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Mission-Collegiate-High-School-crestMISSION — The Texas Education Agency (TEA) notified Mission Consolidated Independent School District officials that its application for an Early College High School has been approved. District officials have given the new school the name, Mission Collegiate High School.

“This is great news for the Mission CISD school community,” said Superintendent Cornelio Gonzalez. “We have been working closely with our partners at South Texas College in developing this new school for over a year. While we knew our application to TEA was strong, you never know until the official word is given.”

The Mission Collegiate High School will begin with a freshman class of 125 students this fall. The school will start with some portable classroom buildings currently housed within the Mission High School grounds. This is only a temporary location. District officials are currently working on finalizing a permanent location for MCHS, possibly on some property the district owns on Four Mile Line and Stewart Road.

“This really helps open the door to college for students who might not otherwise go to college,” Gonzalez said. “Through MCHS, we are focusing on first generation college goers, economically disadvantaged students, at-risk students and English language learners. This can also help our entire community by breaking some cycles of poverty that exist.”

Gonzalez said that through a more structured student support and smaller learning community provided in the MCHS, students should be able to transition to a point that they are taking most, if not all of their classes at STC. He said the goal is for the student to either earn an associate’s degree or to earn enough college credit to transfer to a four-year college/university as a junior. Students will have the opportunity to earn up to 60 college credits at no charge.

“This can greatly improve the chances of these students completing a four-year college degree,” Gonzalez said.

MCHS opens with a freshman class of up to 125 students and will expand a grade level until it is serving students in grades 9-12. At that point, MCHS may serve a total student body of 450 to 475 students. Each spring, interested eighth-grade students will have the opportunity to apply to MCHS.

MCISD officials said they will also continue to focus on the other resources available to students interested in trying to earn college credit while in high school. Currently, MCISD high school students can earn college credit through Advanced Placement courses, dual enrollment courses, or concurrent enrollment courses. Operation College Bound helps ensure all graduating seniors have completed financial aid and entrance applications. MCISD also requires all students to take a two-semester college readiness course for graduation.

The school is one of six new partners with South Texas College including Edinburg, Edinburg Economedes, PSJA Memorial, La Joya STEM and La Villa Early College Schools. The group joins STC’s current partners, increasing the college’s early college high schools to 15.

Progreso ISD was the first school district to partner with the college in 2007, and graduated the first cohort in 2011. Last May, cohorts from five STC Early College High School partners graduated students with associate degrees.

“STC, as part of its comprehensive mission, commits to partner with the area’s school districts to lead the transformation of the region to a college-going culture whereby attending and completing higher education is expected for all,” said Juan E. Mejia, STC president for academic affairs. “Our Office of High School Programs and Services is focused on implementing innovative approaches that continue to provide access with affordability to all the high school students in our community.”

Early College High Schools are built on the foundation of authentic partnerships between public schools and higher education, with the purpose of providing a pathway to a college-going and college completion culture through college knowledge, academic rigor, affordability, and providing the participating students the opportunity to graduate with a high school diploma and up to an associate degree.

“Leadership teams from the college and respective school districts have been working together through the meticulous planning phase,” Mejia said. “We could not be happier as we are seeing a model that works taken to scale.”

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