Monday, May 13, 2013

First Graduating Class: Early College High School at Midland College (ECHS@MC)

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From Rebecca Bell
Dean, Community Relations & Special Events

Last Friday, May 10, students in the first class of ECHS@MC received associate degrees during Midland College’s (MC) 40th commencement ceremony. On this coming Friday, May 17, those 17- and 18-year-old college graduates will receive high school diplomas when ECHS@MC observes their first high school graduation ceremony. The ceremony will take place at 8:00 p.m. at the Al G. Langford Chaparral Center on the MC campus.

ECHS@MC is a joint educational commitment by MC and the Midland Independent School District. The majority of students attending the high school located on the MC campus include underserved minority, low-income and potential first-generation college students who often lack family resources and experiences with higher education.

In the fall of 2009, the first cohort of more than 100 ninth-grade students were admitted into ECHS@MC. Now, four years later, 73 percent of these students graduated from Midland College last Friday and will be transferring to four-year universities. This means that these students have the potential of graduating with baccalaureate degrees by the time they are 20! When a sample of ECHS@MC students were surveyed about plans after obtaining bachelor degrees, 3 out of 5 stated that they wanted to return to Midland, mainly because the community has been so generous to them in providing scholarships and educational resources. They want to reside in Midland in order to work, raise families and “give back” to the community.

The early college high school philosophy is not unique to Midland; however, the first graduating class of ECHS@MC does have one of the highest percentages of students receiving both associate degrees and high school diplomas in the state. While many early college high school students do receive college credit, many do not receive enough credit to obtain a degree. In addition, since its opening in 2009, ECHS@MC has always had the highest state test scores in MISD, as well as the best discipline and attendance reports.

“Early College High School at Midland College is closing the achievement gaps among different demographic groups,” stated MC President Dr. Steve Thomas. “Because of this successful partnership between MC and MISD and the support that both entities are able to give these students, they are successful in their high school classes as well as their college courses. We set the standards high, and ECHS@MC students have not disappointed us.”

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