John Adams High School

101-01 ROCKAWAY BOULEVARD
QUEENS NY 11417 Map
Phone: (718) 322-0500
Website: Click here
Admissions: Ed opt, zoned
Principal: Daniel Scanlon
Neighborhood: Ozone Park
District: 27
Grade range: 9-12
Parent Coordinator: Manakshi Panindranauth
Humanities & Interdisciplinary
Performing Arts
Health Professions
Engineering
Zoned
Business
Communications

Buses: Q11, Q112, Q37, Q41, Q53, Q7

What's special:

Small learning communities, innovative efforts to improve school culture

The downside:

School still has a way to go

InsideSchools Review

Our review:

For years, John Adams High School has teetered on the brink of closure and struggled to attract students. Its administration and faculty hope to change that by strengthening academics, creating new courses, improving the school's environment and providing an array of supports to struggling students. John Adams certainly is a far more appealing school than it once was, but it remains to be seen whether Principal Daniel Scanlon and his staff can succeed in making the school an attractive option for 8th-graders and fend off attempts to close it.

Adams was one of 33 schools slated for closure in 2013, but it got a reprieve when a lawsuit blocked the closings. Now, though, Adams is among eight city schools on a state "out of time" list, indicating it must make major changes or be closed or taken over by another entity, such as a charter operator.

Scanlon came to the school in 2013 after serving as an assistant principal at Hillcrest High School and soon embarked on a campaign to rebuild Adams. "We looked at every single aspect of the building from A to Z. And that was the easy part," he said. Putting the resulting turnaround plan into effect could take five years, administrators say.

Key to it are small learning communities, most of them geared to a student interest. Each has its own teachers, guidance counselor, dean and designated area of the building. Ninth-graders are in one—dubbed Jump Start—where they get academic support intended to prepare them for high school work. They attend class in an annex about a mile away or in trailers on the school grounds. There are also learning communities for English language learners and for seniors who need an extra boost to graduate on time.

Most of the communities, though, are geared to a particular theme and offer electives in that area. Two—S.T.E.M. Engineering and Arts History and Fine Arts—screen students for admission. Adams is opening an Air Force ROTC and plans to add a screened program featuring the International Baccalaureate, a challenging curriculum that stresses student projects. The school also has programs in environment and science, law, health careers, media and communication and business. "We want to try to make opportunities available to kids," Scanlon said. "We're trying to find something for every student."

Adams has many English language learners, including students who speak Spanish, Bengali and Urdu. It also has many young people over-age for their grade and others who may have come from the criminal justice system. "We try not to focus on the negative," Assistant Principal Scott Silverman said. "We need to figure out what’s going on emotionally" with students who act out or who have struggled "and support them and empower them." The school tracks students to quickly detect who is faltering academically or failing to come to school. Different levels of interventions then come into play.

Adams's curriculum is being revamped to align with Common Core Standards and to be more engaging and interdisciplinary.  Many students struggle with writing, so teachers in all subjects focus on that, using the Hochman method, which breaks writing down into specific strategies that students can use in all classes.

Some of the school’s academic goals are fairly basic: getting 75 percent student scores on Regents exams and having most students take four years in each of four major subjects. (Many now take fewer than that because they need to make up credits.)

Other aims are more advanced, including college readiness and college attendance. Adams offers college credit courses in conjunction with York College and Queens Community College and also gives Advanced Placement classes. In an AP Spanish class we visited, students worked intently, drafting an essay in Spanish about social media.

Classes are orderly, though an advanced student might find some slow moving. In 11th-grade English, students discussed a selection from The Great Gatsby. Most focused on the passage, which was on the white board, but Scanlon noted that students might not read the entire novel. Students seem particularly involved in electives tied to their learning community.

Staff learned from student feedback that many children did not want to be at Adams, which Scanlon himself described as having been punitive and drab. That has led to such changes as the offering of research electives where students work on topics of their own choosing, and installing game tables in the cafeteria to relieve boredom at lunch.

To improve discipline, Adams has implemented Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports, which focuses on rewarding and reinforcing positive actions. (For a prize-winning video by Adams students that came out of this approach, visit the school website.) In the first year the program reduced suspensions by half and increased attendance, according to Scanlon. The school also reports an increase in applicants.

While the building retains an institutional feel, student murals now decorate many of the hallways. There is new technology, including interactive white boards in classrooms, computers available for some classes and about 70 computers in the renovated library, now a media center. Silverman said the administration wants the environment to be safe and welcoming. "Without that, you're doomed," he said.

As part of the city's renewal program for struggling schools, Adams has a health clinic operated by North Shore LIJ Hospital. The school will be matched with a community-based organization to provide other non-academic services.

Scanlon hopes the services and new program offerings will appeal to 8th-graders who may not feel confident in their abilities or be sure what they want to do. Adams, he said, will "give them an opportunity to test the waters."

SPECIAL EDUCATION: Adams offers a range of services and supports, including self-contained and ICT (integrated co-teaching) classes.

ADMISSIONS: Criteria vary among the learning communities, with some screened programs and others using the educational option method, which seeks to ensure admission to students with a range of academic abilities. There is also a zoned program for students living in the area. Given a shortage of applicants, most students who apply will be admitted. (Gail Robinson, March 2015)

InsideStats

Click tabs above to see school stats

At a glance

Shared campus? No

This school is in its own building

Number of Students 2634

Average Daily Attendance 81%

Uniforms? No

Metal detectors? Yes

Students at this school

Asian

  
27%

Black

  
24%

Hispanic

  
38%

White

  
3%

Free Lunch

  
87%

Special ed

  
16%

English Language Learners

  
20%

INCOMING STUDENTS' PROFICIENCY: 2.25 2.40 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

19 25 CITYWIDE AVERAGE

DO STUDENTS LIKE THE TEACHERS?

