North Houston Early College High School on Tuesday received its first-ever 2015 National Blue Ribbon Schools Award from U.S Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan. The school was among just 335 schools nationwide and 25 public schools in Texas to receive the honor.
The National Blue Ribbon Schools Award honors public and private elementary, middle, and high schools where students either achieve very high learning standards or are making notable improvements in closing the achievement gap, especially among disadvantaged and minority students.
North Houston Early — one of five early college campuses in the Houston Independent School District — was recognized as an “Exemplary High Performing” school for being among the state’s highest performing schools as measured by state assessments or nationally normed tests. Schools that receive this distinction also show high levels of performance and graduation rates in all student subgroups.
Ninety-one percent of the North Houston Early students are considered economically disadvantaged.
“It is truly an honor for a campus so young to be recognized for its academic achievements at the national level,” said North Houston Early Principal Angela Lundy-Jackson, who was named the Region 4 Secondary Principal of the Year in June. “It a true validation of the work and the sacrifices we make to ensure our students leave high school with the opportunity to earn an associate’s degree. This recognition is a pathway to our future success, as our goal is to afford many generations of underserved, first-generation college students to come.”
Since North Houston Early opened its doors in 2008, students have been able to earn both a high school diploma and an associate’s degree from Houston Community College. In 2015, 53 of the 89 students who graduated from the high school did so with an associate’s degree.
“This honor recognizes your students’ accomplishments and the hard work and dedication that went into their success,” Duncan said. “Your journey has taught you collaboration, intentional instruction, and strong relationships in school and with your community. You represent excellence – in vision, in implementation, and in results – and we want to learn as much as we can from you.”
The Department of Education will honor all of the schools at a recognition ceremony Nov. 9-10 in Washington, D.C. A district celebration is also being planned for later this year.
North Houston Early was named one of America’s Most Challenging High Schools by the Washington Post in 2014 and 2015. The school is also ranked by Children at Risk as one of the top 10 schools in the greater Houston area.
NHECHS is one of 40 schools being replaced or renovated through the 2012 bond. Construction of the brand-new facility is well under way, and the school celebrated a milestone in its assembly this summer.