in , . It is a specialized school (part of the by the ) which offers students the ability to earn up to 2 years of college credit at no cost at the (UTRGV), focusing in 4 main areas: , , , and college academic core curriculum requirements. Each class is capped at 100 students each (for a max total student population of 400), which encourages a small learning community to support educational success. ECHS is an open-enrollment campus available to all who live in the , with a special focus in recruiting at-risk students and historically underrepresented minorities. The application process for rising freshman places special consideration on the student's personal goals, college preparedness, academic success, and demographic background. In 2018, 92% of students were Hispanic, 57% were female, and 61% were economically disadvantaged.(ECHS) is a
In February 2019, UTRGV, the city of Harlingen, and (HCISD) signed a memorandum announcing the building of a new Early College High School campus. In partnership with the city of Harlingen and University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, the new Early College High School campus will be built on property located near Sunshine Strip and Medical Drive.
This area serves as the medical hub of our community and provides nearby access to the UTRGV Academic and Clinical Research Building. The new 35,000=40,000 sq ft building is scheduled to open Fall 2021.
Harlingen Consolidated Independent School District (HCISD) established Early College High School in Fall 2007, creating the 3rd public high school (and the 1st specialized high school) in the city. It initially had a partnership with (TSTC), which offered high school students the opportunity to complete an Associate's Degree or Certificate program at no cost. The ECHS students who successfully graduated from TSTC usually received an in , a Certificate of Completion in the Academic Core Curriculum, or a Certificate of Completion in the Certified Nurse Assistant Program. The original ECHS campus is located on Pecan Street, across from the TSTC Harlingen campus and next to the TSTC on-campus dorms. Students would take high school classes at the ECHS campus and would walk across the street to take college classes at TSTC Harlingen.
The Owl mascot was adopted in 2007. It follows the HCISD tradition of high school bird mascots, where the Owl was chosen specifically to symbolize ECHS's academic focus and mission. The mascot's illustration is an altered and recolored (retired) 1997 primary logo from . The primary color Black was chosen to represent the traditional color of , and the secondary color Khaki was inspired by the faculty's tendency to wear khaki colored slacks when representing ECHS at official HCISD functions. While Khaki is one of the official colors, Yellow and Gold is often substituted in its place for ECHS event decorations, printed banners and brochures, letterman jackets, and diplomas.
The first time ECHS had a full school of 4 classes (freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors) began in the academic school year of 2010-11, as the school did not accept student transfers planning to graduate in 2008, 2009, or 2010. The original four classes of ECHS students are the Classes of 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014. The first class to graduate from Harlingen Early College High School was the Class of 2011, and were therefore officially named the "Legacy Class" by the school district.
The first Pep Rally took place during the 2011-12 academic school year. Its focus was to get students excited for an upcoming robotics competition that the Harlingen ECHS Robotics club was participating in. The competition took place at TSTC Harlingen, where the ECHS Robotics team received 2nd place. The first Owl mascot costume was purchased later in 2014.
On April 2019, the ECHS Robotics team became the first high school in HCISD to advance to the FIRST Robotics World Championship competition hosted at Houston, Texas. Harlingen ECHS students were given the chance to compete with high school engineering and robotics teams from around the world after winning the Alamo West Regional Championship.
In 2018, the school was rated "" by the (TEA), which is the highest rank obtainable on the scale. Harlingen Early College High School received 5 Distinction Designations: ELA/Reading, Mathematics, Science, Comparative Closing the Gaps, and Postsecondary Readiness. Student performance on the Texas state public school standardized tests, , are also far above average. 97% of ECHS students pass all subjects, compared to the 77% average for the school district and state.
In 2015, ranking placed ECHS at #84 on the prestigious “Beating the Odds” list. Newsweek only selects up to 500 US high schools based on their outstanding efforts in preparing their students for college while also overcoming the obstacles posed by students at an economic disadvantage. Harlingen ECHS received high marks for all three categories: college readiness (87.3%), graduation rate (100%), and college bound (96.7%).
GreatSchools.org rates ECHS a 9 out of 10, and gave the school the based on its success in preparing students for college.