Medgar Evers College Preparatory School
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Medgar Evers College Preparatory School
Middle School Stats
High School Stats
A rigorous ride on a fast track to academic achievement awaits students at Brooklyn's Medgar Evers College Preparatory School. This school has grown over the past decade to become an inspiring success story for its largely African-American population.
Medgar Evers' formula is simple: Select eager, bright students, set high standards, provide resources, believe in students' abilities, and demand excellence. "They don't take failure as an option," said one 11th-grader. "Teachers don't let kids give up." The curriculum includes Chinese language classes, more than 20 Advanced Placement courses (students must take at least one to graduate) and a strong science and technology component (many of the African-American students in New York State who take the Physics CAP Exam come from Medgar Evers).
Many students take physics in 7th grade. "When you expose them early you remove the mystique of 'oh, I can't do it'. We remove the mystique from physics very early," said Dr. Michael Wiltshire, the school's principal, guiding force and most ardent cheerleader. In their high school years, many students earn college credit (tuition-free) at next-door Medgar Evers College.
The school has a very high graduation rate, and most students receive a Regents or Advanced Regents diploma. Nearly everyone goes on to college, including Ivy League schools such as Penn, Brown, Columbia and Cornell. "We challenge our students," explained Wiltshire. "We give them a rigorous, all-around high school education that will prepare them for any major they choose in college."
Math and science classes last 90 minutes. "That gives time for teachers to teach and time for students to practice," said Wiltshire, but there is less emphasis on writing and English. Wiltshire is working on "beefing up" literature and social studies, he said, after hearing from returning graduates that they are well-prepared to do college work in math and science, but less so in the humanities. He also wants SAT scores to go up.
The principal and students agree that Medgar Evers is more nurturing than large, specialized schools such as Brooklyn Tech. "Here, everyone knows you," Wiltshire said. "They know your name, they know your mother and father...This is like family. This is like home." A student who chose Medgar Evers over Brooklyn Tech said: "I know the teachers. I see them in the hallway and say hello." Upon entering classrooms, Wiltshire typically greets students with "Hello, scholars." One junior even transferred to Medgar Evers from a citywide selective school, NEST+M, because she had more opportunity to take AP courses at Medgar Evers, she said.
Getting in isn't easy, particularly at the middle school. Medgar Evers has far more applicants than available seats in 6th grade, and 95 percent of the 8th graders stay for high school, said Wiltshire. Many incoming sixth-graders come from gifted and talented programs at schools where other students often tease the smart kids. (One student said of his arrival at Medgar Evers, "It was like going from being the outcast to being normal.") Grades and test scores are important considerations for acceptance, but Wiltshire also looks for children who display an eagerness to learn - and who won't be discipline problems. "We cannot deal with immature sixth-graders," he said. If a kid has the wrong attitude, "it will come out the day they interview," he said.
Students in grades 6-9 must commit to a three-week long summer school, which is designed to give them a head start on their demanding studies. ("We don''t use the summer for remediation," Wiltshire said. "You do remedial work during the school year.") The ninth-grade summer physics course, for example, puts students two or three chapters ahead of their peers by September. Students we spoke to say they are constantly working to keep pace in the competitive environment. "If you're not dedicated, you can't make it at this school," said one.
Students of varying ages co-exist in the halls and classrooms, older students mentor young ones, and students might have the same teacher in 12th grade that they did in 6th. “We don’t look at it as a middle school,” Wiltshire said. “It's an early high school. By the end of 8th grade, most students complete most of their Regents exams.”
Facilities are the biggest drawback. The sterile, office-like school building has top-notch art and science rooms but lacks a gym, auditorium and athletic fields. Despite this, the girls' basketball team won the PSAL Class A championship in 2010, the girls track team won top honors in 2013. Arts offerings are scarce, although the young marching band and competes at the national level and there is a vibrant dance program.
Special education: Special education services are very limited; extra help is available in extended-day sessions and in resource room. "I believe all kids should be mainstreamed," said Wiltshire. "For slow learners, you make special accommodations to meet their needs."
Admission: Both the middle school and high school are selective. Historically the school has accepted students from all over the city, but in 2013 the Education Department told Wiltshire that District 17 students would get priority in 6th grade admissions. Medgar Evers accepts 75 students each year for 6th grade based on academic performance and attitude. Parents and children are interviewed and children are given a diagnostic test. About 110 additional students are admitted at 9th grade. (Skip Card, December 2010; updated Pamela Wheaton September 2013)