TEA News Releases Online
May 13, 2010
PSJA receives $2 million grant to expand
college-readiness efforts to all students
AUSTIN – The Pharr-San Juan-Alamo Independent School District, which in recent years has made great strides in boosting its graduation and dropout recovery efforts, today was awarded a $2 million two-year grant by the Texas Education Agency to support a new model for a district-wide college readiness initiative called All Students: College Ready, College Connected.
The grant award was announced by Gov. Rick Perry and Commissioner of Education Robert Scott during a press conference at Kennedy Middle School in Pharr.
“As technology shrinks our world, it brings us into closer competition with people all over the globe who want the same jobs we do. If students are going to experience a successful, prosperous career, they need an education that will equip them to compete in the global marketplace,” Gov Perry said. “The Pharr-San Juan-Alamo school district is part of a larger effort across the state to continue improving the quality of a Texas education and ensure every student graduates ready for college or career.”
Scott said, “PSJA has made remarkable progress in recent years. The district has 1,500 high school students currently enrolled in college courses, which provides a tremendous opportunity for these students. The district also brought 517 dropouts back into school since 2007 and not only helped them earn a high school diploma but helped them enroll in South Texas College Courses as well. As a result of what we expect to happen here in PSJA, school districts in Texas and across the country will have a working model that shows how a district can partner with institutions of higher education and work with its community to create college and career opportunities for all students.”
The purpose of the grant is to take lessons learned from existing secondary school reform models and implement them district-wide. PSJA already has Texas Science, Technology Engineering and Math/Early College High School. The program earned the state’s top rating of Exemplary during its first year of operation.
Dropout recovery programs and high school redesign efforts have also been used in the district. With this grant, the district will be able to expand the use of the reform efforts.
The goal of the grant is to have all students in the district graduate from high school with the skills and knowledge they need to be successful in college and career. Additionally, district officials want each high school graduate to have earned 12 hours of college credit through programs such as the Early College High School, dual credit or Advanced Placement classes.
With the help of this grant, PSJA will:
• organize a new high school into career-focused small learning communities (SLCs),
• implement college-ready features and instructional strategies, based on the success of the district’s STEM/Early College High School, into existing middle and high schools,
• strengthen instructional college-going options for students who have dropped out,
• expand advanced coursework and dual credit options, and
• jointly establish counselors located on local college campuses to support district graduates’ transition to post-secondary technical and college programs.
By 2013-2014 with the help of the grant, district officials project that more than 60 percent of the 8,000 PSJA high school students will experience “All Students: College Ready, College Connected” and at least 30 percent of the 1,600 middle school students will be in accelerated programs.
Pharr-San Juan-Alamo, located in the Rio Grande Valley, is the 39th largest school district in Texas, enrolling more than 31,000 students. Eighty-eight percent of the district’s students are considered economically disadvantaged and 73 percent are considered at risk of dropping out of high school.