AEC is a 2019 National Blue Ribbon Winner

AEC is a 2019 National Blue Ribbon Winner
Posted on 09/26/2019

For 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, 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 schoolyears, AECHS has
been the No. 2 school in Summit County, and was the No. 1 school during the 2017-18 schoolyear,
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, 2010-2013
 Ohio High Performing School of Honor, 2013-2017
 Ohio All A Award, 2015
 Ohio Overall A Award, 2018-2019

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, 2018-2019
 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 that 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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