Frederick Douglass Academy

Grades 6-12
Staff Pick Staff Pick for Special Ed
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What’s Special

A plethora of AP courses, electives, sports and arts

The Downside

Some silliness and crude language in classes

Our Review

Few public schools in New York City offer the range of academics, arts and enrichment programs that Frederick Douglass Academy does. Students may study Japanese and Latin, grow plants in a roof garden, travel abroad, and take a significant number of Advanced Placement classes. Coursework is accelerated, and students may take as many as four Regents exams by the time they finish 8th grade. There are also strong electives in the arts and internships in engineering. Some graduates go on to Ivy League schools, often with substantial scholarships.

Longtime Principal Gregory Hodges retired in December 2013. His replacement, Joseph Gates, comes from IS 238 in Queens where he was principal for 12 years. Gates has brought many new initiatives to the school and has the support of the staff and students.

Photographs of student trips to diverse destinations around the world - from South Africa to Greece - bedeck bulletin boards of the school hallways. The school sends kids to other countries every year, with trips to Japan sponsored by Jet Blue and a Japanese airline that was impressed that African American students were learning Japanese. Many students are able to go for free.

On our visit, we saw students engaged in lively class discussions and teachers who seemed to be passionate and committed. In middle school English, the teacher prepping students for state tests said, "Don't think ELA exam. Think that you are in a room with college professors. How would you apply supportive features with sophisticated language?" We saw 6th-graders using words like myriad, vast and copious.

Seventh-grade living environment students hypothesized about what the children of an orange-skinned mother and blue-skinned father would look like.

In high school, history lessons spanned the globe, from failed Marxist revolts to the Sepoy Mutiny in India. Teachers took the time to break down terminology, such as Pan-Slavic, and offered interesting anecdotes to make the lessons more relevant. In AP calculus, the veteran teacher asked students to put up their hands if they knew the answer before saying, "Great, now I will call on the ones with their hands down." One student told us, "You can't hide here. Participation is part of the grade."

In aviation class, the teacher asked, "What does airplane engine have that car engine doesn't?" A young lady responded, "Dual engine ignition." Most students were engaged, a few lost.

FDA students are expected to be more independent as they progress through high school. There is more teacher-directed content in regular high school classes, while in AP classes students are encouraged to take the lead. Most AP courses are a mix of juniors and seniors with some sophomores. Homework averages about two hours a night, but some seniors in AP courses say they study between three and five hours a night. More than 50 percent of students do well enough on their AP exams to receive college credit.

FDA excels in college counseling. The Posse Foundation, which sends young people to top universities like Harvard and Stanford, regularly picks FDA students for scholarships. There are three full-time college counselors and guidance counselors. Students say the office is often jam-packed with kids who aspire to college, and that it is relatively common for students to apply to more than a dozen institutions.

Uniforms (blue shirts for middle school and white for high school) have been a sensitive issue for parents who complain that the code is too strict. Deans do class rotations twice a period to check whether students uniforms are in compliance.

The school has a zero tolerance policy regarding fights, meaning that if you fight, youre out. Occasionally, fights occur after school between students at FDA and neighboring schools. To avoid this, deans and school officers keep an eye out on campus and on the walk to trains and buses that students use for travel to make sure there are no altercations.

The hallways are generally orderly, even as students move from class to class. Horseplay, while not entirely absent, appears limited. We saw a boy throw a young lady's shoe into the hall and heard a few students use poor language in robotics. However, most classes are well managed. Participating in student government has helped middle schoolers in particular take more responsibility for their actions on campus by giving them a voice in school affairs.

Offerings in art, music and dance are available after school and on Saturdays. Sports include taekwondo, lacrosse, fencing and Aviation club, just to name a few. There is a newly constructed radio station in collaboration with WBLS. The school has a fully staffed medical and dental office.

SPECIAL EDUCATION: FDA offers co-teaching classes and "self-contained" classes. Specific Regents prep for special needs and one-on-one tutoring are offered. The school goes to great lengths to ensure that all students have the skills they need to succeed by the time they graduate. Middle school years are spent paying close attention to specific areas of concern. By 9th-grade, the hope is that all special ed students can be integrated into team-teaching classes in the four major subjects, with the goal of being fully mainstreamed with resource room time for senior year. 

ADMISSIONS: District 5 only for middle school. For high school, preference is for District 5 students with 3s or 4s on standardized tests and for current middle school students who placed the school on their application. Students with lower scores and those outside the district may still get in. (Jamaal Abdul-Alim and Jacquie Wayans, February 2014)

About the students

Enrollment
1433
Asian
1.5%
Black
70.2%
Hispanic
23.9%
White
1.7%
Other
2.7%
Free or reduced priced lunch
70%
Students with disabilities
15%
English language learners
3%

About the school

Shared campus?
Yes
This school shares a building with PS 200
Uniforms required?
Yes
Metal detectors?
No
How crowded? (Full is 100%)
87%
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

Attendance

Average daily attendance
89%
90% Citywide Average
How many students are chronically absent?
30%
27% Citywide Average

Is this school safe?

