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Benchmark 6: School Design

Purpose of School Design

The Early College High School must provide a full-day program (i.e., full day as defined in PEIMS) at an autonomous high school (i.e., a high school with ECHS leader assigned to ECHS responsibilities who has scheduling, hiring, and budget authority), an IHE liaison with decision-making authority, and a highly qualified staff with support and training.

Design Elements

All ECHSs must implement and meet the following:

  1. The ECHS location shall be:
    1. On a college or university campus, or
    2. In a high school—as a standalone high school campus or in a smaller learning community within a larger high school. 
  2. ECHS staff shall include:
    1. An ECHS leader who has autonomy for course and instructor scheduling, staff and faculty hiring, and budget development
    2. An IHE liaison with decision-making authority who interacts directly and frequently (in-person or virtually) with the ECHS leader and the dual credit provider
    3. Highly qualified ECHS teachers who work directly with the ECHS students, which may include high school faculty who must meet faculty requirements that are set by the regional accrediting association of the community college and/or university to teach college-level courses, instructors for virtual college courses, and instructors for Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate courses.
    4. Counseling/advising staff who may be provided by, or shared with, the IHE partner who support the ECHS students, through activities, such as: coordinating with the IHE for registration, monitoring of students’ high school and college transcripts, monitoring of high school and college courses to ensure programmatic requirements for both the high school and the partnering institution are met, and planning for future credentials and career entry.
  3. The ECHS students shall be cohorted for core classes to the extent possible; this does not exclude non-ECHS students from enrolling in the same class.
  4. The ECHS shall implement an annual professional development plan (i.e, calendar of events/activities) for teachers and staff, focused on research-based instructional strategies for increasing rigor and college- and career-readiness, is based on needs assessment of student data, and include both high school and dual credit teachers. Professional development should include, but is not limited to:
    1. A mentoring and induction program for newly hired staff, providing them with the instructional and interpersonal skills and capacities needed for success in an ECHS.
    2. Opportunities for ECHS teachers and higher-education faculty to receive extensive training and support through regularly scheduled formative peer observations and collaboration opportunities with IHE faculty.
    3. Opportunities for joint training among ECHS and higher-education college advisors and faculty (e.g., course requirements and addressing the social and emotional needs of students).
  5. ECHS campuses not located on a college or university campus shall provide students with frequent use of IHE academic and support facilities, such as libraries, labs, advising center, career center, cultural facilities, and sports facilities.


  • All products shall be published on the ECHS’s website and made available to the Texas Education Agency (TEA) upon request.
  • All products shall be maintained in accordance with the local records retention policy.


  • Mentor/induction program plans
  • Annual training or professional development plan with ECHS and IHE faculty
  • ECHS leader/liaison meeting agendas and informational handouts


School Design, panel discussion

Video discussion on meeting benchmark 6 from two ECHS veterans, Dr. Janice Lombardi, principal, Trini Garza Early College High School, Dallas ISD, and Dr. Tracie S. Rodriguez, principal Collegiate High School and Branch Academy, Corpus Christi ISD.
View School Design, panel discussion
Tags: ECHS, Trini Garza

Investing in Your Local ECHS Partnership through Community and Business Relationships

Presentation on best practices for fundraising provided by Tarrant County College.

2020 Summit: School Design and Sustainability

A session from the 2020 CCRSM Leadership Summit. Seguin ECHS shares how it re-examined its school design and changed it to become more sustainable.

Different by Design: A Stand Alone Campus Designed to Operate with Tight Connections to the IHE and

Presentation describing the best practices of standalone campuses.

50 MB

Dual Credit/Early College High School Basic and Board Legislative Updates

Dual Credit Early College High School Basic and Board Legislative Updates

Purposeful and Adaptable School Design

Designing with Purpose & for Adaptability handout

581 KB

Tags: Design, ECHS, Planning

Retain Teachers, Promote Student Success

Presentation on the best practices to retain teachers and promote student success from Transmountain ECHS.

374 KB

Standing Strong as a Stand Alone

Presentation overview of PSJA Thomas Jefferson T-STEM Early College High School Pharr-San Juan-Alamo ISD.

753 KB

Tags: Campus, ECHS

TEA Early College High School: Countdown to Opening

A checklist of the questions that need to be asked and answered at every phase of the process of creating an ECHS, starting from before the grant is written, up through the school's opening.

461 KB

Texas Teacher Externships

Presentation overview of teacher externships in Texas.