Community Health Academy of the Heights

504 WEST 158TH STREET
MANHATTAN NY 10032 Map
Phone: (212) 342-6600
Website: Click here
Admissions: Unzoned/interview
Principal: Mark House
Neighborhood: Washington Heights
District: 6
Grade range: 6-12
Parent Coordinator: Aida Crespo
Humanities & Interdisciplinary

Buses: Bx6, Bx7, M10, M100, M101, M2, M3, M4, M5

What's special:

Strong partnerships with health organizations

The downside:

Some teachers report problems with order and discipline

InsideSchools Review

Our review:

APRIL 2013 UPDATE: Formerly hosted in two separate buildings, Community Health Academy of the Heights moved to a new building at 504 W. 158th Street in September 2012. The new six-story building is fully air conditioned and wheelchair accessible and includes an administrative wing for two of its community partners, the Community League of the Heights (CLOTH) and the Community Healthcare Network. The new building also includes an art room, a music room, a computer lab, a gymnasium, special education classrooms, and a science class room with two demonstration rooms and a prep room. In September 2013, CLOTH and the Community Healthcare Network, plan to open a health center at the school.

NOVEMBER 2009 REVIEW: Community Health Academy of the Heights (CHAH), a still-expanding 6-12 school which opened in 2006 with 6th and 7th graders and is growing to become a 6-12 school, is developing an intimate, college-prep curriculum with an emphasis on health and community. After-school programs and internship opportunities offer students real-world experience in the health field.

Building and location: CHAH is located in a quiet area of Washington Heights, surrounded by local shops and close to public transportation. CHAH’s middle school and high school grades are in two different locations a block apart, although they plan to move together into a new building by January 2012.

Grades 6-8 are housed on 183rd street along with offices for the parent coordinator and Principal Sandra Maldonado. The five-story building is small, with a tiny cafeteria that doubles as a gym.

The high school, located on 182nd street, is in a one-floor community center that resembles a rusty, brown bomb shelter. Inside, the school occupies one long hallway. with nine classrooms, a science lab, and administrative offices.There is no auditorium, cafeteria, or gym, but students use facilities at neighboring IS 143.

On our visit we saw only the high school site.

School environment and culture: The principal said she is dedicated to creating a welcoming environment for students who get attention and support with an advisory system in which one teacher is assigned to meet regularly with ten students.During advisories, which meet twice a week, students discuss personal and academic issues, and work on community-based projects. For example, administrators told us high schools students are conducting research into the effects of obesity, administering surveys to middle school students and generating  list of neighborhood resources.

We visited a few weeks before Thanksgiving as the school was planning a "Thanksgiving Feast" for families who otherwise would not celebrate the holiday. Some students said they would not celebrate at home because it was too expensive. Maldonado, a member of the community for 30 years, sees the Thanksgiving dinner, and similar celebrations, as important yearly traditions for students. It is done in conjunction with the school's lead partners: Community League of the Heights (CLOTH) and New York-PresbyterianHospital.

Teaching and curriculum:
CHAH is developing a college-preparatory curriculum, Maldonado said. Middle school students may take honors math and science programs. The high school offers a standard array of typical academic subjects, including several science courses and an AP Spanish class.

At the time of our visit the high school was still growing and housed only 9th and 10th graders. Classroom management was a problem in several classes we visited. We observed students acting out, talking loudly, interrupting lessons, and ignoring requests from teachers to pay attention.

The school’s health theme was most apparent in a 10th-grade science class where students competed to guess the right structure for a sugar molecule. The teacher asked students, “what kinds of fats are bad for you,” and “how much sugar is too much sugar?”

We did not see the health curriculum incorporated in subjects other than science. In a subsequent email from the school's assistant principal, Adam Stevens, he wrote that the "school's community health curriculum is built into every content area."  For example, he said, 6th grade students researched ALS and participated in an annual ALS Walk, as well as interviewing people living with ALS. High school students produced a pamphlet regarding healthy things to do and places to eat in the community which was published by the Manhattan Times. Once a month there are health assemblies featuring speakers from different organizations, he said.

Partnerships and programs: With the assistance of New Visions for Public Schools and the New York City Department of Education, Community League of the Heights (CLOTH) was the lead partner in the school’s founding and maintains a close connection. CLOTH’s long history in the Washington Heights community garnered two strong partnerships with Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) and New York Presbyterian Hospital.

The CUMC partnership affords students the opportunity to meet medical students and employees to discuss internship prospects. In addition, CUMC students act as mentors, introducing CHAH students to the medical profession. New York Presbyterian Hospital employees, specifically hospital managers, teach CHAH students about the health field and workplace in general. The CUMC and New York Presbyterian Hospital partnership bring the “health and community” theme to life. CLOTH also gives CHAH students access to their Heiskell Community Technology Center, where students are trained in computer software.

Special education: CHAH features Collaborative Team Teaching (CTT) classes for special education students. Maldonado – whose expertise is in special education – purports that she does not want to distinguish special education students from the general education population. "We should value what they are doing and thinking," she said, and they should be treated with "dignity and respect."

Before becoming principal, Maldonado was the special education coordinator for District 10 and worked in the special education field for over 15 years.

English language learners:
  Students learning to speak English are placed within general education classes, but have one-on–one time with a bilingual teacher. Most of the teachers and administrators are proficient in both Spanish and English.

After school: The school hosts a number of after-school programs, clubs, and sports teams. Students attend movie nights and participate in social clubs such as Brother Sister Sol and Guy Talk/Girl Talk. There is an active student government, according to the assistant princial, which plans schoolwide activities including fund-raising, school beautification projects, spirit days, and school dances.

