Williamsburg Charter High School

198 VARET STREET
BROOKLYN NY 11206 Map
Phone: (718) 782-9830
Website: Click here
Admissions: Lottery/District 14 priority
Principal: Kathleen Gaffney
Neighborhood: Bushwick
District: 14
Grade range: 9-12
Charter School

What's special:

New building and Latin Instruction

The downside:

Disappointing graduation rate; high principal turnover.

InsideSchools Review

Our review:

Williamsburg Charter High School was designed to offer a demanding curriculumincluding two years of Latin and four years of math and sciencein a neighborhood with few options for college-bound students. The school has a new building, an extended day (with classes from 7:55 a.m. to 4:10 p.m. most days), and more extensive special education services than many other charter schools. However, it has had a revolving door of principals, significant staff turnover, and disappointing levels of academic achievement. Only about half of the students graduate on time, a decline from the school’s first years.

Marsha Spampinato, the school's founding principal who left for a job closer to her Long Island home in 2008, returned in June 2010 to "get us back to where we should be." There were three other principals, called "instructional directors" during her two-year absence. "The bar has to be higher. We can't just allow our students to squeak by," she said. She has hired several new staff members to coach teachers and counsel students.

School founder Eddie Calderon-Melendez, who serves as the CEO of Williamsburg and the two other charter schools in the Believe Network, attributes the school's declining graduation rate to changes in the student body, noting that average reading levels for incoming freshman has decreased significantly since the school first opened in 2004. "We don't push out students," he said. "If it takes you five years or six years [to graduate], then it will take that long."

On our visit, the classes seemed to be standard high school fare: Ninth graders were dissecting frogs in biology and reading Romeo and Juliet in English. Tenth graders were reading Lord of the Flies and 11th graders were reading the Crucible. Most students paid attention, and class changes were orderly. Students wear dark green blazer or cardigan, white button down shirt, tie, khaki pants or a knee-length skirt and black shoes.

The school's new building, opened in 2010 in an industrial area of Bushwick, is clean and bright, with big windows in every classroom. However, it has no outdoor space, and there were some glitches at the time of our visit. An open space on each floor, intended as area where students could relax, was converted to classrooms without walls, which some students found distracting. Administrators said walls would be built in the future.

There are two college counselors on staff. Recent graduates have gone to SUNY and CUNY schools, as well as some private colleges.

Special education: About 14 percent of students receive special education services. The school has two speech teachers and several special education teachers. English as a Second Language classes are offered once a day.

Admissions: Students are admitted by lottery. (Jill Grossman, December 2010)

InsideStats

Click tabs above to see school stats

At a glance

Shared campus? No

This school is in its own building

Number of Students 969

Average Daily Attendance 90%

Uniforms? NA

Metal detectors? NA

Students at this school

Asian

  
0%

Black

  
34%

Hispanic

  
64%

White

  
1%

Free Lunch

  
86%

Special ed

  
14%

English Language Learners

  
5%

INCOMING STUDENTS' PROFICIENCY: 2.80 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

NA 25 CITYWIDE AVERAGE

DO STUDENTS LIKE THE TEACHERS?

How many students say their teachers inspire them to learn?

65% 63% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

DO TEACHERS LIKE THE PRINCIPAL?

How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?

99% 78% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

IS THIS SCHOOL SAFE?

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

88% 82% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

 
 

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

89% 77% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

HOW IS
ATTENDANCE?

How Many Students are Chronically Absent?

NA 38% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Who graduates

Class of 2013

How many students graduated within 4 years?

79% 70% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many students graduated within 6 years?

79% 78% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Previous Years

How many students graduated within 4 years?

71% 66% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

7% 12% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many students graduated within 6 years?

84% 75% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many graduates dropped out within 4 years?

7% 11% 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?

4%

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

7%

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

16%

Are students ready for college?

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

14% 27% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

SAT reading scores

475
414 CITYWIDE AVERAGE 496 NATIONWIDE AVERAGE

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

66% 62% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

SAT math scores

473
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% 76% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Special ed & ELL

How well does this school serve students with disabilities?

How many special ed students graduated within 4 years?

71% 45% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many special ed students graduated within 6 years?

73% 53% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

NA 68% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

95% 89% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How well does this school serve English language learners?

How many English language learners graduated within 4 years?

40% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many English language learners graduated within 6 years?

58% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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