Northwest ISD’s Board of Trustees voted unanimously this week to move forward with plans to transition Steele Accelerated High School to an Early College High School for the 2021-2022 academic year, according to a news release from the district.
“We are so excited to be able to provide this opportunity to our students,” said Ryder Warren, NISD superintendent of schools. “We’ve been discussing this possibility for years, and our board and leadership team are finally able to take this step to expand our students’ options without impacting the budget.”
Through a partnership with Tarrant County College, students in the Early College High School would have the chance to pursue — at no cost to the student — both a high school diploma and an associate degree or two years of college credit toward a bachelor’s degree.
“In Northwest ISD, our mission is to prepare all students to confidently navigate their future, and we intentionally emphasize ‘all’ students,” Warren said. “Affordable, attainable access to higher education is an opportunity that can change a life, and we are grateful that this partnership with Tarrant County College will provide our kids access to a degree when the roadblocks and financial challenges might otherwise be too much.”
The program is targeted toward traditionally underserved students, including those who are classified as “at-risk,” students who are economically marginalized and students who may be the first in their families to attend college, who are highly motivated, who may be English language learners, are likely to experience difficulty in transitioning to postsecondary education and have limited financial resources, according to the district. Steele Accelerated High School currently serves 232 students in small learning communities where students are focused on achieving an associate’s degree, completing their core 42 college credit hours or participating in an individualized high school setting. The campus also houses the Collegiate Academy, Cosmetology Academy, Rise and Horizons programs and non-academy students.
Currently housed within Steele Accelerated High School, the Cosmetology Academy will be open to the current students at Steele and rising juniors from all comprehensive high schools for the 2021-2022 school year. Students will split their school day between Steele AHS and their home campus. Rise and Horizons programs will be housed at the former Haslet Elementary campus on Schoolhouse Road in Haslet.
Participation in ECHS for 2021-2022 will be open to current eighth-grade students only. Eighth-grade students who requested enrollment in the Collegiate Academy and were placed will be automatically changed to the ECHS option, according to the news release. Over a four-year period, a new set of students will be added to ECHS as incoming ninth graders each year. During the transition to an ECHS, the district will continue to operate the Collegiate Academy in its current form to support students until graduation.