Academy of the City Charter School

An Insideschools pick
31-29 60 STREET
QUEENS NY 11377 Map
Phone: (718) 487-9857
Website: Click here
Admissions: Lottery/District 30 priority
Principal: Richard Lee
Neighborhood: Woodside
District: 30
Grade range: K-5
Parent Coordinator: Noel Peguero
Unzoned
Charter School

What's special:

Diverse, progressive community

The downside:

Long waitlist to get in, some parents difficult to reach

InsideSchools Review

Our review:

The Academy of the City Charter School (AoC)  is small school that espouses a more progressive approach than is typical of charter schools and is supportive of its racially and economically diverse  District 30 community.

“It’s a progressive, hands-on experiential model,” says founding principal Richard Lee “We know the children very well, their needs and wants.”

It’s a “noisy, bustling place,” but it’s healthy noise, he says, because it shows that children are learning actively and collaboratively.

The art teacher works with classroom teachers to tie projects into what students are learning in academic subjects. In social studies, for example, 5th-graders studying prehistoric man created cave drawings and posted them on a hallway ceiling.

AoC focuses its curriculum on reading and writing, adhering to the Teachers College Reading and Writing program. Students read everywhere—sprawled out on the floor, listening and reading along to a story on an iPad, reading aloud to one another, or in a small group led by the teacher. But, because the school’s annual state reading scores lag below the city average, AoC is broadening its approach. In addition to independently reading lots of fiction and nonfiction books, students also read shorter book excerpts in an anthology, and learn to answer questions based on the text, similar to what they are expected to do on the state exams.

There are two teachers in all the kindergarten and 1st-grade classrooms, which allows them to work with students at different levels. The principal, formerly an elementary school teacher at Bank Street, also teaches, leading a book club of 1st-graders. Sometimes the books chosen follow student interest and lead to experiments. After reading a book about icicles, students did an experiment to demonstrate how water expands when ice melts.

In one classroom, in addition to writing opinion pieces, children enjoyed playing a game, which reinforced the differences between fact and opinion, getting an opportunity to stand up and read aloud.

The school is orderly and teachers have a nice way with the students. AoC has developed a Peace Curriculum to teach its students to accept and embrace their differences, resolve conflicts, and work together. When two girls in one classroom had a little tussle about sharing materials, their classmates were quick to respond to a gentle reminder from the teacher about how to cooperate. The Peace Curriculum is integrated into all subjects and is reinforced by small group work with the school guidance counselor.

The many immigrant students come from Spanish-speaking regions such as Mexico and Central America as well as Nepal and Tibet. They get extra support in small groups from ESL teachers. Students are encouraged to express themselves in weekly assembly performances. The Spanish-speaking parent coordinator makes home visits to encourage parent participation as some families can be hard to reach. Parents volunteer in the library and in the cafeteria.

Like many charter schools, AoC offers a longer school day than district schools, running from 8 am to 4 pm. The long day is broken up by an active recess time, and a rest period for kindergartners. It also has a longer school year, opening eight days before the Department of Education schools. There is no busing before DOE schools open so this means some students miss school, contributing to the higher-than-city-average absenteeism rate.

Students participate in clubs one afternoon a week, such as yoga, music, gardening, LEGO, dance and cooking. Instrumental and choral music lessons are offered twice a week; Spanish is taught to 3rd- through 5th-graders.

The school offers its own after-school program from 4 to 6 pm with a sliding scale fee; busing is also provided to the more centrally located Boys and Girls Club in Astoria.

SPECIAL EDUCATION: Academy of the City offers SETSS (special education teachers support services) both in and out of the classroom in small groups.

ADMISSIONS: Lottery. Preference given to siblings of current students and District 30. In 2015 there were 1,100 applications for 100 seats and the school has a long waitlist. (Pamela Wheaton, December 2015)

InsideStats

Click tabs above to see school stats

At a glance

Shared campus? No

This school is in its own building.

Number of Students 405

Average Daily Attendance 95%

Students at this school

Asian

  
21%

Black

  
12%

Hispanic

  
51%

White

  
14%

Free Lunch

  
73%

Special ed

  
11%

English Language Learners

  
10%

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?

89% 81% 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

DO TEACHERS LIKE THE SCHOOL?

How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?

82% 80% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many teachers would recommend this school to other parents?

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Attendance

How many students are chronically absent?

NA 23% 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 3rd, 4th & 5th graders who scored 3 or 4 on the state math exam

55% 41% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Percent of 3rd, 4th & 5th graders who scored 3 or 4 on the state ela exam

48% 40% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Parents

Are parents involved?

How many parents responded to the school survey?

67% 64% 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 8% 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:

NA 19% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

NA 9% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

46% 17% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

11% 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?

94% 93% 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?

93% 86% 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% 6% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

0% 32% 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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