Preparatory Academy for Writers: A College Board School

143-10 SPRINGFIELD BOULEVARD
QUEENS NY 11413 Map
Phone: (718) 949-8405
Website: Click here
Principal: Charles Anderson
Neighborhood: Springfield Gardens
District: 29
Grade range: 6-12
Parent Coordinator: Tanya Gilliard
Communications

Buses: Q3, Q77, Q85

What's special:

School back by the College Board nurtures writing.

The downside:

Shared building often means loud, chaotic hallways; small size means fewer electives.

InsideSchools Review

Our review:

If Preparatory Academy for Writers were a novel, a reader might say the first chapter was full of grand ambition thwarted by human imperfection. Chapter 2, however, has struck a more promising note. This young academy is still a work in progress, but students and teachers now sense what one educator called “a complete 180-degree turnaround” from the school’s stumbling start.

 The positive changes come largely thanks to a new character: Principal Charles Anderson. Before Anderson took over in September 2009, the school “was not functioning as well as it could,” he admits, and it had even lost standing as a College Board school. Anderson, formerly an English teacher, instituted a journalism class, a literary magazine and a fashion magazine and reinforced the idea that Prep Academy is a school for writers. Now, a journal exercise begins every class, even math. (One 6th-grade math teacher told students, “Tell me everything you know about circles.”)

 Prep Academy for Writers (PAW) emphasizes a core curriculum designed to prepare students for college, but Anderson shifted away from a traditional classroom structure. Classes now often break up into small groups of students working in teams on rotating assignments. Talkative classes can appear disorganized, but teachers claim the noise is evidence of energetic discussion, not a lack of discipline and say that more control in the classroom has helped faculty regain students’ respect. [The photo at the left, from the website of the United Federation of Teachers, shows an anti-bullying campaign organized by students and staff.]

 Parents we spoke to liked the school’s new direction and order, and several said educators were accessible. “Whenever I have issues, I can set up a meeting at the drop of a dime,” said the mother of an 8th grader.

 PAW is on the first floor of a large 1960s-era Springfield Gardens Educational Campus with three other small high schools.  All students must go through metal detectors when they enter the building. Students from other high schools loudly pass by PAW’s first-floor classrooms on their way to gym, a chronic irritation that Anderson has been unable to silence.

 Students can join campuswide sports teams and other after-school programs, but Prep Academy’s small size (just 75 students per grade) keeps electives limited. Still, extracurricular and daily “enrichment” courses exist, including an improv comedy class that attracted media attention. Anderson created a student government, including a judiciary branch that settles student disputes or hears disciplinary appeals.

 Students get regular evaluations, and Anderson said faculty are charting student achievement to look for problems. “We’ve built in systems that show actual growth or lack of growth,” Anderson said. PAW’s younger students have responded particularly well to the changes: Anderson said 9th graders have outscored seniors on the PSAT test. Today, PAW’s back as a College Board institution. “It means that we have an expectation that all of our students will be college-ready,” Anderson explained.

 Special education: The school has self-contained special ed classes for 6th, 7th and 8th grades. Ninth grade offers one CCT class, and Anderson said he plans to add more in the upper grades.

 Admission: The school accepts 75 students per grade. Admission is unscreened for both the middle school and high school. Preference is given to District 29 families for admission to 6th grade. Students in the middle school are guaranteed a seat in the high school if they want to stay. In 2010, half the school’s 8th graders stayed for 9th  grade. (Skip Card, February 2011)

 

Middle InsideStats

Click tabs above to see school stats

At a glance

Shared campus? Yes

Springfield Gardens Educational Campus

Number of Students 522

Average Daily Attendance 94%

Uniforms? Yes

Students at this school

Asian

  
4%

Black

  
84%

Hispanic

  
8%

White

  
2%

Free Lunch

  
72%

Special ed

  
15%

English Language Learners

  
1%

INCOMING STUDENTS' PROFICIENCY: 2.67 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?

67% 64% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

88% 78% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

ARE KIDS NICE?

How many students complain about bullying?

58% 71% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

66% 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

31 26 CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many students are chronically absent?

6% 24% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Academics

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

31% 26% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

34% 22% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

0% 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:

41% 18% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

67% 14% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How do graduates do in 9th grade?

Percent who pass all their classes freshman year:

88% 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:

15% 7% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

8% 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:

NA 2% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

NA 13% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

HS InsideStats

Click tabs above to see school stats

At a glance

Shared campus? Yes

Springfield Gardens Educational Campus

Number of Students 522

Average Daily Attendance 94%

Uniforms? Yes

Metal detectors? Yes

Students at this school

Asian

  
4%

Black

  
84%

Hispanic

  
8%

White

  
2%

Free Lunch

  
72%

Special ed

  
15%

English Language Learners

  
1%

INCOMING STUDENTS' PROFICIENCY: 2.43 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:

34% 24% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Middle school students doing math at grade level:

31% 28% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Safety & vibe

ARE CLASSES BIG?

Number of students in an average english class

31 25 CITYWIDE AVERAGE

DO STUDENTS LIKE THE TEACHERS?

How many students say their teachers inspire them to learn?

67% 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?

82% 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?

14% 38% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Who graduates

Class of 2014

How many students graduated within 4 years?

81% 73% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many students graduated within 6 years?

83% 80% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Previous Years

How many students graduated within 4 years?

80% 65% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

7% 11% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many students graduated within 6 years?

76% 75% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many graduates dropped out within 4 years?

11% 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?

6%

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

20%

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

46%

Are students ready for college?

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

31% 27% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

SAT reading scores

424
418 CITYWIDE AVERAGE 497 NATIONWIDE AVERAGE

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

66% 63% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

SAT math scores

406
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?

75% 76% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Special ed & ELL

How well does this school serve students with disabilities?

How many special ed students graduated within 4 years?

NA 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?

71% 68% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

100% 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

Preparatory Academy for Writers

Limited Unscreened

Academics

AP COURSES: Biology, Calculus AB, English Language and Composition, English Literature and Composition, Environmental Science, European History, United States History

Source: High school directory

Sports/Clubs

EXTRACURRICULAR: Journalism, Dance, Drama, Intramural Athletics, Literary Magazine, Student Government, Student Leadership

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

GIRLS PSAL SPORTS: Basketball & JV Basketball, Indoor Track, Outdoor Track, Soccer, Softball, Tennis, Volleyball, Wrestling

Source: High school directory

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