The Early College High School (ECHS) Initiative at El Paso Community College (EPCC) provides students in the Far West Texas region the opportunity to complete an associate degree before graduating from high school. The first ECHS opened in 2006, and now EPCC has partnered with six independent school districts to create twelve ECHS’s. The EPCC ECHS Initiative works closely with its partners to support ECHS students while maintaining academic rigor and creating a college environment by focusing on “college first”.
The premise of an ECHS is to provide an accelerated environment for motivated students who, along with their family, have made the commitment to pursue this higher goal. These are students who may not have otherwise had the opportunity to pursue a college education.
To date, approximately 2,500 students are attending EPCC’s ECHS’s. The schools recruit economically disadvantaged, first-generation, English Language Learners, and minority students. The majority of the EPCC ECHS student population is Latino and economically disadvantaged. The college graduation rate for ECHS students at EPCC is significantly higher than the national average (24%). For the 2016-2017, academic year, 74.2% of EPCC ECHS students graduated with an Associate’s Degree, and the schools have a 100% high school graduation rate. Some ECHS students complete their associate degree during their junior year and take courses towards their bachelor degree at University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) while still in high school.