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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Low-income students receiving head start

Student+P.J.+Landa+of+the+introductory+class+that+has+been+dubbed+the+Marine+Creek+Collegiate+High+School+writes+on+the+white+board+as+his+classmates+call+out+examples.+Photo+by+Casey+Holder%2FThe+Collegian
Student P.J. Landa of the introductory class that has been dubbed the Marine Creek Collegiate High School writes on the white board as his classmates call out examples. Photo by Casey Holder/The Collegian

By Michelle Roberts/reporter

Student P.J. Landa of the introductory class that has been dubbed the Marine Creek Collegiate High School writes on the white board as his classmates call out examples. Photo by Casey Holder/The Collegian
Student P.J. Landa of the introductory class that has been dubbed the Marine Creek Collegiate High School writes on the white board as his classmates call out examples. Photo by Casey Holder/The Collegian

Through a partnership between NW Campus and Lake Worth High School, a group of ninth graders have an opportunity to become the first in their families to earn a college degree.

Dubbed Marine Creek Collegiate High School, this program, based on a model developed by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, is not bound by the rules of a traditional dual-credit program.

The early college program fully integrates students into the college experience and utilizes a blended curriculum that allows students to earn their associate degree while earning their high school diploma.

“It is our intention that every one of them graduate high school with 60 hours of college credit,” said Gary Goodwin, vice president of continuing education services and liaison among TCC, Lake Worth High School and the Texas Education Agency.

A formal agreement between the three institutions allowed for the establishment of this first-of-its-kind early college high school program in Tarrant County.

Marine Creek Collegiate freshmen will spend six hours of every school day on NW Campus, literally a school within a school. 

Unlike dual-credit students, early college high school students get more than a taste of college. They receive both high school and college course work in an environment of higher education.

“If we can create a college-going attitude at Marine Creek Collegiate High School,” Goodwin said, “that’s what we want to do.”

Dr. Elva LeBlanc, NW president, told the TCCD board of trustees in May, “TCCD has agreed to assume more of the financial obligation than we might normally have, but the Lake Worth ISD is an economically challenged district. … The research relative to this program has been very positive. Students are more likely to attend and to complete high school as well as earn college hours.”

The early college high school program was not developed for gifted and talented students but instead serves low-income young people. They are first-generation college goers, often English-language learners, and largely students of color.

According to the Early College High School Initiative, these students “are statistically underrepresented in higher education and for whom society often has low aspirations for academic achievement.”

While the Marine Creek Collegiate High School is the first in Tarrant County, more than 200 similar programs exist across the country.

The Early College High School Initiative reports phenomenal success.

In 2006 and 2007, the first two years of the program, 250 graduates earned merit-based scholarships, 57 percent graduated high school with an associate degree and 80 percent earned acceptance into four-year institutions.

One of the members of the freshman class of Marine Creek Collegiate agrees that NW Campus has given them a worthwhile opportunity.

“Being here makes me proud,” said Ray Morren, who like many of his classmates struggles with family issues and the adjustment problems they often create.

“It’s a really good opportunity for all of us,” Amanda Chavez said. “It means I can go to college. It means I can have a better life than my dad.”

 

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