About the Toolkit


The strategies and lessons in this toolkit, described from the voice of the Hidalgo Independent School District, were compiled by Jobs for the Future through visits and interviews over a period of two years. JFF created this collection of materials to help practitioners in other school districts, as they begin planning how to introduce early college opportunities or expand them to many more students, see how they might adapt Hidalgo's approaches for their own communities.

Each section of the toolkit describes how Hidalgo approached a specific aspect of planning and implementing early college for all. Read the pages describing key strategies, then consult the resources at the right for example documents from Hidalgo, such as college partnership agreements, course syllabi, and informational packets about college for parents. And explore the special reports, which take a closer look at important aspects of Hidalgo's program.

about the contributors

Thad R. Nodine is a writer with over 15 years’ experience in education policy, research, and communications. He is president of Nodine Consulting and past vice president of the Institute for the Study of Knowledge Management in Education. Dr. Nodine's most recent publications about K-12 and postsecondary education reform include Innovations in College Readiness (Jobs for the Future) and One Shot Deal (WestEd). His novel Touch and Go will be released in September 2011.

Jill Frankfort develops and directs initiatives that promote JFF's work helping districts create, scale, and sustain a portfolio of secondary schools where all students can achieve college success. Her work includes documenting and disseminating promising strategies for planning and implementing early college high schools and dual enrollment pathways. She was recently chosen as a Fellow for the Kauffman Foundation's inaugural Education Ventures Program, which focuses on education innovation.

Cecilia Le develops JFF publications and products that capture the key approaches behind early college school designs that connect young people to postsecondary success. These designs include early colleges that blend high school and college coursework in an accelerated program for students underrepresented in higher education, as well as Back on Track models that put off-track and out-of-school youth on paths to college and career.


We are deeply grateful to the Hidalgo Independent School District for opening its doors to us as we documented its innovative work, and for sharing the many resources that provide insight into what it takes to prepare all students for postsecondary success. We would particularly like to thank past Superintendents Ed Blaha and Danny King, past Principal Marilu Navarro, and Assistant Principal Brenda De Hoyos for sharing their vision for Hidalgo as an early college district, and for their thoughtfulness and candor in describing the district's journey, the successes and the challenges, and their hopes for the future of the district's young people. While there are too many individuals to name, we are indebted to the Hidalgo administrators, teachers, counselors, staff, board members, parents, students, and alumni who contributed their experience, insight, and time.

We offer great appreciation to Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Ana Maria Rodriguez at University of Texas-Pan American for providing insight into the university's partnership with the district. The contributions of Associate Dean Nicolas Gonzalez at South Texas College and Director of Dual Enrollment Clarisa De La Fuente at Texas State Technical College were also critical to our understanding of Hidalgo's college partnerships. Program Officer Alma Garcia of the Texas High School Project was instrumental in helping us understand the development of Hidalgo's early college district design. We are grateful to Tina McIntyre at the Region One Education Service Center for her ongoing support and guidance.

Special thanks are due to our colleagues Jean-Pierre LeGuillou and Elizabeth Santiago, whose contributions to this project were immense. We are indebted to many at Jobs for the Future for their wise guidance: Lisa Archibald, Steven Baker, Clare Bertrand, Megan Fox, Adelina Garcia, Sue Goldberger, Rochelle Hickey, Jeff Landis, Marc S. Miller, Nichole Pike, Jayme Rubenstein, Janet Santos, LaVonne Sheffield, Callie Slocum, Kathleen Smith, Lisa Utzinger, Joel Vargas, Michael Webb, and Angela Wheeler. Finally, we are grateful to Digital Loom for its skillful website development, Pangaro Beer Design for its creativity, and Michael Stravato for his photography.

This project was supported by the Region One Education Service Center High School Redesign Project through a grant funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Jobs for the Future | 88 Broad Street, 8th Floor | Boston, MA 02110
Tel: (617) 728-4446 | Fax: (617) 728-4857 | [email protected]

Copyright © 2011 Jobs for the Future. All rights reserved.
Design by Digital Loom