How many teachers say order and discipline are maintained at this school?
63%
74% Citywide Average
How many students think bullying happens most or all of the time at this school?
25%
22% Citywide Average
How many students say they feel safe in the hallways, bathrooms and locker rooms?
73%
82% Citywide Average
How many students say most students treat each other with respect?
39%
48% Citywide Average

About the leadership

Years of principal experience at this school
4.7
5.8 Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?
64%
77% Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal has a clear vision for this school?
69%
82% Citywide Average
How many teachers trust the principal?
67%
78% Citywide Average

About the teachers

How many teachers have 3 or more years of experience teaching?
84%
70% Citywide Average
Teacher attendance
95%
97% Citywide Average
How many teachers say they would recommend this school to other families?
79%
80% Citywide Average
How many teachers think the staff collaborate to make this school run effectively?
73%
83% Citywide Average
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

Test scores

How many students scored 3-4 on the state math exam?
11%
30% Citywide Average
How many students scored 3-4 on the state ELA exam?
21%
35% Citywide Average

Arts offerings

This school has 5 dedicated spaces for Dance, Music, Visual arts, and an Auditorium
This school has 4 licensed arts teachers in Dance, Music, Theater, and Visual arts

Engaging curriculum?

How many students say this school offers enough programs, classes and activities to keep them interested?
83%
68% Citywide Average
How many students say they are challenged in most or all of their classes?
43%
52% Citywide Average
How many students say the programs, classes and activities here encourage them to develop talent outside academics?
80%
68% Citywide Average

Are students prepared for high school?

How many 8th graders earn high school credit?
20%
38% Citywide Average
How many graduates of this school pass all their classes in 9th grade?
79%
87% Citywide Average
What high schools do most graduates attend?
Frederick Douglass Academy and Thurgood Marshall Academy for Learning and Social Change
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

How many graduate?

How many students graduate in 4 years?
74%
83% Citywide Average
How many graduates earn Advanced Regents diplomas?
21%
13% Citywide Average
How many students drop out?
6%
4% Citywide Average

Are students prepared for college?

How many students graduate with test scores high enough to enroll at CUNY without remedial help?
44%
38% Citywide Average
How many students take a college-level course or earn a professional certificate?
44%
48% Citywide Average
How many graduate and enter college within 18 months?
75%
71% Citywide Average
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

How does this school serve English Language Learners?

How many former English language learners score 3-4 on the State ELA exam?
0%
7% Citywide Average
How many English language learners graduate in 4 years?
33%
65% Citywide Average

How does this school serve students with disabilities?

This school offers self-contained classes
This school offers team teaching (ICT)
Average math score for ICT students
1.73
1.9 Citywide Average
Average math score for self-contained students
1.78
2.1 Citywide Average
Average ELA score for ICT students
1.78
1.9 Citywide Average
Average ELA score for self-contained students
1.88
2.2 Citywide Average
How many students say that students with disabilities are included in all activities?
48%
64% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say this school offers enough activities and services for their children's needs?
84%
85% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say this school works to achive the goals of their students' IEPs?
89%
89% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say they are satisfied with the IEP development process at this school?
89%
87% Citywide Average
How many special ed students graduate in 4 years?
29%
67% Citywide Average
For more information about our data sources, see About Our Data

Programs and Admissions

Frederick Douglass Academy for the Humanities (FDAH)
Admissions Method: Screened
Program Description

This Academy will prepare students for their choice of college studies and careers. Students are expected to take a minimum of two AP or CUNY College Now courses for which they are eligible which may include AP United States History, AP Microeconomics, AP European History, AP English, AP Spanish, AP French and AP Latin.

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM)
Admissions Method: Screened
Program Description

This Academy will prepare students for college studies and careers in Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Medicine. Students will have access to elective courses such as Robotics, Aeronautics/Aviation, Anatomy & Physiology and Forensic Science. Students are expected to take a minimum of two AP or CUNY College Now courses for which they are eligible and may include AP Calculus, AP Statistics, AP Biology, AP Chemistry and AP Physics.

Academics

Language Courses

French, Japanese, Spanish

Advanced Placement (AP) courses

AP Biology, AP Calculus, AP Chemistry, AP Computer Science, AP Economics, AP English, AP European History, AP Physics, AP Spanish, AP Statistics

Sports

Boys PSAL teams

Baseball, Basketball, Fencing, Football, Indoor Track, Lacrosse, Outdoor Track, Soccer, Tennis, Volleyball

Girls PSAL teams

Basketball, Fencing, Lacrosse, Soccer, Softball, Tennis, Volleyball, Wrestling

Coed PSAL teams

Double Dutch

Read about admissions, academics, and more at this school on the NYCDOE’s School Finder
NYC Department of Education: School Finder

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