage your time. They talk to you about your future career and educational options and opportunities.


    Will the Early College High School offer online courses?

    Yes, courses may be offered online as well as face to face, in the distance learning lab at the ECHS, and at the Palo Alto College campus.


    What supplies do I need for Early College High School?

    All you need are the same basic school supplies as are needed for a traditional high school.


    Will the students be required to wear school uniforms?

    No, but they still have to follow the high school dress code.


    Will students go on field trips to the college?

    Yes, six field trips will be scheduled to the Palo Alto College campus during the 2016-2017 school year.


    Do I have to pay for my college classes?

    No, and that is the best thing, SSAISD will pay for all tuition, books, and fees while the student is enrolled at South San Antonio Early College Academy.


    Will my college credits transfer to a 2 or 4-year college or university?

    All credits earned during your four years at SSAECA may be transferred to any public college or university in Texas and could be transferred to out of state public and private schools depending on their transfer of college credit policies.


    What happens if students choose to leave the ECHS program?

    Since South San Antonio Early College High School is on the main high school campus, students will be allowed to possibly opt into a different pathway if they meet certain criteria and timelines.


    Are students allowed to change endorsements in high school?

    Yes, students will be allowed to change their endorsement at any time.


    Do students have the option to double up in courses and graduate early?

    Yes, students may take additional courses outside of the ECHS as an early admit student if accepted by Palo Alto College. Any course tuition and/or fees for courses taken outside of the ECHS program will be the responsibility of the student and his or her family.


    If students get behind, can they accelerate and get caught up?

    Yes, we will offer a number of student support services to assist students who are struggling academically.


    Is the ECHS program like financial aid?

     Since there is no money given to the students to help with the cost of college tuition and supplies, it is not like traditional financial aid, but it can be looked at as a scholarship since it provides the opportunity for students to earn up to 60 hours of college credit at no cost to the students or their family.


    Will students be able to apply for scholarships?

    Yes, students will be able to apply for scholarships to assist with the cost of continuing their education after high school graduation.


    Is it possible for students to earn more than 60 hours of college credit while in high school?

    This is not possible if the student follows the four-year Associates Degree program as designed by the ECHS. However, if the student is accepted to Palo Alto College or other college/university as an early admit student, they may possibly be able to earn additional credit by taking college classes in the evening or during the summer. Any cost for a college course taken outside of the early college high school will be the responsibility of the student.


    What is the highest degree that can be obtained during the four years that the student is enrolled in the early college high school?

    An Associate of Arts Degree is the highest degree a student can earn from Palo Alto College at South San Antonio Early College High School.


    Will students be allowed to decline attendance to the early college?

    Yes, if needed, a student may decline their participation in the South San Antonio Early College Academy. Beginning their 10th grade year, South San High School students will be able to choose from two dual credit pathways - the College Ready Pathway and the Career Ready Pathway. However, students under normal circumstances will not be permitted to move from the College Ready or Career Ready Pathway back to early college academy.


    Are the dual credit courses aligned to the district’s curriculum?

    Yes, all dual credit courses will be aligned to the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills standards.


    Will the ECHS schedule be aligned to the regular high school day and district calendar?

    Dual credit courses taught at the Early College High School will be in line with the district’s academic calendar and bell schedule. Courses taken at Palo Alto College will follow the schedule as defined by the college.


    Can students be dropped from a college course?

    Yes, in order to avoid penalties, students who are academically deficient in a dual credit course may be dropped. These students may need to be removed from the early college. Students are not allowed to drop classes on their own. Student drops must be facilitated by the counselor or early college director.


    Will students take midterm and final exams for both the college and the ECHS course?

    Students will take midterm exams and finals, but the test will count for both the ECHS and the college. Students enrolled in dual credit courses may possibly take separate exams for each school.


    How many dual credit courses will students take per semester and year?

    South San Antonio Early College Academy students will only take one to two dual credit courses per semester during their first two years. Juniors and seniors will take from three to four dual credit courses each semester.


    Will progress reports and report cards be provided for the college courses?

    Yes, the students will be given their grades and their performance in the dual credit courses at regular intervals during the semester.


    Will students have opportunities for tutoring?

    Yes, tutoring centers may be available to assist students in need before and after school, during the evening, and on weekends. Students will also be able to seek assistance with their dual credit classes and Palo Alto College.


    Will the Summer Bridge Program conflict with the Pre-freshman Engineering Program (PREP) at UTSA?

    No, the Summer Bridge Program will not be scheduled during the time that PREP is in session.


    What facilities are at Palo Alto College will be available to the ECHS students?

    All students in the early college high school have access to the same facilities and recourses as do regular Palo Alto College students.


    What Is the TSI Assessment?

    The TSI Assessment is a program designed to help your institution determine if you are ready for college-level course work in the general areas of reading, writing and mathematics. This program will also help determine what type of course or intervention will best meet your needs to help you become better prepared for college-level course work if you are not ready.


    What is a passing score on the TSI?

    You Cannot Pass or Fail the TSI Assessment.  Based on how you perform, you may either be:

    Enrolled in a college-level course that matches your skill level.

    Placed in the appropriate developmental course or intervention to improve your skills and prepare you for success in college-level courses.


    Who needs to prepare for the TSI Assessment?

    Eighth grade students who have applied for the South San Early College Academy will take the TSI Assessment in the spring of their eighth grade year. All other students will be administered the test prior to the end of their freshman year.


    How much does it cost to take the TSI Assessment?

    The TSI Assessment will be administered at no cost to the students or their families.


    How long does the TSI Assessment take?

    The TSI Assessment is not a timed test. The average time to complete all three sections of the test is 5 - 8 hours. We recommend that you do not take all three sections at the same time.


    Will the TSI Assessments interfere with the STARR Exam?

    No, the TSI Assessment will be scheduled in the spring after the STAAR is administered. A second TSI Assessment will be given during the summer and third will be offered prior to the end of the first semester.


    Can I use a calculator or reference sheets for the assessment?

    No, calculators are not allowed to be used on the TSI Assessment. A calculator will appear on screen during sections where usage is appropriate. No study materials or reference materials may be used during the test. Also, cellular phones and all other communication devices are strictly prohibited in the testing room.


    When will I get my TSI Assessment scores?

    The TSI Assessment is scored immediately upon completion. Students will be given an unofficial copy of scores for advising purposes.


    How do I interpret my TSI Assessment scores?

    Following your test, you may visit the Early College High School Advisor to interpret your scores.


    If I need a better score, can I take the TSI assessment again?

    Yes, you will have several opportunities to retest as needed. Please see a counselor or Early College High School Advisor for the current testing schedule.


    How can I study for the TSI Assessment?

    Yes, several study guide options are available on the Preparing for the TSI Assessment page. Please visit the South San Antonio Early College High School Advising Center for additional information on preparing for the TSI Assessment.

     If you have additional questions, please email us at earlycollege@southsanisd.net