H.S. 560 City-As-School

An Insideschools pick for Special Education
16 CLARKSON STREET
MANHATTAN NY 10014 Map
Phone: (212) 337-6800
Website: Click here
Admissions: 17+ with 20 credits
Principal: Alan Cheng
Neighborhood: West Village
District: 2
Grade range: 10-12
Parent Coordinator: MARIA BERMUDEZ
Transfer Alternative

What's special:

Internships, high expectations and intensive support give students a second chance.

The downside:

The school needs more space for collaborative learning, technology and a real gym.

InsideSchools Review

Our review:

City-As-School has provided a non-traditional academic haven for struggling students since 1972. It welcomes students who lost their way when they lost their homes, high-achieving kids who got off-track and were alienated at the city's top schools and teens who dropped out from boredom or because they were bullied one too many times for the way they looked.

The school is built around the idea that real-life experiences and hands-on learning will engage students. Most are 17 or 18 years old when they arrive. There are no grades, and City-As is part of a group of high schools that are exempt from all Regents except the English exam. In some ways, however, the school is more demanding than many traditional ones.

"There's no game that gets played," says Principal Alan Cheng, who is only the fourth principal since the school opened. "You've chosen to come here."

All students choose from more than 400 internships, which take up 15 to 25 hours per week. They rotate every eight weeks and are coupled with a set of readings and a weekly seminar. There are 15 full-time internship coordinators who place students in bakeries, nursing homes, senators' offices, the United Nations, bike shops and radio stations, to name a few. They are not meant to be vocational apprenticeships. "You don't work with a chef to learn how to cook," says Cheng, "but to build the skills and experience to choose a path that will be right for you." The goal is to develop intellectual curiosity as well as knowledge that will help students understand what it takes to make it in the world. "We are building stick-to-it-ness," says Cheng.

Teachers here are on a mission. They are allowed to design their own classes, rarely leave and many have 20 years or more of teaching experience. Some are also alums of the school and are starkly aware of the obstacles their students face.

Some students are undocumented immigrants, who must work and send money back home. Others are 18-year-olds living on their own, and some lack stable housing of any kind. Others transfer in from some of the city's most selective schools, such as Stuyvesant and LaGuardia. To handle the enormity of social issues, City-As has a battery of psychologists, guidance counselors, attendance teachers who do home visits, and a LYFE Center where students can leave their young children. Social workers help connect students to health care, legal assistance and food pantries.

Staff advisors are responsible for 20 students. There is a focus on building relationships among students and adults. "Advisors are responsible for pretty much everything about that child," said Cheng. "What is their relationship status? What happened to them yesterday? Did they have a fight with their grandmother?"

Much of the energy is focused on preparing students for what they will have to deal with after graduation. "We have never thought of ourselves as just a high school in terms of getting a diploma," says Cheng, "but what knowledge and behavior skills are necessary to succeed? Can they present themselves and information in a confident and clear way? Can they collaborate?" A full-time staff member works with students during their post-high school year. Another goes to CUNY colleges during summer and early fall to make sure everyone makes it through the enrollment process.

Classes usually include 15 to 20 students and are built around learning from experience. Students build "portfolios" and must present their work to their peers and panels of experts to graduate. In a science class on toxicology, students experiment with what grows well in the school's indoor garden. They then work with students in an economics class to start a small business, make lunches and sell them. On our visit we saw students working hard in classrooms and in the library. There were several students who arrived late to classes, but they got to work without disruption.

High-achieving students can take classes at the New School or the Borough of Manhattan Community College. Languages offered include Mandarin, Italian, French and Latin. Until 2012 the school had sites in Brooklyn and the Bronx in addition to Manhattan, but decided to consolidate them to better utilize staff and resources.

College: There is a dedicated college counselor and a career partnership coordinator who helps interested students set up a vocational year after high school. Students attend many different types of colleges including CUNYs and SUNYs, Hampshire, Williams, Green Mountain, Vanderbilt, Sarah Lawrence, Wesleyan, Oberlin, and Evergreen.

Special education: All students are integrated into mainstream classes, including those who were previously assigned to self-contained classrooms or are coming from institutions.

Admissions: Students are admitted in September, January and April. Students must be at least 17, although sometimes exceptions are made, and have at least 20 academic credits, including three in science and three in math. Interested students must attend an open house, held at the school twice a week, and go through an interview. (Meredith Kolodner, May 2012)

InsideStats

Click tabs above to see school stats

At a glance

Shared campus? Yes

This school shares a building with a District 75 program, P.S. M721- Manhattan Occupational Training Center

Number of Students 612

Average Daily Attendance 50%

Uniforms? No

Metal detectors? No

Students at this school

Asian

  
5%

Black

  
34%

Hispanic

  
43%

White

  
16%

Free Lunch

  
57%

Special ed

  
19%

English Language Learners

  
3%

INCOMING STUDENTS' PROFICIENCY: NA 2.39 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 NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

DO STUDENTS LIKE THE TEACHERS?

How many students say their teachers inspire them to learn?

98% 74% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

DO TEACHERS LIKE THE PRINCIPAL?

How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?

62% 77% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

IS THIS SCHOOL SAFE?

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

98% 84% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

 
 

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

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

HOW IS
ATTENDANCE?

How Many Students are Chronically Absent?

96% 41% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Who graduates

Class of 2015

How many students graduated within 4 years?

40% 69% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

0% 11% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many students graduated within 6 years?

58% 77% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many graduates dropped out within 4 years?

6% 9% 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?

NA

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

NA

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

NA

Are students ready for college?

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

11% 32% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

SAT reading scores

NA
424 CITYWIDE AVERAGE 495 NATIONWIDE AVERAGE

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

42% 64% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

SAT math scores

NA
432 CITYWIDE AVERAGE 511 NATIONWIDE AVERAGE

Is the guidance counseling helpful?

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

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Special ed & ELL

How well does this school serve students with disabilities?

How many special ed students graduated within 4 years?

28% 48% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many special ed students graduated within 6 years?

56% 57% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How well does this school serve English language learners?

How many English language learners graduated within 4 years?

48% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many English language learners graduated within 6 years?

56% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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