Increasing the number of students who attain post-high school degrees is crucial to the success of our region.
 No one institution can do this alone.  Getting there requires the collective impact of our region’s educators and leaders to address dozens of factors: from increasing students’ awareness of their college options, to clearing financial hurdles, to ensuring that students arrive ready to learn and graduate. 
 A collaboration among Houston A+ Challenge, the University of Texas at Austin, the Institute for Evidence Based Change, and the Houston Endowment, Gulf Coast Partners Achieving Student Success (GC PASS) is leading the region to postsecondary success.


Out of every 100 Texas eighth graders, only 22 earn any kind of higher education degree or certificate within six years of graduating high school. Out of 100 African American and Latino students, only 11 earn a degree.

— A New Measure of 2012 study funded by Houston Endowment Inc.

Opening the Gates to Post-Secondary Success

Through the three-year Gulf Coast PASS initiative, community college and K-12 district teams collaborate on projects aimed at improving college readiness and success. Though each college and district’s projects are unique, all are founded on proven best practices and are informed by student data. Three main strategies define their work:

Increase College Readiness Among High School Graduates
Every year, more than 200,000 students arrive at Texas colleges and universities unprepared for the academic coursework that awaits them. Gulf Coast PASS works with high schools to ensure that curriculum – not just in AP and Honors classes, but for all students – prepares students to pursue postsecondary study. GC PASS also helps high schools provide academic support and other resources to students who might not otherwise think postsecondary education is an option for them.
Ease Student Transitions Between High School & Community College
The high school to college transition can be tricky – especially for those who are the first in their families to make it. From selecting a school and course of study that is a good fit, to finding financial resources, to navigating the red tape of graduation requirements, applications and admissions forms, to mastering the routines and habits of necessary to succeed in college (and, often, balance work and family demands) – this tricky time has been the downfall of too many who aspire to postsecondary degrees and the careers that require them.
Increase Student Success in Community College Developmental Courses
Community colleges hold tremendous promise as accessible, cost-effective and flexible institutions of higher education. Yet underprepared students are more likely to attend community colleges, where about 45 percent of students have not met college-ready standards in math, 31 percent are underprepared in reading, and 19 percent are underprepared in math. These students often are placed in developmental courses to help them “catch up” – yet they seldom achieve academic success. In fact, only 20 percent of students placed in developmental courses will ever earn a postsecondary certificate or degree.


The regional, three-year project is directed, coordinated and evaluated by The University of Texas at Austin’s Student Success Initiatives, and involves eight community college systems and 11 public K-12 school districts in the Houston region.


  • Brazosport College
  • College of the Mainland
  • Galveston College
  • Houston Community College System
  • Lee College
  • Lone Star College System
  • San Jacinto College District
  • Wharton County Junior College

Public K-12 School District(s)

  • Brazosport ISD
  • Hitchcock ISD
  • Galveston ISD
  • Houston ISD and Spring Branch ISD
  • Goose Creek CISD
  • Cypress-Fairbanks ISD and Spring ISD
  • Pasadena ISD and Sheldon ISD
  • Wharton ISD


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More Students College Bound in Hitchcock

“Of the 54 graduates at Hitchcock High School, 91 percent have a college waiting for them.  Two years ago only 25 percent enrolled in college. ”  Read why superintendent Barbara Derrick attributes this success to Gulf Coast PASS.  Read more 

The Progress of the Gulf Coast PASS Initiative

June Giddings, GC PASS Coordinator, talks with the Texas College and Career Readiness Network about three years of progress bridging the divide between high schools and colleges and GC PASS’s plans for the future.  Read more 

A College Completion Idea That’s So Simple.  Why Aren’t We Doing It?

Brad Phillips, President of GC PASS partner organization Institute for Evidence Based Change, writes in Huffington Post about the great divide between high school and college governing bodies, the curriculum gaps that result, and the alignment guides developed through GC PASS to address the problem.  Read more 

Home Libraries for Hitchcock Head Start kids, thanks to Home Depot, College of the Mainland

Hitchcock ISD and College of the Mainland connected through the Gulf Coast PASS initiative, beginning a fruitful partnership that now extends all the way to preschool.  Read how College of the Mainland is promoting literacy by ensuring that Hitchcock Head Start students have not only books, but shelves to keep them.  Read more 


The regional, three-year GC PASS initiative is made possible through a generous grant by Houston Endowment to The University of Texas at Austin’s Student Success Initiatives, which provides direction, coordination and evaluation for the project.

Houston A+ Challenge leads the college awareness focus for the project, by helping ISDs inventory and evaluate their current college-focused activities, share best practices, and develop and implement plans to enhance their district-wide college-bound culture. Houston A+ Challenge also convenes three annual GC PASS Institutes to ensure that the project is continually informed by the latest national, state and local research and promising practices.

The Institute for Evidence-Based Change leads the data focus for the project, by collecting and analyzing data for all partners, developing web-based tools for easy data access, training users on data-informed decision-making, designing and integrating achievement metrics, and partnering in the development and support of vertical alignment teams.

For more information on Gulf Coast Partners Achieving Student Success, please contact:

Houston A+ Challenge