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Early College HS

Early College High SchoolEarly College High School

Union Public Schools and Tulsa Community College are embarking on a joint venture to create an Early College High School (ECHS) program that will be among the first of its kind in the state, pending final approval by the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education in October.

This pilot program provides eligible Union High School students the opportunity to earn 60 college credits concurrently while attending Union High School; students who complete the program will receive both an associate degree and a high school diploma upon graduation.

While Union has offerd concurrent classes of eligible students to several years, this program will present a cohort of 50-60 students with a unique Early College High School experience.  TCC instructors will teach rigorous college-level courses on-site at Union High School. The courses offered at Union and at TCC will include the general education requirements many local universities require in the initial two years of post-secondary education.  Students qualifying for the program will have the opportunity to earn 60 hours of college credit and an associate degree in a Liberal Arts field.

Lisa Witcher

Lisa Witcher / Biography
Executive Director of Secondary Education

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Expectations are high . . . for students and the ECHS program. Through the cooperative and shared use of resources, personnel, and facilities, TCC and Union Public Schools will provide access to higher education while reducing the barriers to college completion.

This pilot program will set the stage for how Early College High School is implemented in Oklahoma.  The State Regents for Higher Education is committed to helping improve college graduation rates in Oklahoma, as well as helping to create more first-generation college students.

The program is also a direct response to Oklahoma’s workforce needs, as employers struggle to find enough qualified employees to fill positions in high-growth industries.  

“We are excited to create an Early College High School pilot program at Union Public Schools with a strategic emphasis on recruiting ‘first generation’ college students.  TCC has been a terrific partner in offering concurrent enrollment opportunities at Union Collegiate Academy, and this is the next step in the evolution of that program. By offering high school students the chance to earn an associate degree, I believe we can grow the pipeline for students entering college and improve Oklahoma’s graduation rates. Ultimately, it is our hope that this pilot program will become the model for how Early College is implemented across the state.”   — Dr. Kirt Hartzler, Superintendent, Union Public Schools

“As the leader in Oklahoma with nearly 2,000 concurrent students, we believe this pilot will serve as a statewide model for how students can complete high school and college.  We know from TCC’s numbers that students who take college courses while still in high school are more likely to graduate high school and earn a college degree.  This is the first pilot of its kind in size and scope in Oklahoma, and it involves the third largest college and the sixth largest high school in the state. We are very excited about what this means for our students, our community and our ability to produce high school and college graduates ready for the workforce.”     — Leigh Goodson, Ph.D., TCC President & CEO

Breaking Down the Barriers to College

Early College High School at Union Public Schools will target first-generation college students, those who come from families who have had no experience with college or expectation that their children will attend a university.

By putting students on-track for college before they leave high school, we plan to change the life trajectory for many young people. Ultimately, we hope to improve college graduation rates in Oklahoma, while better preparing students for a successful career in high-demand fields with potentially higher salaries.

“In the 21st century, a broader range of [employee] skillsets are needed.  We are moving into an era where creativity and intellectual capital are more valuable than they’ve ever been in our history.  So having a program at Union that is preparing high school students for success on a collegiate level is a tremendous step forward for us as a city, for having a workforce that can help companies grow.”  — Mayor G.T. Bynum, City of Tulsa