The Middle College at UNC Greensboro is one of just 18 schools across the country to be named a finalist for the 2018 America’s Best Urban Schools Awards.

The awards, given by the National Center for Urban School Transformation, recognize urban schools that achieve excellent academic results for all student groups.

Last year, 86 percent of Middle College at UNCG students who took the ACT were proficient by state standards. The percentage of African American students considered to be proficient (with a score of 17 or higher) on the ACT increased from 64 percent in 2016 to 76 percent last year. Hispanic student ACT scores increased from 80 percent to nearly 95 percent.

The school has consistently met or exceeded expected growth in standardized testing, and the state report card rated it an “A” last year.

Many of the school’s students are first-generation college-bound students. Seventy-four percent are students of color and about 40 percent of students meet low-income criteria. Principal Angela Polk-Jones says the school’s diversity is an asset.

“Everybody brings something to the table. It just goes to show you that everybody is unique and special in their own way and contributes to the success that we experience as a school,” Polk-Jones says. “It truly is an honor to be the inaugural principal of such an outstanding program that my staff, our district, our university partner, parents and I have created.”

A team from the National Center for Urban School Transformation will visit the school this month. The site visits allow the team to increase their knowledge of best teaching and learning practices. Bronze, silver and gold award winners will be announced at the center’s annual symposium in October.