High School for Dual Language and Asian Studies

An Insideschools pick
350 GRAND STREET
MANHATTAN NY 10002 Map
Phone: (212) 475-4097
Website: Click here
Admissions: Lower East Side priority
Principal: LI YAN
Neighborhood: Lower East Side/ Chinatown
District:2
Grade range: 9-12
Parent Coordinator: HELEN CHENG
Humanities & Interdisciplinary

Buses: M103, M14AD, M15, M15-SBS, M21, M22, M9

What's special:

City's first dual language high school; safe school, and self-disciplined students.

The downside:

Students need more opportunities to interact with classmates who don’t share a native language; space constraints in shared building

InsideSchools Review

Our review:

The High School for Dual Language and Asian Studies opened in September 2003 with the idea that monolingual students who are taught in two languages — in this case, English and Mandarin Chinese— can become proficient in both. Students regard the school as small and safe, but also find it academically demanding, as they are expected to learn a second language within four years.

Building and location: Built in 1929, the large gray building once housed Seward Park High School, a now-closed neighborhood school that educated generations of Lower East Side residents. Remnants of a past era can be seen in the details of the wooden doors, some still bearing glass panes and the original stenciled words designating the purpose of the room.

The High School for Dual Language and Asian Studies moved into the building in 2004, and occupies the fifth floor, which is painted in energizing blocks of yellow and blue. Plenty of writing by students in both English and Chinese is displayed on walls. One bulletin board featured booklets decorated with illustrations featuring Chinese students' personal reflections. One girl wrote, in English, "My mom says my eyes are like stars in the sky. My eyes are my very helpful assistants, they help me to see the beautiful world. Everyone says my eyes are always looking around like the person who has lost one's way."

Because Dual Language shares the building with four other small high schools, storage space is limited, and boxes of materials spill out of the small main office and into hallways. There are no metal detectors guarding entrances, as is common in large city school buildings, and hallways on the fifth floor are often very quiet. Facilities, such as the cafeteria, swimming pool, and two gyms, are also used by New Design High School, Essex Street Academy, Lower Manhattan Arts Academy, and Urban Assembly Academy of Government and Law. Students from all five schools can join PSAL sports teams.

School environment and culture: Students say Dual Language is a very safe school. We saw pockets of teens working quietly or hanging out in empty classrooms and the cafeteria during their free periods. These self-initiated, unsupervised "study groups" are a cultural product of China —the birthplace of more than half the student body— and a result of the faculty's attitude toward young people. "In starting a new school, you really have to trust the kids. With a small staff, we can't follow them everywhere. They have to learn to be responsible," said Principal Li Yan, a longtime educator of English language learners.

The school's small size also gives teachers the chance to communicate with each other about individual students; one teacher said he likes that he gets to know his students very well. We saw teachers, roughly half of whom speak fluent Mandarin, chatting with each other in the hallways during their free periods. The staff leads an "Explore NYC" program for new immigrants, and take students outside of school time to famous city sites, such as the Empire State building or the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Every year, the school moves closer to reaching the ideal ratio of a 50/50 split between native English speakers and native Chinese speakers in its freshman class. In September 2009, Yan estimates that 45 percent of 9th-graders were native English speakers. But because of the academic programming, the two groups don't seem to mingle much until the 11th grade, when they begin to take classes together. During one lunch period, we noticed that most under-classmen tended to stay with their native language peers, and one 10th-grader said students need to make more of an effort to reach out to classmates who don't share the same first language.

The current student body breaks down into three main groups: new immigrants from China, native English-speakers from non-Asian families, and English-speaking Asian-American students who are not literate in Chinese. In addition, the school increasingly attracts graduates of the Shuang Wen School, a challenging K-8 English-Chinese dual language school. Each group presents a different set of skills and challenges; Yan says he programs every student's course schedule himself, and that the curriculum continues to evolve to meet changing student needs.

Teaching and curriculum: The school day is long, with some students beginning their first class at 7:15 a.m. and ending at 4 p.m. Ninth and 10th grades are what Yan calls "foundation years," designed to help students build proficiency in their second language to allow all students to take classes together in 11th and 12th grade. Native English-speakers take a double period of Chinese everyday, and all other subjects are taught in English. In their second year, they are able to write short, one-page compositions in Chinese.

Native Chinese-speakers may take up to three periods of English a day. For other subjects, the school follows a transitional bilingual model designed so that immigrant students can catch up quickly on English-language skills; teachers may communicate in Chinese initially, but gradually move to instruction entirely in English. They also take a Native Language Arts class, a Chinese class that is aligned to the native English or history program.

Most teachers tried to engage their students in discussions but not all were successful. Immigrant students seemed more comfortable with lecture-style instruction, and more reticent about volunteering their opinion in class. On the other hand, students in mixed upper-level classes were much more at ease, participating in discussions and working with one other. In an upper-level English class, students paired up to edit each other's college essays in the computer lab.

All students are required to pass the Chinese Regents, in addition to the five other exams needed for a Regents diploma. The school graduated its third class in June 2009; many of the students who began high school with little knowledge of English gained advanced Regents diplomas. Advanced Placement (AP) Chinese is currently offered for seniors; more AP courses will be offered in September 2009.

