GECA principal Sonia Flores interacts with her students May 13.
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Dr. TJ Owens Gilroy Early College Academy is among the top high schools in the nation, according to U.S. News & World Report.

Gilroy Unified School District’s GECA, which opened in 2007, was ranked 42nd in the nation and third in the state in the magazine’s 2019 rankings, with an overall score of 99.76 out of 100. The report ranked 17,245 schools across the US.

The school rankings are based on college readiness; reading and math proficiency; reading and math performance; underserved student performance; college curriculum breadth; and graduation rates. College readiness measures participation and performance on advanced placement and international baccalaureate exams.

Additionally, school enrollment, student diversity, participation in free and reduced-price meal programs, graduation rates and the results of state assessment tests are considered in the rankings.

“Students have the opportunity to take Advanced Placement coursework and exams. The AP participation rate at Dr. T.J. Owens Gilroy Early College Academy is 100 percent,” according to U.S. News & World Report.

GECA has 273 students, with nine full-time teachers. The total minority enrollment is 78 percent, and 35 percent of students are economically disadvantaged.

Earlier this school year, GECA was one of only 10 schools within Santa Clara County that garnered the state’s top honor as a 2019 California Distinguished School. The school is an educational partnership between Gilroy Unified School District and Gavilan College, and was originally funded through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

In the same U.S. News & World Report rankings, Christopher High School was 3,246 nationally and 476th in the state; and Gilroy High School was 5,823 nationally and 799th in the state.

Morgan Hill Unified School District’s Ann Sobrato High School was 1,244th nationally and 190th in the state; and Live Oak High School was 5,102nd nationally and 717th in state.

San Benito High School was ranked 4,938th nationally and 700th in the state.

To be considered for GECA, prospective students must submit an application, which must include school records (academic transcript, current year grade report/progress report, disciplinary records and attendance records); a copy of California CAASPP test results, two complete student assessment and recommendation forms from current English and math teachers); student essay; and parent essay.

In addition, students must take the PSAT and submit those results to the school. An in-person panel interview is also part of the process along, with a writing portion.

Application packets can be found at

“If you apply for this innovative, highly supportive and academically challenging program and are selected to attend, your four years of high school will be spent on the Gavilan College campus,” reads the school description. “In four years, you could graduate from GECA with not only a high school degree but also an AA/AS or 60 transferable college units. That means that one could enter the UC, CSU or private four-year university of your choice with your first two years of college fully or nearly completed.”

Dr. TJ Owens Gilroy Early College Academy (GECA)

Nation rank: 42 State rank: 3

National ranks by category

College Readiness Index Rank: 106 (tie)

College Curriculum Breadth Index Rank: 421 (tie)

Math and Reading Proficiency Rank: 55

Math and Reading Performance Rank: 86

Graduation Rate Rank: 1 (tie)

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