Gilroy Early College Academy

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Dr. TJ Owens
Gilroy Early College Academy
GECA logo.png
Gavilan College campus in autumn.jpg
near Gilroy
United States
TypeEarly College Academy
MottoBe someone.
Go somewhere.
Seek Excellence.
School districtGilroy Unified School District
OversightWestern Association of Schools and Colleges
SuperintendentDeborah Flores
PrincipalSonia Flores
Staff10.42 (FTE)[1]
Enrollment305 (2018–19)[1]
Student to teacher ratio29.27[1]
Color(s)   Red and black

Dr. TJ Owens Gilroy Early College Academy (known as GECA) is a prestigious early college high school located in unincorporated Santa Clara County, California, near Gilroy,[2] at the southern edge of Silicon Valley, in the San Francisco Bay Area. A California Distinguished School,[3] GECA regularly ranks among the top high schools in California and consistently ranks within the top 1% of the best high schools in the United States.[4][5][6][7]

Founded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, GECA operates as an early college school, requiring its students to receive their college preparatory education through a mixture of honors high school classes, Advanced Placement (AP), and college classes, offered through partnership with Gavilan College, allowing most GECA students to graduate high school with an associate's degree.

GECA students have regularly been selected as National Merit Scholars and U.S. Presidential Scholars.[8][9][10][11][12]


GECA was founded through a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and is now solely funded by the California Department of Education.[13]

Dr. T.J. Owens, GECA's namesake, was the former Dean of Students at Gavilan College and president of the Gilroy Unified School Board.[14] A prominent member of the national organization 100 Black Men of America and civil rights activist, Dr. Owens was a key figure in GECA's inception, but died two years before the early college academy was established.[15]


Approximately 90 percent of the class of 2011 graduated and entered a four-year university or continued their education at Gavilan with the intention to transfer to one.[13]

The school's non-weighted average API from 2011 to 2013 is 929 schoolwide, 900 for socioeconomically disadvantaged students, and 869 for English learners.[16] Statewide, students of all groups average 790, socioeconomically disadvantaged students 742, and English learners 717.[17]

GECA is one of ten schools participating in A Study of American Public High Schools with Academically-Competitive Admissions sponsored by Stanford University's Hoover Institution and the Thomas B. Fordham Institute.[13][18]


GECA is regularly ranked as one of the best high schools in California and the United States as a whole.[19][20][21][22][23] GECA is the best performing of the 28 early college high schools in California.[13]

The school was ranked 10th best in California and 54th best in the United States on the 2015 U.S. News & World Report rankings.[24]

GECA was ranked 23rd best high school in California, and above 99% of 20,500 public high schools across the entire United States, placing 172 out of 20,500.[25]

GECA is one of 40 Beat the Odds Schools in a study conducted by WestEd, which identified 40 schools that consistently and significantly outperforming schools with similar demographics on the California Standards Tests and the California Academic High School Exit Exam.[26]


GECA was awarded the classification of California Distinguished School in 2013, which was renewed in 2019.[27][28]

GECA was awarded the California Gold Ribbon in 2015.[29]



  • 236 students: 114 Male (48.3%), 122 Female (51.7%)
Asian White Hispanic Two or More Races African American Filipino Pacific Islander American Indian Not Reported
49 79 99 4 1 3 0 1 0
20.8% 33.5% 41.9% 1.7% 0.4% 1.3% 0% 0.4% 0%

Student life[edit]

Student Leadership

The GECA Associated Student Body (ASB) organizes events to foster school spirit and assists students in setting up clubs.[31] Tribunal is the judicial branch of student government and addresses honor code violations such as bullying, cheating, and other behavioral issues.[32]


Student clubs include the gay-straight alliance, FLC club (currently suspended), film club,[31] CSF (California Scholarship Federation), Yearbook, Outreach club, Red Cross club, Ignite (religion club), Operation Smile, Athletics Club, and Robotics Club.[31] At the beginning of first semester, students can start a club if they meet certain requirements.


  1. ^ a b c "Dr. TJ Owens Gilroy Early College Academy". National Center for Education Statistics. Retrieved November 7, 2020.
  2. ^ "Main Campus - Gilroy". Gavilan College. Retrieved 2019-08-05.
  3. ^ SF Gate - 32 Bay Area Schools on State's Distinguished List
  4. ^ "US News & World Report High School Rankings 2015".
  5. ^ Silicon Valley Business Journal - These Silicon Valley Schools Rule in New Rankings
  6. ^ KRON4 - List of Top California High Schools: See Which Bay Area Schools Made It
  7. ^ Mercury news - U.S. school rankings: Santa Cruz charter is No. 10; five Bay Area schools in top 100
  8. ^ Mercury News - National Merit Semifinalists Announced
  9. ^ Mercury News - National Merit Scholarships 2018 Semifinalists Named
  10. ^ Mercury News - California National Merit Scholar Semifinalists Announced
  11. ^ Mercury News - U.S. Presidential Scholars: Scores of South Bay & Peninsula Students Among Candidates
  12. ^ Five South County students named Nat’l Merit Scholar semifinalists
  13. ^ a b c d "Early-College Academy Receives High Marks in Uncertain Budget Climate". Gilroy Dispatch.
  14. ^ "Who was Dr. TJ Owens?".
  15. ^ "Trustee TJ Owens Dies After Stroke". Gilroy Dispatch.
  16. ^ "Dr. TJ Owens Gilroy Early College Academy API". California Department of Education.
  17. ^ "2013 Growth API Report". California Department of Education.
  18. ^ "Nationally acclaimed Fordhan/Hoover Institute visitation".
  19. ^ Patch - California Has 524 U.S. News Best Schools In The Country For 2018
  20. ^ Patch - Two Stockton Schools Rank in California's 25 Best High Schools: U.S. News Rankings 2016
  21. ^ NBC Bay Area - Six Bay Area High Schools Among Top 100 in the Nation
  22. ^ KRON4 - Best Bay Area High Schools Ranked
  23. ^ KSBW - Central Coast's Top Rated Schools
  24. ^ "US News & World Report High School Rankings 2015".
  25. ^ "GECA ranked 23rd in California for academics".
  26. ^ "Positive school climate boosts test scores, study says". EdSource.
  27. ^ "2013 Distinguished Middle and High Schools". California Department of Education.
  28. ^ California Department of Education - Distinguished Schools 2019
  29. ^ California Department of Education - Gold Ribbon Schools 2015
  30. ^ "Enrollment by Ethnicity for 2013–14: Dr. TJ Owens Gilroy Early College Academy". California Department of Education.
  31. ^ a b c "GECA ASB - Clubs".
  32. ^ "Honor Tribunal".

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 36°58′25″N 121°34′07″W / 36.9737°N 121.5686°W / 36.9737; -121.5686