College to welcome AISD high schools into its Diplomas & Degrees Program

by Joe Wyatt
Published March 13, 2018

Amarillo College and the Amarillo Independent School District (AISD) are poised to formalize an agreement that will offer qualified AISD students the opportunity to pursue full general-studies associate degrees beginning in the ninth grade.

Dual Credit   Diplomas   DegreesAC President Russell Lowery-Hart and AISD Superintendent Dana West will sign a Memorandum of Understanding at 3:30 p.m. Monday, March 19 in the Board Room of the Rod Schroder Education Support Center, 7200 I-40 West.

Their signatures will ratify AISD’s partnership in AC’s Diplomas and Degrees program.

The program is a highly challenging, four-year commitment for those whose eighth-grade Texas Success Initiative (TSI) scores demonstrate college readiness. Applicants must be approved by the College and their high school.

Amarillo College launched Diplomas and Degrees in 2009 to enable top-performing students in AC’s Dual Credit network to begin working toward associate degrees as high school freshmen.

Successful graduates sometimes begin their university careers as full juniors.

However, schools or school districts in the Dual Credit network must formally opt in as partners of the AC initiative before their students may take part in it.

AISD will become by far the largest partner in the Diplomas and Degrees program. AC has previously signed MOUs with Ascension Academy, Amarillo Collegiate Academy, Bushland, and Highland Park schools. AC anticipates signing a similar memorandum with Canyon ISD sometime this spring.

“We are thrilled to be able to provide this opportunity to AISD, which has the largest population of students in the Panhandle,” said Jason Norman, AC’s director of P-16 career pathways advisement and co-director of dual credit.

“Students who qualify for and succeed in Diplomas and Degrees graduate from college faster and do so at considerable savings. The cost of dual credit courses is as affordable as it gets – $50 a credit hour – and since they are still in high school, families are often saving on two years of room and board, too.

“But the time saved is probably paramount,” he said. “You really cannot accurately place a value on a young person’s time.”

Approximately 40 of the 60 credit hours needed to graduate from AC are offered through the Dual Credit program. Mainstream college courses, primarily electives, comprise the remaining hours needed for high school students to obtain a degree, and those are completed predominantly during summers at AC.

For more information about AC’s Dual Credit program, including Diplomas and Degrees, please contact Jason Norman, co-director, at (806) 371-5214.