Excellence Boys Uncommon Charter School

An Insideschools pick
239 PATCHEN AVENUE
BROOKLYN NY 11233 Map
Phone: (718) 638-1830
Website: Click here
Admissions: Lottery/District 16 priority
Principal: Kevin Hall/Samantha Tweedy
Neighborhood: Bedford-Stuyvesant
District: 16
Grade range: K-8
Unzoned
Charter School

What's special:

Prep-school feel, top-notch facility, and focus on character-building.

The downside:

Strict atmosphere may not be for everyone.

InsideSchools Review

Our review:

Excellence Boys is a disciplined, orderly community where young boys in ties are referred to as scholars and hard work is expected. Students have an extended day from 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., a longer school year, small class-sizes, and daily homework.

The school, part of the Uncommon Schools network, also offers after school tutoring, a Saturday Tutoring Academy, and summer remediation, according to the school’s website. With two teachers in many of the classrooms and an extensive intervention program, students receive considerable personal attention but are reminded often that the community is valued above the individual.

Building reading and math skills are at the heart of the Excellence curriculum. Every boy in kindergarten through fourth grade has at least three periods of language arts instruction and math class each day, as well as social studies and science. The middle school students have 55-minute periods each day dedicated to core subjects, including reading, writing, math problem solving, math procedures, history, and science, according to the school website.

Every minute of the day is spent in structured learning, with no play time or recess. Students receive daily physical education and study either the violin or piano. Boys spend the first few weeks of the year learning the school's rules and procedures, which include silence in the hallways, a strict uniform policy, and some classrooms with a time out corner called "the bench," where students follow posted instructions on how to calm down.

For some, the strict atmosphere is a blessing. “It seems to be working excellently with my child,” Karen Austin, a mother of an 8th grade boy who has been at the school since kindergarten, told a local news station. “The teachers are really working hard to raise a different kind of boy in our community,” she said.

The strict atmosphere does not seem to be for everyone, though. Sixty percent of middle school students say discipline at the school is unfair, and 30 percent say the teachers do not treat students with respect, according to the 2011-12 Learning Environment Survey. Half of the teachers say the school does not teach students the social and emotional skills needed for middle and high school, and 55 percent say they would want to work at another school, according to the survey.

Some parents complained the schools strict “Scoreboard Behavioral System” treats students who misbehave like prisoners, according to a local news station. Misbehaving students eat meals in a separate room, are ordered to wear a green polo shirt instead of the usual uniform, and cannot interact with the other students, according to the article.

The administration says the discipline is part of what makes the school successful. “We have a college prep school and everything we do here is about getting students ready for college,” Head of School Samantha Tweedy told the news station. “The discipline is helping students get back on track and focus on learning.” She told the local news station the behavioral program is moving in the right direction, and tweaks are being made along the way.

The school is located in Bedford-Stuyvesant, in an 1890 building that was abandoned in the 1970s after a major fire. It sat empty and decaying for decades, but was meticulously restored by Dean of the Yale School of Architecture, Robert Stern in 2006. The building is now one of the premier school facilities in the city, featuring a wood-paneled library with 10,000 books, a college-sized gym with a climbing wall and fold-out bleachers, and an auditorium with tiered seating for 500 people.

The building is so impressive, that when Chancellor Joel Klein toured it on the first day of school in September 2008, the New York Times wrote that the Brooklyn borough president, Marty Markowitz, "cornered" the chancellor and "a bit testily" asked, "Why can't our public schools have a place like this? Do you know the resources it takes for a place like this?” Maybe the difference is very high-powered, wealthy, and well-connected board of trustees the school has, as well as generous foundation support.

Grade K-8 are housed at Excellence Boys at 239 Patchen Avenue. Most students continue at Uncommon Charter High School in Crown Heights. A few go to boarding schools.

Tweedy holds a B.A. in Developmental Psychology from Duke University and a J.D. from Yale Law School. Prior to joining Excellence Boys, Ms. Tweedy was the Co-Founder and Co-Director of Excellence Girls. Prior to that, Tweedy served as the Interim Program Director of the Summer Teaching Fellows Program.

Prior to joining Excellence Boys, Elementary Principal Kevin Hall was the Assistant Principal at Harlem Link Charter School. Middle School Principal David Berlin was a Fourth Grade Teacher at PS 135 in Brooklyn.

Special Education: The school has a learning support coordinator who meets with students individually and in small groups. 

Admissions: City-wide lottery for kindergarten and fifth grade, with preference given to siblings and students from District 16. The school maintains a wait list for other grades. (Annaclaire Diianni-Miller, web reports, July 2013)

 

InsideStats

Click tabs above to see school stats

At a glance

Shared campus? No

This school is in its own building.

Number of Students 809

Average Daily Attendance 94%

Students at this school

Asian

  
2%

Black

  
88%

Hispanic

  
8%

White

  
1%

Free Lunch

  
69%

Special ed

  
15%

English Language Learners

  
2%

Safety & vibe

ARE KIDS
NICE?

How many teachers say bullying is a problem at school?

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

83% 75% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

ARE CLASSES BIG?

Number of students in an average kindergarten class

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Number of students in an average fifth grade class

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Number of students in an average middle school english class

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

DO TEACHERS LIKE THE SCHOOL?

How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?

47% 79% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many teachers would recommend this school to other parents?

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Attendance

How many students are chronically absent?

NA 22% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Academics

How many teachers say this school offers enough programs, classes and activities to keep students engaged?

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many teachers say this school does a good job teaching social-emotional skills?

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many teachers say this school does a good job teaching organizational and study skills?

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Percent of students in grades 3-8 who scored 3 or 4 on the state math exam

63% 40% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Percent of students in grades 3-8 who scored 3 or 4 on the state ela exam

43% 41% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Percent of 8th graders who scored 3 or 4 on the state science exam

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many 8th grades pass high school regents exams?

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

0% 14% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

0% 17% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Parents

Are parents involved?

How many parents responded to the school survey?

51% 59% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many parents say they attended at least one pta meeting in the last school year?

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Does the school encourage family involvement?

How many parents say they were invited to an event at the school at least 3 times in the last school year?

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Do parents like the school?

How many parents would recommend this school to other parents?

NA NA 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 6% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

NA 2% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

33% 14% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

8% 8% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

36% 15% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

0% 9% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many teachers say students with special needs are educated in the least restrictive environment appropriate?

83% 91% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many parents of students with ieps say this school offers a wide enough variety of services and activities for their children’s needs?

88% 84% 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:

0% 3% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

0% 19% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many teachers say this school ensures that ells receive the same curriculum as non-ells with appropriate suppports?

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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