AEC is a 2019 National Blue Ribbon Winner

AEC is a 2019 National Blue Ribbon Winner
Posted on 09/27/2019
Image of Akron Early College High SchoolFor the second time in 12 years, Akron Early College High School (AECHS) has been recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as a National Blue Ribbon School for its “overall academic excellence.”

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsey DeVos announced on Thursday the list of 362 public and private schools receiving the award. AECHS was one of 14 schools in Ohio to be recognized. Nation Blue Ribbon schools earn recognition “based on their overall academic excellence or their progress in closing achievement gaps among student subgroups. These schools demonstrate that all students can achieve to high levels.”

In addition to the national award, AECHS, which operates on The University of Akron (UA) campus, AECHS was the only school in the Akron Public Schools District to receive an A grade on the Ohio Department of Education’s recent state report card.

On the report card, issued Sept. 12, AECHS received As for Progress, Gap Closing and Graduation Rate and received two Bs for Achievement and Prepared for Success. For the last two school years, AECHS has been the No. 2 school in Summit County and was the No. 1 school during the 2017 18 school year, according to Tom O’Neil, assistant principal of AECHS.

There’s a lot of success behind the high school with so few that teach so many. AECHS operates with about 10 teachers who oversee 400 students.

The program is geared toward students in low-income families who have not traditionally sought higher education. Students come from the Akron Public Schools District and surrounding communities. The partnership, started in 2007, allows promising APS students to advance to an academically rigorous program upon their completion of middle school. AECHS also enables students to earn an associate degree awarded by UA’s College of Applied Science and Technology or up to two years of college credits toward a bachelor’s degree, free of charge.

AECHS’ recognition from the Ohio Department of Education includes:
  • Ohio School of Promise, 2010-13
  • Ohio High Performing School of Honor, 2013-17
  • Ohio All A Award, 2015
  • Ohio Overall A Award, 2018-19
The high school has received recognition at the national level:
  • National Blue Ribbon Award, U.S. Department of Education, 2013, 2019
  • America’s Top High School Award, Newsweek magazine, 2016
  • College Success Award, GreatSchools.org, 2018-19
  • Best High School Award-National, U.S. News; World Report, 2019
“It’s an honor to work with The University of Akron; we’re grateful every year to be here,” said O’Neil. “This unique partnership opens doors for our students that they normally wouldn’t get in any other program because they’re so immersed in the UA campus and culture, which helps them mature faster than traditional high school students. We welcome this partnership and we embrace it.”

Currently, the Akron Early College is serving 407 students from Akron Public Schools and the surrounding communities. Of those students:
  • 68% are economically disadvantaged;
  • 68% are traditionally underrepresented;
  • 41% are first-generation college students; and
  • 90% of seniors are on target for an associate degree awarded through UA’s College of Applied Science and Technology.
“We have known for many years how powerful and successful the Akron Early College High School program is, and the ‘A’ achieved on the state report card is one more reflection of the hard work and dedication of all the stakeholders involved,” said Elizabeth Kennedy, Ph.D., dean of UA’s College of Applied Science and Technology. “Being recognized in 2013 and now again in 2019 by the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program is confirmation of everyone’s intense commitment to academic excellence and achievement. We are very proud of all of the students, faculty and staff at the AECHS and UA who work to maintain such high levels of success.”

“The partnership between UA and AECHS continues to grow each year,” said Annie Hanson Hilaire, director of community relations and engagement at UA. “With the transformation of all Akron Public Schools high schools to College and Career Academies, UA is the sister university to AECHS. This provides additional supports to faculty, students and families. For example, AECHS students participate in on-campus industry field trips to learn about career opportunities linked to high demand academic programs. And, parents participate in UA-led financial aid workshops, and teachers gain valuable professional development from UA colleagues across campus.”
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