Brooklyn Ascend Charter School Rockaway Campus

205 Rockaway Parkway
Phone: (718) 240-9162
Website: Click here
Admissions: Lottery. Priority to District 23.
Principal: Janna Genzlinger/Samantha Pugh
Neighborhood: Brownsville
Grade range: K-3
Charter School

What's special:

Immersion Spanish classes, high expectations for students.

The downside:

Long hours, little outdoor play.

InsideSchools Review

Our review:

Brooklyn Ascend Charter School, housed in a new building, adheres to a strict “no excuses” regimen. After opening in 2008 with Kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd grade, the school plans to add a grade per year until it serves grades K-12. [The middle school grades are housed at 123 E. 98th Street, Bklyn 11212]

Each morning, children shake hands firmly with the school’s director as they enter the building, look him in the eye and say "good morning" with a loud, confident voice. This ritual is followed by a silent breakfast where scholars eat together. Jana Reed, Chief Operating Officer of Ascend Learning, explained this as a time for students to “regroup.”

Students wear a uniform of navy slacks or skirt, white polo shirt, navy sweater and black shoes. In August, new students attend a week-long orientation to learn the rules and expectations, acronyms and procedures. 

The day started strong with focused scholars sitting silently and participating eagerly in class, but by lunch attention in the classrooms was waning. More students were out of their seats than we saw earlier in the morning. Staff expressed concerns about the long school day and the large class sizes (25-30 students). One faculty member commented, "Other SABIS schools [days] are not as long. It's too much."

SABIS is the curriculum used by Ascend schools. It is a highly structured curriculum that covers a broad range of subjects which lead step-by-step from kindergarten to 12th grade with the goal of preparing children to take four to five Advanced Placement classes. All students take a period per day of immersion Spanish, where the entire class is taught in the language. Each day, students also have 20 minutes of guided reading.  In 4th grade students, called scholars here, read passages and answer questions about them. "We do not teach to the test," explained Reed. "But we do identify where scholars struggle and hone in on those skills."

Though the school boasts a rooftop playground, we were told that scholars were not using the outside play space. Principal Brandon Sorlie said that this is likely because teachers must request to go outside for recess. "Not many go. Teachers are uncomfortable with the time it takes to get students ready to go, get them up there, and bring them back.” Instead, there is a 20 minute recess each day where students can play games or draw quietly in the classroom.

Morning tutoring help is available from 7:15 to 7:30 a.m. and scholars can play soccer afterschool two days a week.

Special education: A SETSS teacher pulls out students for math and reading help in small groups.

Admissions: There is a lottery in April.  Students in District 18 and siblings of students already enrolled have priority.  The waitlist in 2011 had 1250 students. (Aryn Bloodworth, February 2011)


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