SB 1146, 79th Texas Legislature, Regular Session, 2005, amended the TEC, §29.908, establishing the early college education program for students who are at risk of dropping out of school or who wish to accelerate completion of the high school program. Rider 59 of Senate Bill 1, also passed by the 79th Texas Legislature, Regular Session, 2005, authorizes the use of funds for programs that show the most potential to improve high school. The early college education program is to provide for a course of study that enables a participating student to combine high school courses and college-level courses during Grades 9-12. On or before the fifth anniversary of a student's first day of high school, a participating student must be able to receive both a high school diploma and either an associate degree or at least 60 credit hours toward a baccalaureate degree. TEC, §29.908, authorizes the commissioner to adopt rules as necessary to establish the early college education program.
In 2007, the Texas Education Agency granted Bryan ISD a three year start-up grant in order to open an early college high school. In the fall of 2007 Bryan Collegiate High School opened its doors with approximately 100 freshmen and has continued to add 100 more students each year. Early college is a bold approach to high school reform. It is based on the principle that academic rigor, combined with the opportunity to save time and money, is a powerful motivator for students to work hard and meet serious intellectual challenges. Early college schools blend high school and college in a rigorous, yet supportive program, compressing the time it takes to complete a high school diploma and the first two years of college. The schools are designed so that low-income youth, first-generation college students, English language learners, students of color, and other young people underrepresented in higher education can simultaneously earn a high school diploma and one to two years of transferable college credit tuition free. Today, Texas is home to 44 early college high schools and 5 blended early College High School/Texas Science, Technology, engineering and mathematics (T-STEM) academies serving more than 10,000 students across the state and there are more than 47,000 students served in 24 states. Click here to find the locations of other Texas early college high schools