Midwood High School

An Insideschools pick
2839 BEDFORD AVENUE
BROOKLYN NY 11210 Map
Phone: (718) 724-8500
Website: Click here
Admissions: neighborhood school/selective
Principal: Michael Mcdonnell
Neighborhood: Midwood
District: 22
Grade range: 9-12
Parent Coordinator: Carol Ardito
Humanities & Interdisciplinary
Science & Math
Screened

Buses: B103, B11, B41, B44, B44-SBS, B49, B6, B8, Q35

What's special:

Strong science and math, racially integrated student body

The downside:

Large class sizes, little opportunity for individual attention

InsideSchools Review

Our review:

The giant, overcrowded Midwood High School has one of the best science programs in the city and a dizzying array of clubs and sports, everything from a marching band to a cricket team. Top students conduct research with mentors at nearby Brooklyn College, while struggling students get the help they need to be successful.

On the day of our visit, science students extracted DNA from peas in one class. In another, they dropped balls of different weights, repeating Galileo's famous experiment with high-tech equipment to graph acceleration. Students may take electives like robotics, forensics and anatomy as well as standard courses like chemistry and physics.

In the science research program, we spoke to a girl who studied how parrots released from Brooklyn College campus 20 years ago had adapted to the cold climate. Another student was researching how to make electro chemical devices like fuel cells and solar panels more efficient.

Michael McDonnell, who became principal in 2013, emphasizes a hands-on approach to science that seems to work with students of all abilities. McDonnell is a Midwood parent as well as long-time science teacher and former assistant principal at the school. He has a BA in meteorology.

Midwood is a welcoming, racially integrated school that attracts students from across Brooklyn. Nearly half are zoned for the school and the rest enroll in competitive, highly selective medical science and humanities programs. Students in the Medical Science Institute take five years of science in four years and concentrate in research, robotics or medical issues. Students admitted to the Humanities Institute must take at least four years of foreign language, including one year of Latin. Ninth graders in the zoned program may move to a selective program after their first year if teachers believe they can handle the workload.

The huge size of the school is both a plus and a minus. There is strong school spirit, and students told us that kids of different backgrounds and skills mix and mingle. The energy of the strongest students seems to raise the bar for everyone. The large enrollment means Midwood can offer more than a dozen Advanced Placement courses and lots of electives like robotics and journalism. It has a well-equipped library and up-to-date labs.

But students don't always get individual attention. One student told Insideschools, "if you are self-motivated, you will do fine here, teachers will help you... but you have to be willing to say if you need help, because it's not going to just come and find you." There is human gridlock during class changes. Crowd-control means rules about using the bathrooms and not wearing hats are strictly enforced. There is a staggered schedule, and some students start at 7:15 am. Most seniors leave by 12:30 pm, because the school doesn't have the budget to offer a full day of classes.

Midwood has a thoughtful approach to math and science that is designed so that students master critical skills before moving on. Students who arrive with weak skills two years of living environment and two years of algebra before taking classes in other areas of math and science. Students who do not find math comes easily are still encouraged to take four years. These students can take classes such as discrete math, which looks at topics they will use in real life, for example how much interest rates on a loan will cost you in the long run. On the other end, students can accelerate in math by taking a one-year course that combines algebra 2 and pre-calculus.

McDonnell told Insideschools that for some neighborhood students (including some recent immigrants from Pakistan who have interrupted formal education) the "doing part of science" is what works. In the first year of living environment the focus is on skills development, particularly reading, math and the metric system. McDonnell told us that, "there are more vocabulary words in a year of living environment than there are in a year of foreign language."

Changes to the English curriculum in response to Common Core caused division in the department at Midwood, in particular a decision to use 70 percent non-fiction texts. The English assistant principal, Suzanne Thomas, told us that the goal of these changes is to develop skills in research, argument and critical thinking so students can "read, write, listen and speak for the real world."

One teacher told us that while "being able to write an argument is good that doesn't mean you should exclude fiction from the curriculum... it's hard to meet all the Common Core expectations with regard to non-fiction and also get them to read the great books that I passionately believe the students need to be better human beings." On the day of our visit students in one English class were going over unfamiliar vocabulary in Oedipus Rex.

The social studies classes we visited were lively and engaging. One integrated co-teaching history class studied the French Revolution and had an animated debate on what to do when leaders do not serve the interests of the wider population. Another class discussed the electoral system and analyzed the 2014 U.S. Senate elections. Teachers at Midwood—like most schools in the city--have five sections of 34 students. Administrators acknowledge that students may not receive individual attention and in classes like English and social studies, teachers simply do not have time to read all student work.

Students at Midwood are spoilt for choice when it comes to sports and clubs. Students can compete in PSAL in everything from cricket to wrestling. Students can also play sports like ping-pong and golf as part of a club. Other unique Midwood clubs include gardening, cycling, golf, and ocean science. The school has an award-winning newspaper called the Argus. Many students also participate in SING!, an annual musical theatre production.

College is the goal for most students at Midwood. Every year a handful of students go to Ivy-league schools and most go to CUNY and SUNY colleges. The school has a college office with two college counselors for 850 seniors. Although regular guidance counselors and sports coaches also assist with college applications, administrators acknowledge that students don't get a lot of individual attention.

