Alamo Colleges Net Star Award For the Alamo Area Academies
The Alamo Area Academies at the Alamo Colleges have been honored with a 2012 Texas Higher Education Star Award from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB). The award was announced at a luncheon in Austin today. The Star Award recognizes exceptional contributions toward meeting one or more of the goals of Closing the Gaps by 2015, the Texas higher education plan adopted by the THECB in October 2000. The plan establishes four goals – to close the gaps in student participation, student success, academic excellence, and research. As a Star award winner, the Academies program demonstrates: successful outcomes in the areas of student participation, student success, academic excellence or research; improvement and excellence over time through the use of benchmarks and other comparison data that allow progress to be monitored and evaluated; and an efficient cost/benefit ratio per student.
The Alamo Area Academies is a dual credit program where high school juniors and seniors attend classes taught by faculty from San Antonio College and St. Philip’s College for half a day five days a week. They also complete a paid internship, earn a year of college credit while still in high school and earn industry-recognized certification along with their high school diploma. The four academy programs are aerospace, advanced manufacturing, information technology and nursing. The Academies partner with more than 100 leading regional employers such as Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Toyota and Rackspace, as well as the City of San Antonio and 25 independent school districts in the region
Annually the academies provide access to almost 300 mostly minority students to train for science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers. A total of 60% of these students graduate with a degree or certificate within two years. Also, 58% continue in higher education and 42% graduate and enter well-paid STEM careers.
“The Academies are one of the most effective initiatives in the region for producing the skilled workforce pipeline that high-tech industries need and improving students’ success in the labor market,” said Alamo Colleges’ Chancellor Dr. Bruce Leslie. “This contributes directly to the Closing the Gap goals of increasing minority participation, as well as increasing graduation and completion rates in higher education. It also directly achieves the Closing the Gaps goal of ensuring an educated population and workforce for the future.” he added.
In the area of student participation, the Academies have an exceptional record of success, especially for Hispanic and Black students. A total of 86% of students enrolled are economically disadvantaged and 71% are minority students. Since the start of the program, the participation rate has increased 69%. The program is also exceeding the Closing the Gaps student success targets in all identified categories,especially for minority populations.
In the area of student success, for the past ten years, more than 60% of first-time-in-college students entering the Academies in their junior year have continued the program into their senior year, attained 31-34 hours of advanced college credit and graduated with an industry-recognized certificate or marketable skills award. Academy students’ completion rates are almost 20 times higher than the THECB certificate completion rates. In any comparison, student participation and success outcomes far exceed state norms by significant margins.
In terms of cost/benefit ratio per student, the Academies reflect a “shared cost” model that translates to a $1,070,793 return on investment since the inception of the program. In addition, the Academies support the region’s economic development efforts by helping to recruit qualified workers, generating a $6.1 million cost benefit for the community and industry partners.
Since the program began in 2001, the Academies have placed 96% of graduates immediately into higher education in a STEM field or a career. Academy graduates immediately entering the workforce over the past two years had a starting salary and benefits totaling $34,700, a 45% increase over the area median income for high school graduates.
At the Alamo Colleges, high quality education and low costs provide exceptional value to students and alumni who are major contributors to the economy and culture of our community. For more information, visit our website at alamo.edu