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Toledo Early College High School

 

Toledo Early College High School, or TECHS, is a selective-admissions school located on the University of Toledo’s Scott Park campus. Affiliated with the Early College High School Initiative, the school was awarded a $400,000 grant by the KnowledgeWorks Foundation to begin operations. To apply, students must qualify for free or reduced-price lunch, be an ethnic minority or an English language learner, and be the first in their families to attend college.

Although TECHS opened only in 2005, the school has achieved many successes. It received a designation of “excellent” for the 2008-09 and 2009-10 school years by the Ohio Department of Education. On the Ohio Graduation Tests for 2009-10, TECHS students outperformed their peers across the district and state in proficiency of tested subjects. At least 94 percent of 10th-graders at the school scored at or above required state levels for proficiency in all subjects, and 100 percent of 11th-graders at the school scored at or above proficiency levels. In the 2008-09 school year, students achieved a 98.2 percent attendance rate.

At TECHS, 77 percent of teachers hold at least a master’s degree. While teachers are responsible for the core high school classes at the school, students also take college-level courses at the university. Most students completing this dual-credit program graduate with between 50 and 60 college credit hours. University of Toledo tuition, college textbooks and other resource materials are available at no cost to TECHS students.

Tim Bollin, a science teacher who has worked at TECHS since its founding, attributes its success to high expectations among students and staff. Everyone at the school expects to attend college, and students encourage each other to succeed. “Students work together to improve their weaknesses and build on their strengths,” he says. “If a student is having an issue in my class, there will probably be two or three or four other students who get to them before I do.”

Bollin says teachers at TECHS work well together and have a lot of time to plan interdisciplinary units. They also set aside time to talk about students’ needs and how best to intervene. When a student struggles, teachers view it not as an individual problem but as a school problem, he says. “Because we’re a small school, we have the mentality that all students will succeed.”

In March 2010, TECHS was placed on a tentative list of school closures, pending residents’ vote on an additional levy on earned income. But residents, parents and students protested the tentative closure. The Toledo Blade reported that during one hearing on the issue, a grandparent of a TECHS student proclaimed, “They love it. Nobody had to hold their hand, they went and did it.” In the end, residents passed the tax hike, preferring an additional levy on their income over shutting down the successful school.

 

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