Early College High Schools (ECHS)

Tuition-free college credit with support for college readiness

By blending high school and college coursework, ECHS gives students, particularly historically underserved and at-risk students the opportunity to earn up to two years of college credit (60 hours), tuition-free, while earning a high school diploma. Originally, when the Texas Education Agency (TEA) launched the initiative, ECHS facilities were located at college or university campuses. As the program has grown, its design and delivery have changed to meet the needs of individual schools. The ECHS model has increased college readiness across Texas, providing rigorous instruction and coursework as well as academic and social support.

Objectives of ECHS

  • Engage first-generation college attendees 
  • Provide dual credit at no cost to students
  • Offer courses that mirror a college setting, with academic counseling to help students develop the skills needed for post-high school success
  • Increase college enrollment and success rates for all students
  • Strengthen connections between middle schools, high schools and higher education institutions to promote a culture of college readiness


The ECHS Blueprint

The TEA developed a roadmap of benchmarks and program requirements that are essential to the model’s success. Each benchmark is a consideration for designation as an ECHS campus, and must be included as part of the application. These benchmarks include:

  • Target population
  • Partnership agreement
  • P-16 leadership initiatives
  • Curriculum and support
  • Academic rigor and readiness
  • School design

For information on ECHS designation:

Early College High Schools provide students with highly personalized attention and encourage lasting relationships with teachers and classmates. The experience creates a college-like culture that encourages students to continue their higher education journey.

2018-2019 Blueprint2017-2018 Blueprint ECHS ResourcesECHS School Listing