The paperwork has been inked in Austin.

It is official.

Waxahachie Global High School will become the state’s newest Early College High School with the goal of having its students graduate with both a high school diploma and associate’s degree.

“It’s pretty exciting. Can you hear the cheers?” said Portia Butler, headmaster of Global High during a phone interview late Friday afternoon.

“We just received the phone call announcing the TEA (Texas Education Admini-stration) had signed off on the final paperwork. It was the news that we all expected, but it’s still exciting to know that it’s a done deal,” Butler said. “There’s been a lot of hard work leading up to this day and I’m just so very proud. This is truly great news for our students and the opportunities they will have at Global.”

As an Early College High School, this fall Global students may begin taking courses that count for both high school and college credit as early as their freshman year, with a goal of earning their associate’s degree by the time they graduate high school.

As a public school, there is no additional tuition charge for the courses that count for college credit.

The initiated is made possible through a partnership between the Waxahachie Independent School District and Navarro College.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for our students in Ellis County and a great partnership between WISD and Navarro College,” said Dr. Harold Nolte, president of Navarro College-Ellis County. “This is the future. This is the next step in how we deliver education and create a college-going society.

“We’ve been working on this for more than three years now and it’s exciting that it will become a reality when the students return to class this fall,” he added.

“Early College High Schools are helping open the doors for a lot of students to achieve their higher education goals and I’m extremely proud that we have formed a cooperative agreement between WISD and Navarro College to provide this wonderful opportunity for our students in Ellis County,” Nolte said.

Global High

Global High was established in the fall of 2007 as a STEM academy — a limited enrollment campus with a curriculum heavily focused on science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

“Global will continue its STEM focus,” said Butler. “Once we become an Early College High School in the fall, our STEM designation will not change. Right now we are in the process of putting together our schedule of classes for the fall. Some of them will be dual credit courses that will count for both high school and college credit. Some of them will be for high school credit only. However, our core focus will continue to place an emphasis on science, technology, engineering and math in a college-like environment that not only prepares our students to succeed in college, but giving them a head start on their education goals.

“We still require all students take engineering and technology courses. However, we now have the opportunity to offer courses in those areas that will count for college credit — which will be especially helpful for students wanting to pursue degrees in those fields.”

Enrollment will continue to be limited to 100 students in each grade.

Eligibility for

college courses

As an Early College High School, Global students must take a placement test to determine eligibility for dual credit courses.

The placement test covers three areas: reading, writing and math.

Once passing the placement test, students are then qualified to take dual credit courses.

“Being an Early College High School, there is no limit on the number of dual credit courses students may take each semester (providing they have passed the placement test),” Butler said, adding that it is expected the incoming juniors will be taking the bulk of the dual credit courses offered this fall.

As a college-preparatory campus, she added part of the school’s mission is to work with every student to prepare them for college level courses.

“We know that not every student is going to pass all or part of the (dual credit) placement test right off the bat, especially our incoming freshmen,” she said. “We expect a lot from our students, as we have since Global High opened its doors in the fall of 2007. Students have to work hard for success. Dual credit courses are college-level courses with the same requirements and expectations of college.

“Our job is to help our students achieve in that environment,” she said.

“What we have seen during Global’s first two years is that our students want to be challenged and are capable of meeting high expectations,” she said, adding that in addition to the engineering, science and math classes, many of the school’s courses are already incorporating college-level instruction, only without the college credit.

“I can’t say enough about the staff at Global High,” Butler said. “They are just phenomenal, absolutely phenomenal. In addition to being truly outstanding educators, we are a family all working together to not only challenge our students to achieve academic success, but also provide them with a nurturing environment to succeed in life.”

As an Early College High School with STEM designation, all Global High School students must still fulfill the state-mandated requirements for high school graduation and complete TAKS.

The school has received preliminary results from this year’s TAKS test and Butler said it appears the Global campus will receive the state’s “recommended campus” honors for the second year in a row.

“It won’t be official until the fall when the state completes its analysis, but we’re all very excited about the preliminary results,” she said.

During the past month Global’s current students (consisting of freshman and sophomores) took the college placement test — a test normally taken by high school seniors and graduates.

“When you factor in these are freshman and sophomore high school students taking a college entrance exam and that none of our students have taken pre-calculus — which is what the math portion of the test is based on — the results are very exciting,” Butler said, adding the incoming junior class will begin taking calculus courses in the fall.

“The students did extremely well on the reading and writing portion of the exam, which is right on track with what our staff has been working towards — preparing our kids for success in college. The results are a huge compliment to our staff,” she said.

The incoming freshmen, who will begin their studies at Global in the fall, are scheduled to take the placement test in June.

The students that have passed the placement test in reading, writing (as well as a portion of the math) may begin taking dual credit courses in those subjects as early as this summer.

“One of the things we stress is making sure our students are prepared. We don’t want to throw them into a situation they are not ready for. Just because we’re an Early College High School doesn’t mean that all of our classes are dual credit,” Butler said. “It’s not the same academic plan for every child. We’re a small learning campus that allows us to provide a specific plan for each student.

“This fall, some students will be taking multiple dual credit courses while others may be taking all regular high school courses,” she said. “The goal is to ensure each student is prepared for the next level and ultimately success at the college level.

“I’m extremely proud of our students and staff,” Butler said. “As an administrator, to be able to work with this ‘dream team’ of educators is absolutely amazing. Not only are they dedicated to their profession and to our students, but they are also certified to teach courses at the college level — meaning we’re going to be able to provide dual credit instruction on our campus with existing staff.”

As part of the curriculum, Butler said the staff will also be working with students to put them in a position to retake and pass the placement test in areas they were deficient.

Early start on

college

As an Early College High School, Butler said Global High has also added three additional goals for its students:

• Graduate high school with an associate’s degree in science or an associate’s degree in arts (63 college credit hours) that are transferable to four-year bachelor degree programs at nearly all Texas universities and colleges.

• Graduate high school with at least 45 college credit hours covering core courses required for four-year bachelor degree programs.

• Graduate high school with as many dual credit college hours as possible.

“As an Early College High School, there is no tuition for these dual credit courses,” Butler said. “As a Global High student, the only requirement for taking dual credit courses is passing the placement test. Let me say this again because it’s very important, Global High students will not have to pay tuition to take dual credit classes.”

The tuition waiver is part of the initiative agreement between the state, WISD and Navarro College, which each have funding responsibilities for the program.

Enrollment for the 2009-2010 school year is open to all incoming freshmen and sophomore students, regardless of what school they currently attend, be it public, private or homeschool.

Class size is limited to 100 students per grade. One-hundred freshman students will be selected and a limited number of sophomore students will be selected for the coming school year.

Applications may be downloaded from the school’s Web site at www.globalhigh.org or by contacting the school at 972-923-4761.

Applications may also be picked up at the school during business hours. Global High is located at 600 W. Second St., Waxahachie.

Global High

For more information on Waxahachie Global High School, to receive an application for enrollment or to schedule a tour, contact the school office at 972-923-4761.

E-mail Neal at neal.white@wninews.com