Partnerships and programs: NYU undergraduate students provide one-on-one tutoring, while doctoral students in education shadow kids with learning difficulties to develop an intervention plan to help these at-risk students. Some students take classes at NYU, Hunter College, and the Borough of Manhattan Community College. The Chinese American Planning Council (CPC) offers work opportunities and an after school program. CPC also recruits Stuyvesant High School students to volunteer as tutors for Dual Language students.

Family participation: ESL classes are offered to parents. According to Yan, parents are welcome to visit the school anytime they want.

After school: CPC offers a range of extracurricular activities, as well as a program for struggling 9th-graders. A daily program lasts until 6:30 p.m. every day.

Special education: Only SETSS services are offered.

English Language Learners: More than half the students officially qualify for services, and receive them in the form of self-contained ESL classes. More students still need extra language support after they test out of ELL status, according to Yan, who continues to offer those students ESL classes if they need it.

Admissions: Screened. Call the school for a tour.

After graduation: Top graduates have gone onto MIT, NYU, and won scholarships for Georgetown and Cornell Universities. Many go on to CUNY colleges. (Catherine Man, May 2009)

InsideStats

Click tabs above to see school stats

At a glance

Shared campus? Yes

Seward Park Educational Campus

Number of Students 410

Average Daily Attendance 98%

Uniforms? No

Metal detectors? No

Students at this school

Asian

  
91%

Black

  
3%

Hispanic

  
5%

White

  
1%

Free Lunch

  
89%

Special ed

  
2%

English Language Learners

  
36%

INCOMING STUDENTS' PROFICIENCY: 3.30 2.80 CITYWIDE AVERAGE


1 = Far below grade level 2 = Below grade level 3 = At grade level 4 = Above grade level

Safety & vibe

ARE CLASSES BIG?

Number of students in an average english class

31 24 CITYWIDE AVERAGE

DO STUDENTS LIKE THE TEACHERS?

How many students say their teachers inspire them to learn?

69% 64% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

DO TEACHERS LIKE THE PRINCIPAL?

How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?

79% 79% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

IS THIS SCHOOL SAFE?

How many students say they feel safe in hallways, bathrooms and locker rooms?

90% 83% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

 
 

How many teachers say order and discipline are maintained in the school?

92% 80% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

HOW IS
ATTENDANCE?

How Many Students are Chronically Absent?

3% 34% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Who graduates

Class of 2013

How many 2009 freshmen graduated within 4 years?

98% 66% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many 2007 freshmen graduated within 6 years?

100% 75% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Previous Years

How many 2008 freshmen graduated within 4 years?

93% 64% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many 2008 freshmen earned an advanced regents diploma within 4 years?

70% 11% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many 2006 freshmen graduated within 6 years?

94% 73% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many 2008 freshmen dropped out within 4 years?

0% 12% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

College prep

Does this school offer a college preparatory curriculum?

How many students took an AP or IB class and scored at least a "3" on the AP exam or a "4" on the IB exam?

92%

How Many Students took a College Course and Got a "C" or Higher?

43%

How many students passed a Regents exam for algebra 2, physics or chemistry?

89%

Are students ready for college?

How many 2009 freshmen graduated in four years with test scores high enough to enroll at CUNY without remedial help?

83% 27% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

SAT reading scores

440
414 CITYWIDE AVERAGE 496 NATIONWIDE AVERAGE

How many 2009 freshmen graduated in four years and enrolled in college?

97%

SAT math scores

602
425 CITYWIDE AVERAGE 514 NATIONWIDE AVERAGE

Is the guidance counseling helpful?

How many students say that this school provides helpful counseling on college or job-seeking?

79% 75% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Special ed & ELL

How well does this school serve students with disabilities?

How many special ed students starting school in 2008 graduated within 4 years?

NA 44% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many special ed students starting school in 2006 graduated within 6 years?

NA 53% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many students with disabilities spend most of the day with non-disabled peers?

100% 79% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many teachers say students with disabilities are included in all activities?

93% 88% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How well does this school serve English language learners?

How many English language learners starting school in 2008 graduated within 4 years?

38% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many English language learners starting school in 2006 graduated within 6 years?

57% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Programs and Admissions

School admission priorities:

  1. Open to New York City residents

Source: High school directory

High School for Dual Language and Asian Studies

Screened: Language & Academics

Selection Criteria

  • English (80-100) , Math (80-100) , Science (80-100) , Social Studies (80-100)
  • Math Levels: 2-4 ; English Language Arts Levels: 2-4

There may be additional selection criteria, see the High School Directory for more information

Academics

AP COURCES: Biology, Calculus AB, Calculus BC, Chemistry, Chinese Language and Culture, English Language and Composition, Human Geography, Statistics, United States History

Online: N/A

Language classes: Chinese (Mandarin)

Source: High school directory

Sports/Clubs

EXTRACURRICULAR: Academic Enrichment, Art, Bridge, Chess, Chinese Culture and Enrichment, College Prep, Gallery Exhibits, Intramural Basketball, Kaplan SAT Prep, Math Research, Math Team, Peer Tutoring, Ping-Pong, PM School, Saturday Cultural Discovery Program (Explore NYC), Saturday ESL Classes

BOYS PSAL SPORTS: Baseball, Basketball, Bowling, Handball, Volleyball

GIRLS PSAL SPORTS: Basketball, Bowling, Tennis, Volleyball

Other schools sports: Badminton, Ping-Pong, Saturday Fitness, Swimming, Team Sports

Source: High school directory

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