ECISD revamps, adds dual credit classes

Ector County Independent School District is revamping and adding to a couple of its dual credit offerings starting this fall.

The teaching program has been revamped in partnership with the University of Texas of the Permian Basin and a diesel technology program is being added in cooperation with Odessa College.

The teaching program will be aimed at helping to ease the teacher shortage faced by the school district, Executive Director of Career and Counseling Services Carla Byrne said.

Students will take teaching courses at the tech center at George H.W. Bush New Tech Odessa with an ECISD instructor. With that three-hour course, they will be able to move to UTPB and take courses on the campus, Byrne said.

“We’re really excited because we were given approval by UTPB to actually have our kids taking upper-level courses. They’re all transferrable, which is a little different than most of our dual credit programs. It requires our students to take and pass the TSI, which is a college entrance exam,” Byrne said.

“We’re really excited about it. Basically, our kids are going to get 21 hours toward their college degree in education. Our degree plan closely matches the elementary pathway. It’s awesome. I hope we have a strong cohort, as far as enrollment goes. I’m really excited to see where it goes,” Byrne added.

She added that ECISD has a “huge shortage” of teachers.

“We were talking with our HR department and Brian Moersch, our chief of staff, about how to grow our own. That’s really what CTE is all about anyway. We have bright capable kids that live here in our community and what we aim to do is to educate them to be able to have high-skill, high-demand, high-wage occupations here in Ector County,” Byrne said.

Many times, she said, young people come to Odessa for a year or two to beef up their resumes and go back to where they are from or to a larger city with more to do.

“But we know that when we have kiddoes that are from here, they’re more likely to stay here because their families are here. We were thinking about ways to revamp the existing program to provide more college credit, specifically in instruction whereas before most of it was in early childhood development. Kiddoes that take the early childhood development courses can still go into education, but those courses are not transferrable as the teaching ones are. They lead to an associate degree in early childhood development,” Byrne said.

This coming year will be the first for the revamped teaching program. Byrne said she wants to see how many students sign on and how well they do on the TSI before considering extensions or alterations to the program, such as a pathway for secondary teachers.

“A lot of these classes are overlapping, so they count toward the elementary pathway and the secondary pathway once they start taking the classes at UTPB,” Bryne said.

Career and Technical Education plays for tuition and textbooks, which Byrne said is good news for students who might otherwise be unable to attend college.

“And we’re excited about them being able to be at the college campus to be able to get that true college-going experience,” Byrne said.

She added that she has been assured by UTPB that there will be support for ECISD students.

“We’re really anticipating it to be a stellar program,” Byrne said.

The diesel tech program, which is new, will be offered through Odessa College.

Byrne said it will lead to 14 college hours in diesel tech. Students will start the program at Frost Technical Center with ECISD instructors as the dual credit instructors. Textbooks and tuition will be covered by CTE and they’ll transfer to OC.

“We received a lot of feedback from business and industry at our automotive advisory meetings both at Odessa College and the ones we have for ECISD. We know that there is a shortage of diesel technicians. We’ve been working with Odessa College to get this program for several years and now they are able to provide those services to us, so we’re really excited to be able to support that need in industry,” Byrne said.

Assistant Superintendent of Secondary Education Roy Garcia said the career and technology courses highlight the needs of the community.

“That’s why CTE is so big. We have a CTE program second to none and this just adds to that. Our community has specific needs and we have to start investing in these tech programs,” Garcia said. “It speaks to (the fact) that we need drivers. We need people that can work on those vehicles. All of that will generate work for kids.”

Garcia said some students will wind up being plumbers and mechanics.

“They’ll end making more than assistant superintendents do and that’s OK, but we’ve got to give them another avenue,” he said.