Family involvement: According to parent coordinator Laura Taveras, parental involvement could be stronger, but it is improving. The PTA does not have strong participation so CHAH decided to create a Parent Teacher Committee (PTC). Since the school prides itself on its community theme, the PTC works to engage the entire community, including parents and extended family members.

Admissions: Priority in admission goes to students in Washington Heights, Harlem, and Inwood. CHAH administers a written exam and interview to applicants. About 80 percent of the graduating 8th-graders return to CHAH for high school, according to the assistant principal. (Kalasia Daniels, November 2009; updated July 2010 and April 2013) [Featured picture of the new school building's ribbon cutting ceremony from a DNAinfo.com slideshow]

Community League of the Heights

Middle InsideStats

Click tabs above to see school stats

At a glance

Shared campus? No

This school is in its own building

Number of Students 600

Average Daily Attendance 87%

Uniforms? Yes

Students at this school

Asian

  
0%

Black

  
7%

Hispanic

  
92%

White

  
1%

Free Lunch

  
91%

Special ed

  
19%

English Language Learners

  
29%

INCOMING STUDENTS' PROFICIENCY: 2.23 2.60 CITYWIDE AVERAGE


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

Safety & vibe

DO STUDENTS LIKE THE SCHOOL?

How many students say their teachers inspire them to learn?

71% 64% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many students say this school offers enough programs to keep them interested?

89% 78% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

ARE KIDS NICE?

How many students complain about bullying?

45% 71% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many students say students at their school respect one another?

73% 57% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

100% 77% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

DO TEACHERS LIKE THE SCHOOL?

How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?

100% 80% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many teachers would recommend this school to other parents?

100% 79% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

ARE CLASSES BIG?

Number of students in an average english class

26 26 CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many students are chronically absent?

10% 24% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Academics

Percent of students who scored 3 or 4 on the state math exam

8% 26% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Percent of students who scored 3 or 4 on the state ela exam

12% 22% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Percent of students who scored 3 or 4 on the state science exam

62% 45% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

HS Prep

How many 8th graders pass high school regents exams?

Percent of 8th graders who take and pass the algebra regents:

5% 18% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Percent of 8th graders who take and pass a science regents:

0% 14% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How do graduates do in 9th grade?

Percent who pass all their classes freshman year:

87% 87% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Special ed & ELL

How well does this school serve students with disabilities?

Percent of self-contained students who scored 3 or 4 on the state math exam:

NA 2% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Percent of self-contained students who scored 3 or 4 on the state ELA exam:

NA 1% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Percent of ICT students who scored 3 or 4 on the state math exam:

11% 7% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Percent of ICT students who scored 3 or 4 on the state ELA exam:

4% 5% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Percent of SETSS students who scored 3 or 4 on the state math exam:

NA 9% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Percent of SETSS students who scored 3 or 4 on the state ELA exam:

NA 6% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How well does this school serve English language learners?

Percent of ell students who scored 3 or 4 on the state ELA exam:

1% 2% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Percent of former ell students who scored 3 or 4 on the state ELA exam:

17% 13% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

HS InsideStats

Click tabs above to see school stats

At a glance

Shared campus? No

This school is in its own building

Number of Students 600

Average Daily Attendance 87%

Uniforms? Yes

Metal detectors? No

Students at this school

Asian

  
0%

Black

  
7%

Hispanic

  
92%

White

  
1%

Free Lunch

  
91%

Special ed

  
19%

English Language Learners

  
29%

INCOMING STUDENTS' PROFICIENCY: 2.12 2.40 CITYWIDE AVERAGE


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

Middle school students reading at grade level:

12% 24% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Middle school students doing math at grade level:

8% 28% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Safety & vibe

ARE CLASSES BIG?

Number of students in an average english class

32 25 CITYWIDE AVERAGE

DO STUDENTS LIKE THE TEACHERS?

How many students say their teachers inspire them to learn?

71% 63% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

DO TEACHERS LIKE THE PRINCIPAL?

How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?

100% 78% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

IS THIS SCHOOL SAFE?

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

92% 82% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

 
 

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

100% 77% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

HOW IS
ATTENDANCE?

How Many Students are Chronically Absent?

32% 38% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Who graduates

Class of 2014

How many students graduated within 4 years?

62% 73% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many students graduated within 6 years?

80% 80% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Previous Years

How many students graduated within 4 years?

59% 65% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

3% 11% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many students graduated within 6 years?

NA 75% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many graduates dropped out within 4 years?

5% 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?

19%

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

15%

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

9%

Are students ready for college?

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

9% 27% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

SAT reading scores

384
418 CITYWIDE AVERAGE 497 NATIONWIDE AVERAGE

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

63% 63% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

SAT math scores

373
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?

80% 76% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Special ed & ELL

How well does this school serve students with disabilities?

How many special ed students graduated within 4 years?

50% 47% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many special ed students graduated within 6 years?

NA 54% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

92% 68% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

97% 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. Priority to continuing 8th graders
  2. Then to New York City residents who attend an information session
  3. Then to New York City residents

Source: High school directory

Community Health Academy of the Heights

Limited Unscreened

Academics

AP COURSES: English Language and Composition, Spanish Literature and Culture, Studio Art: 2-D Design, United States History

Source: High school directory

Sports/Clubs

EXTRACURRICULAR: After-school Music and Art Groups, After-school Tutoring Program, Community Service Program, EATwise, Freshman Leadership Initiative, Student Government, Swimming Club, Baseball, Basketball, Cross Country

BOYS PSAL SPORTS: Basketball, Cross Country

GIRLS PSAL SPORTS: Basketball, Cross Country

Other schools sports: Baseball, Basketball

Source: High school directory

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