I.S. 187 The Christa McAuliffe School

An Insideschools pick
An Insideschools pick for Special Education
1171 65 STREET
BROOKLYN NY 11219 Map
Phone: (718) 236-3394
Website: Click here
Admissions: selective
Principal: Justin Berman
Neighborhood: Borough Park
District: 20
Grade range: 6-8
Parent Coordinator: CARLA PALUMBO
Unzoned
Screened

What's special:

Academies geared to student interests, strong special education program

The downside:

Confusing admissions policy, no full gym

InsideSchools Review

Our review:

Some of Brooklyn's brightest middle-school students fill three academies at IS 87 Christa McAuliffe. McAuliffe provides these children, many of whom go on to selective high schools, with a demanding academic program but also offers extracurricular activities, trips and electives to try to relieve the stress and keep students happy.

Students select an academy when they apply to the school in 5th grade and feel a sense of identification with it. Children in all three academies — Scientific Research, Humanities, and Business and Law — take the core academic subjects but the approach to the material varies among them. Students in the Humanities track, for example, take a more visual approach to material, incorporating artwork in their learning. Most classes stress projects and small group work.

Every academy has its own special classes, lunch period and three bands (one for each grade) as well as its own section of the building. Student artwork and murals decorate nearly every square-inch of plaster in the hallways and stairwells. Located in a building constructed as an elementary school, McAuliffe lacks a full-size gymnasium.

The school has a strong special education program, including self-contained classes for students with cognitive delays. These students run a cafe in the school that teachers can order food from and that caters some school events. They prepare the food, learn about money and also learn how to operate appliances. Children with disabilities in Integrated Co-Teaching classes vastly outperform those in other schools on standardized tests.

McAuliffe has developed its own English curriculum aligned with the Common Core. Students read literature, including The Crucible in 7th grade and To Kill a Mockingbird in 8th. In a discussion arising from To Kill a Mockingbird, the class considered what factors determine whether or not a person takes a principled stand in the face of evil, such as a lynching. As students grappled with the issue, the teacher repeatedly challenged them to examine their responses more deeply.

McAuliffe uses a Pearson math program. Some, but not all, students take the algebra Regents in 8th grade. Eighth-graders can take a Spanish proficiency test.

The school has moved away from offering classes mixing various science disciplines in all grades and now offers Earth science in 6th grade, life science in 7th and physical science in 8th. Unlike many high-performing middle schools, McAuliffe does not offer a science Regents.

Teachers and the administration are trying out various technologies, including flipped classrooms where students learn a skill at home and then discuss it at school, rather than learning the lesson in class and answering questions about it at home. "Questions are key to what we do," says Principal Justin Berman. In some classes, children do an exercise online early in the evening, allowing the teacher to adjust the next day's lesson accordingly.

One of the school's biggest challenges, Berman says, is finding time for the academy electives, such as additional lab time, law and sports medicine, as well as art and music. The electives, such as a finance class where students plan a new business, clearly pique their interest. Some students in Scientific Research participate in a medical research program run in conjunction with the New York Academy of Medicine and Maimonides Medical Center.

McAuliffe brings in Holocaust survivors as part of its program to educate its students, most of whom are Asian, about the Holocaust. "They relate it to their own culture and background. It gives them a greater understanding of the world they live in," says Sarah Schmerler, a science teacher who plays a key role in the effort.

Many children attend private classes after school and on weekends. In light of this, McAuliffe tries to expose students to aspects of life outside the classroom with overnight trips and other activities. "Our kids are really good in academics but that’s only part of the middle school experience," Berman says.

McAuliffe sends a large number of students to specialized high schools, particularly Brooklyn Tech and Stuyvesant. In 2013, all but three 8th-graders took the test for those schools, and 90 percent got admitted to at least one, with about one-third accepted at Stuyvesant.

Special education: With an increasing number of students with special needs, McAuliffe offers ICT classes and self-contained special education classes in every grade.

Admissions: Selective. The school is open to residents in District 20, students currently attending a District 20 elementary school, or students outside the district whose zoned middle school is in District 20. Berman says the only way to not be admitted to McAuliffe is not to apply and that the Office of Student Enrollment — not staff at McAuliffe — determines who gets in. The reality, though, is that there are far more qualified applicants than available seats, and most slots go to high-achieving students. Admission is determined by a combination of factors making up a "composite score". The final 4th grade report card counts for 45 percent, state tests 45 percent, attendance five percent and punctuality five percent. (Gail Robinson, March 2014; admissions updated January 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 999

Average Daily Attendance 98%

Uniforms? NA

Students at this school

Asian

  
69%

Black

  
1%

Hispanic

  
6%

White

  
24%

Free Lunch

  
62%

Special ed

  
9%

English Language Learners

  
2%

INCOMING STUDENTS' PROFICIENCY: NA 2.59 CITYWIDE AVERAGE


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

Safety & vibe

DO STUDENTS LIKE THE SCHOOL?

How many students say their teachers inspire them to learn?

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many students say this school offers enough programs to keep them interested?

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

ARE KIDS NICE?

How many students complain about bullying?

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many students say students at their school respect one another?

87% 49% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

100% 77% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

DO TEACHERS LIKE THE SCHOOL?

How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?

93% 80% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many teachers would recommend this school to other parents?

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

ARE CLASSES BIG?

Number of students in an average english class

NA 26 CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many students are chronically absent?

2% 23% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Academics

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

97% 29% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Percent of students who scored 3 or 4 on the state ela exam

96% hi 32% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

HS Prep

How many 8th graders pass high school regents exams?

Percent of 8th graders who take and pass the algebra regents:

55% 12% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Percent of 8th graders who take and pass a science regents:

0% 17% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How do graduates do in 9th grade?

Percent who pass all their classes freshman year:

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:

40% 3% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Percent of self-contained students who scored 3 or 4 on the state ELA exam:

17% 2% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

56% 9% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

24% 7% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

NA 13% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

NA 9% 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% 2% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

55% 18% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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