Special Education: The school has a range of special education services including self-contained and integrated co-teaching classes for the approximately 200 Midwood students with Individualized Education Programs. Midwood strives to place students in the least restrictive environment. Special education students are encouraged to take CTE (career and technical education) courses along with graduation requirements.

Admissions: Zoned school. Students who have at least a 90 average in their core courses, score Level 3 or 4 on their state exams and have good attendance (10 or fewer absences) may apply to the Medical Science Institute or the Humanities program. Haitian Creole speakers with grades of 85 or above may apply to a bilingual Medical Science Institute. (Clara Hemphill and Ella Colley, November 2014)

InsideStats

Click tabs above to see school stats

At a glance

Shared campus? No

This school is in its own building

Number of Students 3877

Average Daily Attendance 93%

Uniforms? No

Metal detectors? No

Students at this school

Asian

  
33%

Black

  
31%

Hispanic

  
12%

White

  
23%

Free Lunch

  
47%

Special ed

  
6%

English Language Learners

  
4%

INCOMING STUDENTS' PROFICIENCY: 3.06 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

34 25 CITYWIDE AVERAGE

DO STUDENTS LIKE THE TEACHERS?

How many students say their teachers inspire them to learn?

60% 63% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

DO TEACHERS LIKE THE PRINCIPAL?

How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?

70% 78% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

IS THIS SCHOOL SAFE?

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

82% 82% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

 
 

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

89% 77% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

HOW IS
ATTENDANCE?

How Many Students are Chronically Absent?

16% 38% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Who graduates

Class of 2014

How many students graduated within 4 years?

89% 73% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many students graduated within 6 years?

92% 80% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Previous Years

How many students graduated within 4 years?

85% 65% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

45% 11% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many students graduated within 6 years?

93% 75% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many graduates dropped out within 4 years?

3% 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?

36%

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

21%

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

66%

Are students ready for college?

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

70% 27% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

SAT reading scores

506
418 CITYWIDE AVERAGE 497 NATIONWIDE AVERAGE

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

82% 63% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

SAT math scores

551
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?

77% 76% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Special ed & ELL

How well does this school serve students with disabilities?

How many special ed students graduated within 4 years?

42% 47% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many special ed students graduated within 6 years?

74% 54% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

63% 68% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

96% 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. Open to New York City residents
  2. For K26H: Open only to students who reside in the geographical catchment area
  3. For K26L only: Open only to students whose home language is Haitian Creole

Source: High school directory

Liberal Arts and Science Institute

Unscreened

Students choose among four concentrations: Pre-engineering & Technology, Performing Arts, Law Leadership & Community Service and Communication Media Arts.

Humanities Institute

Screened

Creative Writing, American Classics, Journalism, Medieval Literature, Intel Social Science Research, Criminal Law, Law Internship, Latin

Selection Criteria

  • English (90-100) , Math (90-100) , Science (90-100) , Social Studies (90-100)
  • Math Levels: Levels 3-4 ; English Language Arts Levels: Levels 3-4

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

Medical Science Institute

Screened

Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Calculus, Statistics, Medical Issues, Environmental Sciences, Intel Research.

Selection Criteria

  • English (90-100) , Math (90-100) , Science (90-100) , Social Studies (90-100)
  • Math Levels: Levels 3-4 ; English Language Arts Levels: Levels 3-4

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

Bilingual Haitian Creole Institute

Screened: Language & Academics

Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Calculus, Statistics, Medical Issues, Environmental Sciences, Intel Research; 9th grade core subjects taught in Bilingual Haitian Creole. Students then transition into our ESL program.

Selection Criteria

  • English (85-100) , Math (85-100) , Science (85-100) , Social Studies (85-100)
  • Math Levels: Levels 3-4 ; English Language Arts Levels: Levels 3-4

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

Academics

AP COURSES: Biology, Calculus AB, Calculus BC, Chemistry, English Literature and Composition, Environmental Science, European History, French Language and Culture, Human Geography, Macroeconomics, Physics B, Physics C: Mechanics, Psychology, Spanish Language and Culture, Statistics, United States Government and Politics, United States History, World History

Source: High school directory

Sports/Clubs

EXTRACURRICULAR: Archon, Argus, Arista, Art, BioMed Society, Chorus, Concerts, Conflict Resolution, Dance, Drama, Fashion, Film, Gospel Choir, Historical Society, Japanese Animation, Knitting Circle, Marching Band, Model Congress, Patterns, Peer Tutoring and Mediation, Philosophy, Photography, Political Discussion, SING, Social and Emotional Learning, Step Team, Student Government, Writing, and Yearbook. Midwood High School currently has more than 50 clubs.

BOYS PSAL SPORTS: Baseball & JV Baseball, Basketball & JV Basketball, Bowling, Cricket, Cross Country, Football & JV Football, Golf, Handball, Indoor Track, Lacrosse & JV Lacrosse, Outdoor Track, Soccer, Swimming, Tennis, Volleyball, Wrestling

GIRLS PSAL SPORTS: Basketball & JV Basketball, Bowling, Cross Country, Handball, Outdoor Track, Soccer, Softball, Swimming, Tennis, Volleyball

Other schools sports: Aerobics, Basketball, Billiards, Bowling, Volleyball, Weightlifting, Yoga, Yoga Fusion

Source: High school directory

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