Essex Street Academy

350 GRAND STREET
MANHATTAN NY 10002 Map
Phone: (212) 475-4773
Website: Click here
Admissions: Manhattan priority
Principal: Erin Carstensen
Neighborhood: Lower East Side/ Chinatown
District: 2
Grade range: 9-12
Parent Coordinator: Gabriel Fermin
Humanities & Interdisciplinary

Buses: B39, M103, M14A, M14D, M15, M15-SBS, M21, M22, M9

What's special:

Offbeat courses, relaxed environment, college advisory.

The downside:

Limited course offerings

InsideSchools Review

Our review:

Essex Street Academy is a small, artsy school with a progressive approach to education. Its small class sizes, untraditional courses and supportive staff keep students engaged in classes, involved in extracurricular activities, and for the most part, on track for college.

Essex is part of the Coalition of Essential Schools (CES) a national network of schools founded by Theodore Sizer, who believed that small schools that concentrate on teaching a few subjects well are more effective than large schools that teach a wide array of subjects.

“Our strength is our school culture and how we take care of our students,” said Principal Erin Carstensen.  A member of the school’s founding faculty, Carstensen was a teacher and assistant principal at the school before taking the helm in June, 2010.

The vibe throughout the school is calm and informal.  During free periods, seniors can work on college applications in the principal’s office, a comfy space decorated with wood paneling and a faux fireplace.  In classes, teachers deliver lessons in conversational tones; students are at ease speaking up in class and chatting with teachers in the hallways.

Many Essex students begin high school performing below grade level.  To move kids forward, class sizes are kept small and serve multiple grades, typically combining students in grades 9 with 10 and grades 11 with 12.  Daily, small-group advisories give all students a forum to address social and academic issues.

Most classes are structured around themes. For instance, social studies offerings include Conflict and Religion, U.S. in the Cold War, and Understanding the Holocaust.  Some have unconventional names like Write for Your Life, Drosophilia Love (intro to genetics) and the senior chemistry class, Fun with Fleshy Fruit.  Math classes are more traditional and run from algebra through calculus.

Lessons are designed to get students to be more reflective and independent in their work.  In the Fleshy Fruit class, students wrap up a two-week study of enzymes by designing and conducting experiments that test enzyme reactions and recording their findings in a research paper.  In literature class, students examine parallelism in writing, the use of similar word patterns to express similar ideas, while reading James McBride’s, The Color of Water.

Essex received a state waiver from administering all but the English Regents exam.  In place of high-stakes exams, the teachers use portfolio-based assessments, which require students to demonstrate mastery of their coursework though oral and written presentations.

Like most small schools, Essex’s course offerings are limited.  There are no Advanced Placement exams, but in foreign languages, students have a choice of studying Spanish, French or Portuguese.  Studio art and music are offered to students in all grades. Theater is offered to 11th and 12th graders only.

Located on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, Essex is one of five small high schools housed in the Seward Park Educational Complex.

The school invests a lot in its college office, funding two counselors, onsite SAT courses and overnight trips to visit college campuses.  Roughly 95 percent of graduates from the class of 2011 were accepted to two- or four-year colleges, including Hamilton, Hobart and William Smith, Ithaca, Smith, Syracuse and the University of Rochester.

Special education: Roughly 23 percent of students have special needs.  Essex has ICT (Integrated Collaborative Teaching) classes in math and literature, each lead by two teachers.  In science and history classes, special education teachers and para-professionals “push in” support services.  Literacy support classes are offered to struggling readers.

After school:  There’s a range of after school clubs and activities including film, fitness, mock trial, newspaper, student government, community service and theater.  A full list is available on the school’s website.  Students can apply to ESA Abroad, the school’s summer travel program, which funds overseas trips for select students.  Past trips have been to Peru, Brazil and Japan.  (Laura Zingmond, October, 2011)

 

InsideStats

Click tabs above to see school stats

At a glance

Shared campus? Yes

Seward Park Educational Campus

Number of Students 349

Average Daily Attendance 87%

Uniforms? No

Metal detectors? No

Students at this school

Asian

  
5%

Black

  
32%

Hispanic

  
51%

White

  
7%

Free Lunch

  
72%

Special ed

  
22%

English Language Learners

  
4%

INCOMING STUDENTS' PROFICIENCY: 2.36 2.40 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

14 25 CITYWIDE AVERAGE

DO STUDENTS LIKE THE TEACHERS?

How many students say their teachers inspire them to learn?

79% 63% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

DO TEACHERS LIKE THE PRINCIPAL?

How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?

100% 78% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

IS THIS SCHOOL SAFE?

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

96% 82% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

 
 

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

96% 77% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

HOW IS
ATTENDANCE?

How Many Students are Chronically Absent?

32% 38% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Who graduates

Class of 2014

How many students graduated within 4 years?

71% 73% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many students graduated within 6 years?

78% 80% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Previous Years

How many students graduated within 4 years?

65% 65% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

0% 11% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many students graduated within 6 years?

76% 75% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many graduates dropped out within 4 years?

12% 10% 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?

3%

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

14%

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

3%

Are students ready for college?

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

38% 27% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

SAT reading scores

413
418 CITYWIDE AVERAGE 497 NATIONWIDE AVERAGE

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

58% 63% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

SAT math scores

387
426 CITYWIDE AVERAGE 513 NATIONWIDE AVERAGE

Is the guidance counseling helpful?

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

85% 76% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Special ed & ELL

How well does this school serve students with disabilities?

How many special ed students graduated within 4 years?

50% 47% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many special ed students graduated within 6 years?

50% 54% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

100% 68% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

100% 89% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How well does this school serve English language learners?

How many English language learners graduated within 4 years?

37% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many English language learners graduated within 6 years?

56% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Programs and Admissions

School admission priorities:

  1. Priority to New York City residents who attend an information session
  2. Then to New York City residents

Source: High school directory

Essex Street Academy

Limited Unscreened

Academics

AP COURSES: Spanish Language and Culture

Source: High school directory

Sports/Clubs

EXTRACURRICULAR: After-school and Saturday Program: Homework help in every subject provided by teachers three days a week until 5:00 PM; Other opportunities include: Capoeira, Community Service, Student Newpaper, Fitness, Swimming, Music, Big Sib Mentoring Program, Cheerleading Team, Mock Trial, Step Team, Student Government, Theater, Weight Room, Yearbook, Yoga

BOYS PSAL SPORTS: Baseball, Basketball, Bowling, Volleyball

GIRLS PSAL SPORTS: Basketball, Bowling, Tennis, Volleyball

Other schools sports: Boys Intramural Basketball Team

Source: High school directory

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