On Friday, officials with the Council on Regional Economic Expansion and Educational Development (CREEED) awarded a total of $42,000 to the Clint Independent School District and the Fabens Independent School District, gifts that will expand each districts’ dual credit programs and improve their student educational attainment.
The Accelerated Certification of Teachers El Paso (ACT El Paso) scholarship fund, established by CREEED in 2015, helps high school teachers complete the prerequisites and gain the credentials needed to teach dual credit courses.
“CREEED is focused on increasing the number of students enrolled in dual credit courses, so we’re investing in districts across El Paso. The earlier we can prepare students for college, the more successful they will be in earning their degrees,” said Richard A. Castro, Chairman of CREEED.
“We also want to alleviate some of the financial burden that teachers face when they enroll in these certification programs, especially as their studies ultimately benefit El Paso’s students.”
Clint ISD was awarded $22,000 in scholarships for 11 teachers. This money will help grow the district’s current roster of dual credit credentialed teachers to 43.
Prior to receiving its first ACT El Paso grant in 2015, Clint had no dual credit credentialed teachers, and certification students who wanted to enroll in dual credit courses had to take classes online. Today, 199 Clint ISD students are taking dual credit courses at Clint, Horizon, and Mountain View High Schools.
“CREEED’s Dual Credit partnership has helped Clint ISD enormously, allowing us to offer our students a more comprehensive program that prepares them for their post-secondary education. Providing our students with college credit while still in high school helps them make the most of their time here,” said Clint ISD Superintendent Dr. Juan Martinez. “We appreciate CREEED’s investments in our community and its future.”
The $20,000 grant awarded to Fabens ISD will support 10 teachers, six of whom will use the money to complete graduate courses in order to become credentialed to teach dual credit courses.
The additional four scholarships were awarded to teachers who are completing alternative Texas teaching certification programs to further enhance their classroom skills and allow them to teach courses for both high school and college credit. These teachers include former and current instructors at El Paso Community College and UTEP.
Fabens ISD currently has 188 students enrolled in dual credit courses. “We’re working diligently to increase that number,” said Dr. Veronica Vijil, Fabens ISD Superintendent. “Our district works hard to ensure we give our teachers all the support and training they need to enhance their instructional skills. With help from CREEED, we’re closer to accomplishing that goal.”
Dual credit enrollment in El Paso is climbing. Since 2015, the number of students taking dual credit courses has increased from 4,725 to 7,811 students, a 65 percent increase.
“These are promising numbers for the future of our region,” said Castro. “The studies show that 65 percent of all new jobs by 2020 will require some training and education beyond high school. In order to ensure economic prosperity for the El Paso region, we have an obligation to prepare our students for success.”
Access to these advanced courses gives students a head start on their post-secondary education. The likelihood that a student will complete a postsecondary degree program within four years increases significantly if they complete 16 hours of dual credit courses before graduating high school.
Additionally, college credits earned through high school dual credit courses are at no cost to the student, lowering the overall cost of college tuition.
“We want all our students, regardless of their economic background, to be college and career-ready by the time they graduate high school, so they can successfully enroll in and complete a post-secondary degree program without remediation,” said CREEED Executive Director Eddie Rodriguez. “The more credentialed teachers we have across El Paso, the more dual credit courses we will be able to offer our students and get them ready for college.”