We met Evelyn and Greg Galvan-Rojas as they arrived at the downtown Waco ISD building one recent morning to take and pass a test which would allow them to enroll in dual credit classes when school starts in August. They will both be ninth graders at University High this fall. Both are already practicing with their respective soccer teams at University hoping to play for the varsity. That’s where their paths diverge.
Evelyn wants to earn her associates degree in criminal justice, to learn about investigations and debate, all by the time she finishes high school. Her hope is she might be a lawyer one day. Greg wants to study education in training and become a soccer coach, after he finishes playing at UHS. He’s also thought about playing soccer and studying at either Stanford or Rice University if he succeeds. Both are determined to ACCELERATE into the ninth grade, complete their high school diploma, and earn an Associate’s degree at the same time. They aren’t the only ones at Waco ISD working towards a similar goal.
The ACCELERATE Early Degree program is Waco ISD's newest program to help students realize their dream of completing an Associate’s degree by the time they graduate from high school.
The new program, according to Scott McClanahan, Director of Advanced Academic Services, offers degree paths in Allied Health, Information Systems & Technology, Business, Criminal Justice, Science, and Liberal Arts.
Incoming ninth graders at University High School and Waco High School began testing during the spring to participate in the program. Sixty-six Waco ISD students qualified and were able to begin summer classes at McLennan Community College.
In June, incoming ninth graders attended an orientation and two week boot camp to test for participation. Seventy-one students have already qualified to begin their college coursework this fall while completing their high school graduation requirements. In order to qualify, students had to achieve a score of 351 or greater on the TSI Reading test.
The TSI Assessment is a program designed to help colleges determine if students are ready for college-level course work in the general areas of reading, writing and mathematics. There were an additional 27 students who were within 10 points of passing the test and qualifying. Evelyn and Greg are two of those who were just shy of the score they needed in Algebra. They, along with others, are being encouraged to test again this summer, pass the test, and gain admission to the early degree program.
Thanks to the Tax Ratification Election passed by Waco residents this past November, all the courses - as well as the books and materials - are offered to Waco ISD students at no cost to them or their families. If Evelyn and Greg are any indication Waco ISD students are going to be quite successful.