Articulated credit program gives high school students an opportunity to earn college credit

Posted on: February 28, 2012

Tech Prep, a successful program for more than 15 years, gave high school students an opportunity to earn free college credit during their high school years.

Last September, federal and state funding for Tech Prep ended thus eliminating the program.

A group of determined educational leaders, however, wouldn’t allow the purpose of the program to end with Tech Prep.

Their actions paved the way for the new Educators Alliance for Articulated Credit that provides college credit technical courses to students in 19 independent school districts in a four-county area.

College of the Mainland, along with Alvin Community College and San Jacinto Community College, is participating in the new program.

It serves approximately 45,000 students in 36 high schools, including the entire COM service area.

The structure of the program has changed but the goal of student success remains intact.

“Studies reflect that students who are more engaged in their classes and can see the relevance to the every day world are much more likely to graduate from high school and pursue career interests and skills in postsecondary programs,” said Pam Bethscheider, the program’s director.

High school instructors, with training from their collegiate counterparts, teach the courses that are free to the high school students.

“It has value in three major areas,” COM Dean of Industrial/Technical Programs Bill Raley said. “It really helps establish the linkage between our area school districts and the colleges, it provides a quick link for high school students to gain college credit at essentially no cost, and it opens the eyes for high school students to career possibilities.”

The students have a six-year plan that begins during their freshman year of high school.

They can earn up to 12 articulated credits toward associate in applied science degree or certificates in majors such as business administration, child development/education, criminal justice, drafting, emergency medical services, graphic/web design, health information management and nursing.

“These students participate in rigorous course work that captures their attention and teaches problem solving skills,” Bethscheider said. “These rigorous career and technical education classes complement the core academic classes. During this time of economic uncertainty, these opportunities are needed more than ever.”

COM Interim President Dr. Larry Durrence and COM Vice President for Instruction Dr. Amy Locklear attended a superintendent’s meeting for the program, Feb. 3 at Alvin Community College. They were both pleased with the direction of the program.

“It’s very positive, a great avenue for students,” Locklear said. “This program in high school can give them a foot into a career track.”

Local ISD leaders support the program as well.

“We appreciate it very much,” said Kim Rich, Santa Fe ISD’s Career and Technical Education (CTE) director. “We think it’s beneficial for our teachers and students. We’re always looking at ways to increase what we want to articulate.”

Texas City ISD Assistant Principal Richard Chapa said TCHS is excited about the new program.

“We were immediately one of the districts that jumped aboard,” he said.

To receive credit, students must complete an articulated CTE class with an 80 average, graduate from high school on their recommended plan and enroll in an associate in applied science program that helps them work toward their chosen field of study. The student will skip the college-level course if they obtain the credit, thus saving them time and money.

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