Brackenridge High School will soon debut an elite first for the San Antonio region — it will contain an early college high school, one that would provide its students with the opportunity to earn an Associates’ degree or get 60 hours of college credit prior to graduating school. However, unlike its fellow ECHS providers, it will still retain all the staples of traditional high school life, like athletics, and football.
Brackenridge will also have another differentiator, to set it apart from Travis Early College High School, near San Antonio College, and the St. Philip’s Early College School on the St. Philip’s campus: Its students will earn their credits in house, instead of going across to nearby college campuses for additional classes.
On Monday night, the Board of the San Antonio Independent School District unanimously approved the creation of this Brackenridge-style new ECHS model, a pilot school-within-a-school project. The approval was just a first step in the process for submitting a formal application to the Texas Education Agency.
Deputy Superintendent for Instruction, Matt Weber, said the Brackenridge system looked to retain all the elements that made up a holistic high school feel. “They’ll have the opportunity to participate in fine arts, in athletics, in whatever extra-curricular activity they’re interested. They’ll have a more complete traditional high school experience.”
It will operate within Brackenridge as a separate entity, a model that Board President Ed Garza said he’d eventually like to see at all of SAISD’s high schools. “The way we look at it is every part of our district has students that are at risk. They deserve a pathway early on, before they graduate, so that they are dedicated and realize that college is accessible.”
Most students at the Brackenridge ECHS will take classes towards a liberal arts degree with a focus on international studies. Brackenridge already has a magnet dedicated to world languages and students will have the opportunity to take classes there as well. The school plans to start with 125 freshmen in its first year and add an additional grade level each year. 90 percent of the ECHS will be reserved for Brackenridge’s feeder schools, Page Middle School, Bonham Academy, and some of Poe Middle School. The other 10 percent will be kept for applications from out-of-district students.
To be considered for enrollment, students would be required to take an assessment and complete a questionnaire about themselves, in addition to writing an essay. The criteria for acceptance would include whether or not they are a first generation college student, economically disadvantaged, at-risk, or from a minority community. Students must meet at least one of those conditions, while recommendations from teachers are also taken into account.
If more than 125 eligible students apply each year, each name will be entered into a lottery to determine who finally makes the cut.
At a later stage, students would also have to pass the Texas Success Initiative Assessment (TSI), which would allow them to take the dual-credit classes necessary for a degree.
The district hopes to have the first class up and running by next Fall. Brackenridge High School had already undergone extensive renovations following the 2010 SAISD Bond.