47 The American Sign Language and English Secondary School

223 EAST 23 STREET
MANHATTAN NY 10010 Map
Phone: (917) 326-6668
Website: Click here
Admissions: Open to deaf students, children of deaf parents, and non deaf students
Principal: Watfa Shama
Neighborhood: Gramercy Park
District: 2
Grade range: 9-12
Parent Coordinator: Delta Calderon
Humanities & Interdisciplinary
Wheelchair Accessible

Buses: M101, M102, M14A, M14D, M15, M15-SBS, M2, M23, M34A-SBS, M5, M9

What's special:

Deaf and hearing students learn sign language

The downside:

Below average graduation rate

InsideSchools Review

Our review:

At The American Sign Language (ASL) and English Secondary School, hearing and deaf students learn alongside each other in classes staffed with professional sign interpreters. The school draws students come from all over the city, including Staten Island and Far Rockaway. Roughly 25 percent of the students are deaf or hard-of-hearing and most others are hearing kids with deaf siblings or parents. The school also attracts hearing students interested in learning sign language.

The school is housed in a 1920s-era building it shares with the American Sign Language and English Lower School, which has a separate administration and teaching staff. The high school’s facilities include large classrooms, a gym and weight room, computer lab, renovated science lab and a cozy library with couches and colorful rugs.

Students enjoy a calm and close-knit environment that embraces deaf culture, which Principal Wafta Shama describes as a culture of communication. “Hand gestures, feet stomping and touching people to get their attention are essential. In ASL it’s not rude to point,”said Shama.

About 25 percent of the teachers are deaf and roughly half of the staff knows sign language. Students and staff are given sign names by their deaf peers. “Only a deaf person can give you a sign name and it’s based on a personal trait,” said Shama whose sign name is three fingers forming a “W” swiped across the forehead. It represents leadership.

Parents and students feel welcome and safe in the school and give high marks to teachers based on their responses to the 2011-12 Learning Environment Survey (LES). Teachers, however, offer a more mixed review on the LES, with at least a third responding that the school does not set high enough standards for student learning or prepares students to achieve goals after graduation. The school’s graduation rate is below the citywide average.

Students have daily instruction in American Sign Language (ASL) and are grouped according to skill level. Teachers encourage students to practice their signing by scheduling “voice off” days where kids are expected to sign in all their classes. Students also hone their skills in the ASL computer lab where they prepare video presentations and record signing exercises for teachers to review.  

All other courses are taught in English with the assistance of sign language interpreters. Class sizes are capped at 18 so students have plenty of open space to communicate with each other. One downside to the school’s size is its limited selection of courses. It does not offer chemistry or physics, and trigonometry is the highest level of math taught. For more advanced instruction, students may take classes at Baruch College and La Guardia Community College.

Elective classes include art, creative writing, drumming, film and food nutrition. African Dance is offered through a program sponsored by the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Students also serve as reading and ASL buddies with students in the lower school. Tenth-graders and advanced 9th-grade students take a course in writing and reading sponsored by Baruch College.

The school fields a PSAL team in boys basketball and offers intra-mural options in basketball, volleyball, track and cross-country. Students can participate in after-school clubs such as knitting, academic bowl, chess, and comic books.

Special education: There are self-contained and ICT (Integrated Collaborative Teaching) classes. The school has classes for deaf students with severe disabilities.

College: Each year some graduates attend Gallaudet University, the only college in the world designed to serve deaf and hard-of-hearing students. Other popular choices include La Guardia Community College which has a sign language interpretation program, SUNY at Stony Brook and Johnson & Wales University in Rhode Island.

Admissions: Priority to American Sign Language & English Lower School Students and then to students citywide. Admissions is based on an interview, review of a writing sample as well as the applicant’s grades, test scores and attendance. (Laura Zingmond, November 2012)

InsideStats

Click tabs above to see school stats

At a glance

Shared campus? Yes

This school shares the building with its Lower School

Number of Students 184

Average Daily Attendance 88%

Uniforms? No

Metal detectors? No

Students at this school

Asian

  
3%

Black

  
27%

Hispanic

  
65%

White

  
4%

Free Lunch

  
83%

Special ed

  
32%

English Language Learners

  
7%

INCOMING STUDENTS' PROFICIENCY: 2.24 2.80 CITYWIDE AVERAGE


1 = Far below grade level 2 = Below grade level 3 = At grade level 4 = Above grade level

Safety & vibe

ARE CLASSES BIG?

Number of students in an average english class

15 25 CITYWIDE AVERAGE

DO STUDENTS LIKE THE TEACHERS?

How many students say their teachers inspire them to learn?

51% 63% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

DO TEACHERS LIKE THE PRINCIPAL?

How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?

35% 78% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

IS THIS SCHOOL SAFE?

How many students say they feel safe in hallways, bathrooms and locker rooms?

90% 82% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

 
 

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

76% 77% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

HOW IS
ATTENDANCE?

How Many Students are Chronically Absent?

37% 38% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Who graduates

Class of 2013

How many students graduated within 4 years?

71% 70% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many students graduated within 6 years?

83% 78% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Previous Years

How many students graduated within 4 years?

47% 66% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

7% 12% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many students graduated within 6 years?

76% 75% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many graduates dropped out within 4 years?

5% 11% 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?

0%

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

45%

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

0%

Are students ready for college?

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

11% 27% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

SAT reading scores

422
414 CITYWIDE AVERAGE 496 NATIONWIDE AVERAGE

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

48% 62% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

SAT math scores

389
425 CITYWIDE AVERAGE 514 NATIONWIDE AVERAGE

Is the guidance counseling helpful?

How many students say that this school provides helpful counseling on college or job-seeking?

73% 76% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Special ed & ELL

How well does this school serve students with disabilities?

How many special ed students graduated within 4 years?

60% 45% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many special ed students graduated within 6 years?

NA 53% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many students with disabilities spend most of the day with non-disabled peers?

84% 68% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

88% 89% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How well does this school serve English language learners?

How many English language learners graduated within 4 years?

40% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many English language learners graduated within 6 years?

58% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Programs and Admissions

School admission priorities:

  1. Priority to “47” American Sign Language & English Lower School students
  2. Then to New York City residents who know or are interested in learning American Sign Language

Source: High school directory

English/American Sign Language Dual Language Environment

Screened

Selection Criteria

  • English (75-100) , Math (75-100) , Science (75-100) , Social Studies (75-100)
  • Math Levels: Levels 2-4 ; English Language Arts Levels: Levels 2-4

There may be additional selection criteria, see the High School Directory for more information

Academics

Source: High school directory

Sports/Clubs

EXTRACURRICULAR: Academic Bowl, ACT and SAT Test Preparation, After-school Mentoring and Tutoring, American Sign Language (ASL), Artist-in-Residence from Children's Museum of the Arts, Arts and Crafts, Boys Club, Chess, Comic Books, Community and Museum Internships, Computer-Photoshop, Conflict Resolution, Dance, Drama, Girls Club, Knitting, Mock Debates, One-on-one tutoring in all subjects, Peer Mediation, Regents Test Preparation, School Newspaper (in print and video), Student Council, Student Discussion Boards, Video Production and Editing, Visits to American Sign Language (ASL) Interpreted Broadway shows, Weight Room, Yearbook

BOYS PSAL SPORTS: Basketball

Other schools sports: Basketball, Cross Country, Track, Volleyball

Source: High school directory

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