How many students say their teachers inspire them to learn?

58% 63% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

DO TEACHERS LIKE THE PRINCIPAL?

How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?

81% 78% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

IS THIS SCHOOL SAFE?

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

70% 82% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

 
 

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

69% 77% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

HOW IS
ATTENDANCE?

How Many Students are Chronically Absent?

49% 38% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Who graduates

Class of 2014

How many students graduated within 4 years?

55% 73% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many students graduated within 6 years?

65% 80% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Previous Years

How many students graduated within 4 years?

52% 65% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many graduates earned an advanced regents diploma within 4 years?

4% 11% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many students graduated within 6 years?

69% 75% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many graduates dropped out within 4 years?

20% 10% 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?

2%

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

19%

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

7%

Are students ready for college?

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

12% 27% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

SAT reading scores

397
418 CITYWIDE AVERAGE 497 NATIONWIDE AVERAGE

How many students graduated in four years and enrolled in college?

50% 63% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

SAT math scores

404
426 CITYWIDE AVERAGE 513 NATIONWIDE AVERAGE

Is the guidance counseling helpful?

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

68% 76% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Special ed & ELL

How well does this school serve students with disabilities?

How many special ed students graduated within 4 years?

38% 47% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many special ed students graduated within 6 years?

41% 54% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

70% 68% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

89% 89% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How well does this school serve English language learners?

How many English language learners graduated within 4 years?

37% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many English language learners graduated within 6 years?

56% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Programs and Admissions

School admission priorities:

  1. Open to New York City residents
  2. For Zoned Program only: Guaranteed offer to students who apply and live in the zoned area.

Source: High school directory 2014-2015

Environmental and Science Research Institute

Ed. Opt.

Prepares students for careers in engineering, science research, and the environment. Students can take courses in robotics, microbiology, and anatomy.

Law and International Studies Institute

Ed. Opt.

Prepares students for careers in social sciences, law, and international relations; students will participate in Model UN, Moot Court and Mock Trial.

Health Careers

Ed. Opt.

Health Careers includes an approved curricula in Medical Laboratory Assisting and a new curricula in Sports Medicine; students in this Career and Technical Education (CTE) program may have the opportunity for paid internships in hospitals and medical offices.

Media & Communication Arts Institute

Ed. Opt.

Prepares students for careers in journalism, video production, studio recording, writing, theater, fine arts; students will participate in the school paper, yearbook, play productions, and the literary magazine.

Business Institute

Ed. Opt.

Prepares students for careers in business and computer science; students will participate in Virtual Enterprise, Co-Op Tech and internships.

S.T.E.M. Engineering Academy

Screened

Students will have the opportunity to bring computer-generated images to reality in an engineering environment. Students will participate in competitions throughout the year and will be prepared to sit for a proficiency exam to earn industry certification.

Selection Criteria

  • English (75-100) , Math (75-100) , Science (75-100) , Social Studies (75-100)
  • Math Levels: Levels 2-4 ; English Language Arts Levels: Levels 2-4

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

Art History & Fine Arts

Screened

There are three tracks to the fine arts program: art history (includes visual arts), theater, and technical music. Students will take the three-year Art Regents exam and then have the opportunity to take Advanced Placement Art History as a junior or senior. Music students will also have the opportunity to participate in New York State School Music Association (NYSSMA) activities while developing their instrumental and vocal skills.

Selection Criteria

  • English (75-100) , Math (75-100) , Science (75-100) , Social Studies (75-100)
  • Math Levels: Levels 2-4 ; English Language Arts Levels: Levels 2-4

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

Zoned

Zoned

Academics

AP COURSES: Biology, Calculus AB, Calculus BC, Chemistry, English Literature and Composition, Environmental Science, Spanish Language and Culture, United States History, World History

Online: Biology, Calculus AB, Calculus BC, Chemistry, English Literature and Composition, Environmental Science, Spanish Language and Culture, United States History, World History

Language classes: Bengali, Spanish, Spanish Native Language Arts

Source: High school directory 2014-2015

Sports/Clubs

EXTRACURRICULAR: College Now, Drama Productions, Mock Trial, Police Athletic League (PAL) Neighborhood Cleanup, Robotics, Yearbook, Afro-American Club, Archon, Arista, Artsonia, Asian Club, Callandra, Campus Newspaper, College Summit, Debate, Environmental, Explorers, Film, For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) Robotics, Foreign Language, Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA), Key Club, Liberty Partnership, Math Team, Mock Trial, Model Congress, Model UN, Moot Court, Multicultural, National Honor Society, Peer Tutoring, Photo, SAT Prep, Saturday Literacy Center, SAYA!, School Leadership Team, Student Government

BOYS PSAL SPORTS: Baseball & JV Baseball, Basketball & JV Basketball, Bowling, Football, Handball, Indoor Track, Outdoor Track, Soccer, Swimming, Tennis, Volleyball

GIRLS PSAL SPORTS: Basketball & JV Basketball, Bowling, Double Dutch, Handball, Indoor Track, Lacrosse, Outdoor Track, Soccer, Softball & JV Softball, Swimming, Volleyball & JV Volleyball

Other schools sports: Cheerleading, Intramural Sports

Source: High school directory 2014-2015

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