Dallas ISD program lets high schoolers earn college degree

Students from eight Dallas ISD high schools will have the opportunity to earn an associate’s degree and a high school diploma at the same time.

The high schools will be matched to a Dallas County community college. Each high school will have a wing set aside for 100 freshmen entering the Collegiate Academy.

“It is a game changer for these young families,” said DISD Superintendent Michael Hinojosa. “These families will get a free education and the commitment that the community college has made.”

School officials say the ninth and tenth graders will stay at their respective high schools. During their junior and senior years, the students will spend up to 95 percent of their day taking their college classes.

“These 800 students are going to be over twice as likely to earn a post-secondary credential as students who just simply go through the traditional route,” explained DCCCD Chancellor Joe May.

Jose "Tito" Lopez and Carla Rangel are headed to A&M on academic scholarships. They are 2 of 27 Samuel High School students getting associate degrees before they receive high school diplomas.

“I learned how to manage my time,” said Rangel. “I have been put in situations now where I can fix the problem.”

Lopez came back to DISD from a charter school just for this program.

“The opportunities I had there compared to the opportunities now at Samuel were way different,” explained Lopez.

A few years ago, Samuel High School was one of the failing schools in Dallas. However, school officials say placing the Collegiate Academy there managed to turn it around. The school is now ranked in the top half of DISD’s schools.

The superintendent hopes taking the Collegiate Academy model to other high schools will generate the same results. The district has more than 13,000 applications from incoming freshmen for only 800 positions.