Brownsville Ascend Charter School
BROOKLYN NY 11212 Map
Brownsville Ascend Charter School
Ascend Learning is a growing charter network based in central Brooklyn that primarily serves students from low-income backgrounds in poorly performing districts. The first Ascend school opened in 2008 with a strict "no excuses" philosophy but in 2012 the network shifted to a Responsive Classroom model and made significant changes to both culture and curriculum. Responsive Classroom is designed to develop the social and emotional capacities of children and includes rituals such as morning meetings in each classroom and regular goal-setting activities.
Network CEO Steven Wilson says there has been a "marked change in the demeanor and joyfulness of students and of classrooms" since the adoption of Responsive Classroom. Rates of suspension and office referrals at Brooklyn Ascend (the network's flagship school) have since fallen by 90 percent, Wilson said.
Teachers at some Ascend schools gave poor ratings on the 2013-2014 School Survey. At Brownsville Ascend, just 37% of teachers felt there were enough programs to keep students engaged but Wilson believes that the culture and curriculum changes the network has made will address those concerns.
All Ascend schools have their own buildings, avoiding the challenges that can arise in shared space, and all feature the same color scheme and general atmosphere. Every school has outdoor space, either a yard or rooftop. Brownsville Ascend, the second Ascend Learning school, opened as an elementary school in 2009 and in 2014 expanded to include a middle school. It is located in the former Loew's Pitkin Theatre, which was completely refitted to accommodate the schools. The newest Ascend school, Central Brooklyn, is also housed in the building.
After a sharp decline in test scores following the introduction of Common Core Standards in 2013, the network designed its own curriculum to be fully aligned with the standards. The network is "wildly enthusiastic" about Common Core, Wilson said.
Ascend aims to provide a liberal arts education to all students. Elementary students participate in "literature circle", where teachers use a college-style seminar to discuss themes of the books that students are reading. Books are selected because they present moral and ethical dilemmas and the goal is to enable students to articulate themes in their own voice and discuss them with classmates.
From 5th grade on, students participate in a humanities, writing and arts program twice daily. All students get art, music, physical education and Spanish instruction. Spanish classes are taught entirely in Spanish with three lessons per week. Native Spanish speakers focus on grammar and literature.
Ascend's hours are longer than the average school day. Tutoring is offered daily from 4-4:45 pm for students who need more time on task or support in a small group setting.
Parent Teacher conferences are held three times a year and teachers are expected to have frequent phone contact with all families. Wilson says that parental involvement "is a point of real pride that schools and principals have developed with families."
The first Ascend high school opens in 2015 in the Loew's Pitkin Theatre building with Brownsville and Central Brooklyn Ascend schools. Lottery preference for the high school goes to current students, their siblings and District 23 students.
Special education: Ascend has integrated co-teaching classes in every grade. Wilson said specialists are available to students based on the requirements outlined in their Individualized Education Programme. Every Ascend school has counselors and social workers.
Admissions: Admission is by lottery. Preference is given to students in the district and siblings of current students. New students are accepted at all grades to fill seats. (Ella Colley, phone interview, October 2014)
At a glance
Number of Students 787
Average Daily Attendance 95%
Safety & vibe
How many teachers say bullying is a problem at school?27% 22% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
How many teachers say order and discipline are maintained in the school?67% 77% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
ARE CLASSES BIG?
Number of students in an average kindergarten classNA 23 CITYWIDE AVERAGE
Number of students in an average fifth grade classNA 26 CITYWIDE AVERAGE
Number of students in an average middle school english classNA 26 CITYWIDE AVERAGE
DO TEACHERS LIKE THE SCHOOL?
How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?96% 80% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
How many teachers would recommend this school to other parents?57% 80% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
How many students are chronically absent?13% 23% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
Percent of students in grades 3-8 who scored 3 or 4 on the state math exam
Percent of students in grades 3-8 who scored 3 or 4 on the state ela exam
Percent of 4th graders who scored 3 or 4 on the state science exam
Percent of 8th graders who scored 3 or 4 on the state science exam
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?55% 71% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
Do parents like the school?
How many parents would recommend this school to other parents?96% 93% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
Special ed & ELL
How well does this school serve students with disabilities?
This school does not offer self-contained classes.
Percent of self-contained students who scored 3 or 4 on the state math exam:NA 3% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
Percent of self-contained students who scored 3 or 4 on the state ELA exam:NA 1% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
This school does not offer team teaching (ict).
Percent of ICT students who scored 3 or 4 on the state math exam:NA 13% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
Percent of ICT students who scored 3 or 4 on the state ELA exam:NA 7% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
This school offers SETSS.
Percent of SETSS students who scored 3 or 4 on the state math exam:0% 14% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
Percent of SETSS students who scored 3 or 4 on the state ELA exam:0% 7% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
How many parents say students with disabilities are included in all activities?
How many teachers say students with special needs are educated in the least restrictive environment appropriate?
How many parents of students with ieps say this school offers a wide enough variety of services and activities for their children’s needs?