Early College at YSU among elite on state report cards

Youngstown Early College, a partnership of the Youngstown city schools and YSU, is again ranked among the best high schools in the area.

The high school, housed in Fedor Hall on the YSU campus, earned four A grades and one B grade on the recently released and newly developed Ohio School Report Cards.

That puts YEC in some pretty elite company. Only seven other high schools in Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties earned at least four A grades on the report cards – Canfield, Poland, South Range, Western Reserve, Champion, Maplewood and McDonald.

“That’s where we should be,” YEC Principal Monica Jones said about ranking alongside high schools that are historically considered to be among the best in the region.

“We are a city school. We know that. We understand that. We know the challenges that come with that. But we at YEC are all about demystifying that. We remove all of the barriers and obstacles, and that allows our students to be successful.”

Charles Howell, dean of the YSU Beeghly College of Education, added, “The results are highly promising and have been getting better year by year.”

YEC, started in 2004, enrolls Youngstown city school ninth- through 12th-graders who Jones said are considered academically at risk. Students take high school classes at Fedor and, at the same time, upper class students enroll in regular YSU college classes. In four years, students graduate with a high school diploma, and some have enough college credits for an associate’s degree. After graduating from YEC, about 80 percent of the students enroll at YSU to pursue bachelor’s degrees, Jones said.

Since the first graduating class in 2008, 44 YEC students have earned associate’s degrees, and 11 have gone on to earn YSU bachelor’s degrees. More than half of the 47 students in the 2013 graduating class earned 50 college credits or more, an achievement that Howell called “truly impressive.”

Howell said the school, which enrolls 207 students and has 13 teachers, directly addresses President Obama’s mandate to increase the proportion of Americans who earn college degrees.

Prior to the new Ohio report cards, YEC was recognized for five consecutive years as an Ohio School of Excellence. On this year’s report card, the school is lauded for student academic achievement, for narrowing the achievement gap among students and for graduation rates – 98 percent of YEC students graduate within four years.

Jones, who this year replaced long-time principal Michele Dotson, said it’s all about expectations.

“We have an expectation for our kids to excel,” she said. “It’s a very rigorous track, but it’s the expectation that they meet those standards and are successful.”