iSchool High, a public charter school system offering college-like learning opportunities, opened a campus at Lone Star College–University Park in November 2011 and has since doubled its enrollment.
“[iSchool High] offers the basic classes that satisfy the 26 credits required for Texas public schools,” said Stacy Bare, college liaison and academic coordinator for iSchool High. “The difference is, instead of waiting until their junior or senior years, we are able to offer college credit classes to students at an earlier age, which includes incoming freshmen.”
Most first-level college classes in English, history and math, along with any other courses required for earning a bachelor of arts degree, are offered at iSchool, Bare said.
As a public charter school, iSchool High offers free tuition and allows students to earn their high school diploma as well as up to two years of college credit in just four years. Eligible students include anyone in the greater Houston area. The campus began its first full school year Aug. 27 with an enrollment of about 200 students.
As with most public charter schools, enrollment is open to all interested students and is non-sectarian. Charters are held accountable to state and federal academic standards and are commonly funded by local, state and federal tax dollars while a majority of public school districts have powers similar to local governments concerning taxation and funding.
“Like every public school, our tuition is waived,” Bare said. “We pick up the student’s books and other fees through grants. We get all the same funding as any public school, but the difference is we don’t collect local tax dollars from the area.”
The curriculum at iSchool is similar to home schooling material, but the campus has a private school feel, as its focus remains on what students need to know to prepare for college and the real world, Bare said.
“Students need to know this is an independent study program,”she said. “Students who feel they fall behind in high school because of a lack of individual attention can get the attention they need here. On the other hand, those who feel they are held back because of high school [curriculum], we offer accelerated learning as well. We always tell students, ‘If you’re running from something, this is not the place to run to. If you are running toward something, you can find it here.’”
Classrooms at iSchool combine high school and college education into a single experience, said Michael Laird, campus director. Curriculum focuses on college-like academics and relationships between students and educators, facilitating the transition to college life.
Each of the classrooms at iSchool High are equipped with 12 computers, and students are issued ID cards through LSCS and have access to the University Park campus resources, Bare said.
The other two campuses—the Media Arts Academy and the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, or STEM, Academy—are in Lewisville, Texas.
iSchool High is accredited by the Texas Education Agency and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. To enroll, students should contact one of the three campuses depending on his or her interests and goals, as each campus offers distinctive services.
Interested students are encouraged to meet with local school directors before registration begins.
- Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Academy (iSchool STEM) in Lewisville, Texas
- Media Arts Academy in Lewisville, Texas
- University Park at 20515 FM 249
- Accredited by the Texas Education Agency and Southern Association of Colleges and Schools
Other services include:
- Academic diagnostic testing
- TAKS testing preparation
- Guest speakers, career guidance and counseling
- Dual credit courses
- Individualized learning
- Special group instruction
- Computer-enhanced curriculum
- Low student to teacher ratio
- Project-based learning