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2014-08-14

BHS readies for college prep class

By Carolyn B. Edwards BCC Staff Writer

In response to another mandate from House Bill 5, Bandera High School is getting ready to offer its seniors a college preparatory class. HB 5, a product of the 2013 Texas State Legislature, made numerous changes in the operation of Texas public schools' standards.
The college prep class will be offered to seniors who may lack college ready skills in math and the English language arts, but are planning to go to college, BHS Principal Gary Bitzkie explained to the BISD Board of Trustees at their regular meeting held Monday, Aug. 11.
Successfully completing the class will allow a student to skip remedial classes required in their freshman year of college, saving both time and money, Bitzkie said.
The class is not a college credit course, however.
In order to offer the class, BHS had to partner with an institute of higher education, in this case the Alamo Colleges District, which includes San Antonio College and St. Phillip's College, among others in San Antonio.
BISD entered into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the ACD. The MOU outlined the student selection criteria, teacher criteria, teacher training requirements and required meetings with students and parents, Bitzkie said.
In other information given to the board, Bitzkie and Renee Cadena updated the board on the district's advanced placement (AP) courses.
The advanced placement courses include the gifted and talented program at the elementary school level, pre-advanced placement, advanced placement and dual credit courses (earning credits toward high school graduation, as well as college credits).
Teachers for the program complete an initial 30 hours of gifted and talented training with six hours of updates annually. Teachers of AP courses attend AP Institutes in the summer.
Teachers for dual credit courses must have a master's degree in their content area or a master's and 18 graduate hours for content, or have certification for business courses. They must also be hired as adjunct faculty for the Alamo Colleges District.
The AP program aims to develop students who are independent learners who will go on to success in college.
The program develops the work ethic for the students, Bitzkie said. "Sixty-three percent of high school students in the US go on to college, but only 30 percent graduate," he said. "I think that's a reflection of hard work. Students that know how to work will succeed."
All of BHS's AP courses are open enrollment. The AP and dual credit course credits are weighted when used to determine the student's grade point average.