Early College High School recently celebrated having the highest high school score on the S.C. Report Card, scoring an Excellent designation with a score of 87 out of 100.
“We were so excited to hear the news of earning [the rating]. Our faculty, staff, students, parents and all involved work so hard to ensure we are doing the best job we can do,” said ECHS Principal Kandi Fleming.
Fleming said the school’s high graduation rate is part of the reason for the exceptional score.
“We have worked so hard to ensure all of our students understand how important a high school diploma is and to successfully complete all the requirements for graduation,” Fleming said.
ECHS was founded in 2006. It was originally a collaborative effort between the Horry County School District, Coastal Carolina University, Horry-Georgetown Technical College and local businessmen interested in giving children whose families didn’t normally pursue higher education an opportunity to get college credits while attending high school.
The school blends four years of high school and two years of college into one four-year program, and students from all nine Horry County attendance areas attend class at ECHS on the Horry-Georgetown Technical College campus.
Two years ago, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos recognized the school as a National Blue Ribbon School. At the time, DeVos’ announcement said that ECHS was one of only 341 schools in the nation to be recognized that year. There are about 130,000 schools in the United States, she said.
“National Blue Ribbon Schools are active demonstrations of preparing every child for a bright future,” said DeVos in a pre-recorded video in 2017. “You are visionaries, innovators and leaders. You have much to teach us.”
Marsha Griffin, executive director of the Horry County K-12 Foundation, a group that provides financial support to ECHS, said a large part of ECHS’ population are first-generation college students.
“We’re taking that middle quartile…first-generation students and we’re the strongest school. That speaks volumes,” Griffin said.
Griffin said when students start at ECHS in the ninth grade, they know they have the opportunity for two big options – to finish high school with a degree from HGTC, as well as the opportunity to be involved in one of three scholarship programs that “fill the tuition gap” for them to attend CCU, the University of South Carolina or Francis Marion University.
One big part of the curriculum that makes ECHS stand out, Griffin said, is their AVID (Advancement Via Individual Attention) program.
“It’s one of the most progressive ‘getting ready for studying’ programs in the nation. They learn note taking, being organized and study skills elements. It’s just incredible,” Griffin said. “They start taking college classes in the second semester of tenth grade.”
Fleming agreed, saying their College and Career Readiness is another facet of the report card score.
“Having the opportunity to take college classes in the tenth grade and successfully complete an associate’s degree is another benefit,” Fleming said. “We are working to make sure all students are prepared for the college and/or the career they are destined for.”
Other high school ratings for the district included Aynor High – Excellent, 68; Carolina Forest High – Excellent, 70; Conway High – Average, 56; Green Sea Floyds High – Good, 62; Loris High – Average, 59; Myrtle Beach High – Good, 62; North Myrtle Beach High – Excellent, 68; Palmetto Academy of Learning Motorsports – Unsatisfactory, 36; Socastee High – Excellent, 69; and St. James High – Excellent, 68.
To view the full report cards for each school and school level, go to www.screportcards.com