Accelerate ED Spotlight: Texas’ 13th Year Model

Tuesday, November 22, 2022
Lauren Norton
Associate Director

Are Texas students prepared for their futures in the workforce? Texas’ Accelerate ED design team is working hard to ensure that the answer to this question is a resounding “yes.” 

Texas students without any postsecondary degree or credential only have a 12 percent likelihood of earning a living wage, according to the Texas-based E3 Alliance. And given the fact that 62 percent of Texas jobs will require a postsecondary credential by 2030, clear pathways that bridge K-12 to higher education are increasingly essential for students in Texas and nationwide. 

The cost of postsecondary education and certifications is more expensive than ever. College costs are rising, and the average Texas college student borrows about $27,000 to pay for their postsecondary education. A postsecondary credential can yield a significant return on investment when it comes to students’ earning potential; but the increasing costs of postsecondary education, coupled with increasing costs of food, housing, and other basic necessities, is putting a strain on Texas students. In fact, 72 percent of Texans view U.S. student loan debt as a major problem. 

The financial burden of postsecondary education is keeping many of Texas’ brightest students from accessing these essential opportunities. Research shows that a major predictor of whether or not a student will attend a two- or four-year postsecondary program is whether they have enough money. 

Education or training beyond high school is essential for students if they hope to increase their economic stability and mobility. Through Accelerate ED, the Texas design team is working to ensure that Texas’ students, especially those from low-income communities and communities of color, are able to more easily access postsecondary opportunities. 

To help students overcome the barriers they face in getting to and through higher education, the team is working to scale Texas’ existing 13th year model to give more students the chance to graduate from high school with significant credits toward a postsecondary diploma. ​​Pathways in Technology Early College High Schools (P-TECH) are innovative open-enrollment high schools that provide the students who are least likely to attend college with an opportunity to receive both a high school diploma and a credential and/or an associate degree. Through the Accelerate ED initiative, leaders in Central Texas are working to update the current P-TECH model to enable students to complete an associate degree by their 13th year, and, ultimately, scale the 13th year model across the region and statewide. 

This model is not only working to address the significant financial barriers that Texas students face; by engaging directly with students, leaders on the design team are identifying the many challenges that can prevent students from accessing a postsecondary education—including awareness of their options, understanding of the application and enrollment processes, and more. The team is also working to intentionally align the accelerated pathways they are building with the demands of the local labor market, ensuring that students who participate will be moving toward real economic opportunity.  

Having access to postsecondary courses and experiences in high school not only prepares students for a college experience, but simultaneously allows them to earn real college credits, saving them time and money in the long run. Students who engage in one credit-bearing course in high school substantially increase their chances of completing a postsecondary degree. They are gaining confidence from having college experiences early on and are more likely to experience a smoother transition into higher education. Texas students who have participated in the P-TECH model are better able to hone their skills and interests, understand their passions, and identify their postsecondary field of study earlier on, saving them money, helping them to graduate on time, and empowering them to build stronger skills that are in-demand in the workforce.  

Check out the video above to learn more about how the Texas Accelerate ED design team is working to proactively address the barriers that students face to enable wider access to these high-impact opportunities.