Gilroy Early College Academy made this year’s list as one of the top 10 public school sites in the state.
Gilroy Unified School District last month announced GECA was awarded a “Best High School” award for 2020 by U.S. News and World Report.
The school was ranked sixth out of 2,605 high schools in California and nationally ranked 76th out of 17,792 sites.
GECA, which has 288 students enrolled, was also ranked the top school in the San Jose Metro Area High Schools category.
Sonia Flores, principal at GECA, said the award is a testament to the partnership between Gavilan College and Gilroy Unified as well as the hard work of students and staff.
“People typically think GECA is quote, ‘just for the smart kids,’” she said. “And I like to say that GECA is actually for the students who want to go straight to a four-year university after their high school experience and who are very diligent.”
According to U.S. News, graduation rates and college readiness are key factors for the path to a higher education, which are the metrics used to determine the 2020 Best High Schools that were announced April 22.
“We’re just very honored to be recognized,” Flores said.
Gilroy Unified Superintendent Dr. Deborah Flores said in an email that she’s proud of the work that Sonia Flores and her staff are doing at GECA.
“Their effort to provide a rigorous curriculum and challenge their students is reflected in this recognition,” she said. “This award also speaks volumes to the work that our staff is doing at the elementary and middle school levels to prepare their students who attend high school at GECA.”
Sonia Flores said students are dedicated to getting into a four-year university because many of them are the first in their family to attend college, first generation students or may come from a low income background.
“Our school seeks to serve primarily students who are underrepresented at a four-year university,” she said.
The school is located at Gavilan College, giving students access to courses that a comprehensive high school doesn’t provide.
The program is designed so students take high school requirements but their diploma also depends on their ability to finish 40 college units in courses such as world language, electives and visual and performing arts.
“They’re accessing so many elective type classes that are aligned with their future interest,” Flores said.
Flores said some students go above and beyond by getting their associate degree by the time they graduate from the program, which has been around since 2007.
According to U.S. News and World Report, the ranking methodology draws from data for the 2017-2018 school year using both state and federal datasets. The rankings include data on more than 24,000 public high schools throughout the country including the District of Columbia.
GECA was ranked on six factors such as performance on state math and reading proficiency tests.
Other factors include college readiness using Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate examinations and graduation rates.
The rankings also include an analysis of detailed statistical information including school-specific data on enrollment, diversity, graduation rates, participation in free and reduced-price lunch programs, state assessment results along with AP and IB test participation and performance.
“The GECA staff, like the staff members throughout our district, works tirelessly to educate students so they are ready for college and career following graduation from high school,” Deborah Flores said.
Flores said what’s impressive to her is the work that the GECA staff along with Gilroy Unified does to provide for so many needs of our students.
“They are providing educational, social-emotional and support for the whole person,” she said. “That effort is what I am most proud of.”