Project Descriptions

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 Dual Credit Programs

El Paso Community College’s Dual Credit Program has continued to grow dramatically. The program has several goals: (1) jump start high school students’ acquisition of certificate and degree applicable college courses, (2) serve as an incentive to high school students to pursue a higher education degree, (3) show high school students that higher education coursework is clearly within their reach, both academically as well as financially, and (4) serve as a catalyst for the high school student to decide to continue their education after graduating from high school.

Currently over 2500 students in 30 plus high schools, both public and private, enroll in dual credit college classes in the El Paso region. As one of the poorest communities in the United States, the one single act that catapulted students into dual credit classes in record numbers was the College President’s recommendation to the Board of Trustees to waive tuition and fees for students. Complementing this was the agreement from the schools districts to purchase the textbooks for the students. These two actions leveled the playing field for all students, allowing for participation on the basis of interest and desire, and not financial.

Another advantage of participation in the Dual Credit Program is the reduction in the “time to degree completion,” both for the Associate Degree as well as the Bachelors Degree. Also, students enrolled in dual credit online courses outperform the traditional college student.  The reasons for this include a designated time each day in the high school computer lab to complete assignments and the availability of a Bachelor degreed teacher in the same field as the course to serve as a tutor.

The expansion of the Dual Credit Program is only limited by the availability of college credentialed faculty. The University of Texas at El Paso, through its Teachers for a New Era Program, is working collaboratively with school districts to assist teachers desiring to attend graduate school and acquire degrees and coursework needed to be fully college credentialed.

 Early College High School Program

The concept of Early College High Schools in El Paso, Texas is still in its infancy. It was just four short years ago that EPCC learned about these schools, and in that time has created four of them. The premise is simple: believe that motivated students with varying degrees of preparation can achieve beyond expectations. Case in point, the El Paso Community College-Independent School District Early College High School Model. In these schools, in four years, students obtain a high school diploma and an Associates Degree (60 fully transferable college credit hours in a variety of fields). Students do not pay college tuition, the textbooks are provided by the school districts, and the student takes college courses both in their high school classroom taught by a fully college credentialed instructor and enroll in college classes taught in college classrooms on the college campus by full-time or adjunct college faculty.  To date all of our expectations have been exceeded. As example, at the end of their junior year of high school, 23 students in our very first Early College High School will graduate with Associate degrees and enter the University of Texas at El Paso as juniors in college.  They will continue to take courses in their senior year of high school and graduate from high school at the same time they complete their junior year of college.

The four Early College High Schools currently in operation in El Paso, Texas are:

  • Mission Early College High School in partnership with Socorro ISD. Mission has Freshman, Sophomores, and Juniors.
  • Northwest Early College High School in partnership with Canutillo ISD. Northwest has Freshman.
  • Transmountain Early College High School in partnership with El Paso ISD. Transmountain has Freshman.
  • Valle Verde Early College High School in partnership with Ysleta ISD. Valle Verde has Freshman and Sophomore students.

Northwest and Transmountain are designated TSTEM High Schools (Texas Science, Technology, Engineering and Math).  A fifth Early College High School, Cotton Valley, will open in August 2010. This school is a collaboration between four small rural school districts: Fabens ISD, San Elizario ISD, Tornillo ISD and Ft. Hancock ISD. Two additional Early College High Schools are in discussion stage.

 Post Secondary Articulation

El Paso Community College (EPCC) places a special emphasis on the establishment of postsecondary agreements with neighboring and some distant universities.  In the El Paso area the two most prominent universities are the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP), where most EPCC students transfer to, and New Mexico State University (NMSU) in Las Cruces, New Mexico (less than an hours drive from El Paso).  A Memorandum of Understanding regarding articulation and transfer between these two institutions assures that a seamless and smooth pathway exists for EPCC students transitioning into the university.  Facilitating the process is the EPCC-UTEP and EPCC-NMSU Articulation Committees, which includes representatives from the two institutions.

Transfer of credits is the one most single issue that student cite regarding their experience in moving from the community college to the university.  EPCC, UTEP and NMSU have taken on this responsibility to ensure that the transfer experience is a positive one for the student.  The articulation committees also sponsor a meeting of administrators and faculty leaders from the institutions to help address issues that potentially may be impediments to transfer, as well as topics that will enhance the students transfer experience.

El Paso Community College also collaborates with more distant universities to facilitate a smooth transition for students choosing to attend these institutions.  Articulation agreements vary in scope, but common through all of them is the intent to maximize the number of credit hours accepted by the receiving institution.

 Start Right Initiative

The Start Right Initiative at El Paso Community College (EPCC) is the newest endeavor undertaken. Just in its infancy, this project has the potential of having the greatest impact on the lives and experiences of EPCC students. It casts a wide net over many of the experiences a student will have at the college, beginning at the point when a student says I want to attend EPCC and extending to the time the student walks across the stage as a proud graduate of El Paso Community College.

Organizationally, the Start Right Initiative is comprised of a Steering Committee and four Work Groups, including the Entering New Student, Retention, Instructional Intervention, and Beyond. The goal is simple: Ensure that each and every student enrolling at El Paso Community College is treated professionally and courteously throughout their time at EPCC. Additionally, safety nets are cast far and wide to help student reach their potential and their career aspirations. In short, “Failure is not an Option.”

The Entering New Student Work Group is charged with successfully matriculating the student into the college, through the maze of departments and requirements, and delivering him/her into the classroom and lab for the beginning of an exciting educational adventure. Among the issues to be addressed are orientation, placement testing and financial aid.

The Retention Work Group is charged with setting up mechanisms that will ensure that the student is able to progress satisfactorily through their studies, both academically as well as in a reasonable timeframe. The creation of an early alert system, advising and mentoring, and support programs to aid students in distress, either academically or personally, will be designed.

The Instructional Intervention Work Group targets the curriculum and its delivery. Among the initiatives addressed by this group are faculty development, alternative instructional delivery methods, and the use of technology to complement and strengthen student learning.

The Beyond Work Group takes the student through to graduation and beyond. The focus is on completing degree and certificate programs of study, job placements and career advising.  In other words, does the student have an end goal in sight, and does he/she achieve it? A degree just to have a degree is not acceptable.

Start Right is like planning a cross country trip, with the point of departure being admission to the college and the destination the achievement of a certificate or degree and the resulting use of it (transfer into a university or employment).