Westchester Square Academy

Grades 9-12

What’s Special

Modeled on Brooklyn Latin but serving a wider range of students.

The Downside

Building has metal detectors.

Our Review

Westchester Square Academy, opened in fall 2012 on the Herbert H. Lehmancampus, is a good fit for students who want uniforms and structure and a demanding liberal arts education.

Founder Sara Dingledy came from one of the city's most selective schools,Brooklyn Latin, where she was assistant principal. Dingledy, [pictured with partnership manager Matthew McSorley] designed Westchester Square to bring some of the teaching methods of the specialized high school to a wider group of students.

Westchester Square Academy doesn't teach Latin, but it does offer student-led discussions, called Socratic Seminars. Students learn to defend their ideas logically, to draw key ideas from their reading and to state and write their ideas clearly. Students take quarterly assessments and teachers offer in-depth feedback.

Most 9th grade classes have two adults in the classroom with the addition of either a special education teacher or a humanities teacher.

An honors program for students who scored 3 or 4 on state English Language Arts and math exams opens in 2013. Coursework is accelerated and Advanced Placement classes begin sophomore year. Students have the opportunity to take an additional science course such as physics or Earth Science.

Students in the unscreened program who want to push themselves may also take pre-AP and AP classes. This "open honors" approach allows students to take just one or two AP classes if they "show a willingness to engage and demonstrate motivation," Dingledy said. Teachers get pre-AP training where they will learn how to build skills to make AP level classes accessible to all. Native Spanish and World History were the first AP classes offered and by 2015 the school also offered English, biology, environmental studies and United States history.

An avid traveler, Dingledy believes travel can be a "life-changing experience" and plans to offer opportunities such as a trip to Costa Rica for students who study Spanish.

Through a collaboration with DreamYard, students take weekly electives in the arts, humanities or technology/science. At the end of sophomore year students choose one area of focus.

McSorley said some students prefer to stay within the close-knit WSA community while others make use of Lehman campus-wide clubs and sports. WSA has a Model United Nations club and a Student Leadership Council. It shares a cafeteria with Renaissance, another small school in the building.

Students wear a uniforum of maroon and white polo shirts and button-down shirts with collars paired with black pants. McSorley said that some students hide their uniforms under hoodies to avoid unwanted attention from co-located schools, but added that this should be less of an issue now that four of the new schools will require uniforms.

College: A college advisor works with classroom teachers on skills such as vocabulary development, test-taking and essay writing.

Special Education: Special education teacher Lacey Vargas said some students with special needs are pulled out for small group instruction as needed, but whenever possible they are mixed in classes with their general education peers, and two teachers, one of whom is trained to teach special education.

Admissions: Priority to Bronx students or residents who attend an information session, fair or open house. Over 700 applied for 135 seats in the school's second year. Students must score level 3 or 4 on state math and ELA exams for the honors program. All interested students must interview with a faculty member as part of the application process. Contact [email protected] (Lydie Raschka, interviews at the high school fair, April 2013; updated course offerings 2015)

About the students

Enrollment
589
Asian
5.6%
Black
23.9%
Hispanic
57.6%
White
10.0%
Other
2.9%
Free or reduced priced lunch
100%
Students with disabilities
22%
English language learners
7%
Male
54%

About the school

Shared campus?
Yes
This school shares the Herbert H. Lehman Educational Campus with five other schools
Uniforms required?
Yes
Metal detectors?
Yes
How crowded? (Full is 100%)
89%
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

Attendance

Average daily attendance
87%
85% Citywide Average
How many students are chronically absent?
44%
42% Citywide Average

Is this school safe?

How many teachers say order and discipline are maintained at this school?
98%
76% Citywide Average
How many students think bullying happens most or all of the time at this school?
18%
18% Citywide Average
How many students say they feel safe in the hallways, bathrooms and locker rooms?
71%
84% Citywide Average
How many students say most students treat each other with respect?
59%
56% Citywide Average

About the leadership

Years of principal experience at this school
4.0
5.3 Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?
100%
77% Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal has a clear vision for this school?
96%
83% Citywide Average
How many teachers trust the principal?
97%
78% Citywide Average

About the teachers

How many teachers have 3 or more years of experience teaching?
40%
73% Citywide Average
Teacher attendance
98%
97% Citywide Average
How many teachers say they would recommend this school to other families?
100%
79% Citywide Average
How many teachers think the staff collaborate to make this school run effectively?
98%
84% Citywide Average
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

Engaging curriculum?

How many students say this school offers enough programs, classes and activities to keep them interested?
76%
71% Citywide Average
How many students say they are challenged in most or all of their classes?
49%
49% Citywide Average
How many students say the programs, classes and activities here encourage them to develop talent outside academics?
72%
70% Citywide Average
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

How many graduate?

How many students graduate in 4 years?
77%
77% Citywide Average

Are students prepared for college?

How many students graduate with test scores high enough to enroll at CUNY without remedial help?
28%
32% Citywide Average
How many students take a college-level course or earn a professional certificate?
33%
41% 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%
0% Citywide Average
How many English language learners graduate in 4 years?
67%
65% Citywide Average

How does this school serve students with disabilities?

This school offers self-contained classes
This school offers team teaching (ICT)
How many students say that students with disabilities are included in all activities?
74%
64% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say this school offers enough activities and services for their children's needs?
90%
87% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say this school works to achive the goals of their students' IEPs?
90%
90% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say they are satisfied with the IEP development process at this school?
90%
89% Citywide Average
How many special ed students graduate in 4 years?
57%
60% Citywide Average
For more information about our data sources, see About Our Data

Programs and Admissions

Westchester Square Academy
Admissions Method: Limited Unscreened
Program Description

Westchester Square Academy Honors Program
Admissions Method: Screened
Program Description

Program offers accelerated coursework, including AP courses, starting in Sophomore year. Students will have the opportunity to take additional science courses including Physics and Environmental Studies.

Academics

Language Courses

French, Spanish

Advanced Placement (AP) courses

AP Environmental Science, AP Spanish, AP US History

Sports

Boys PSAL teams

Baseball, Basketball, Cross Country, Football, Indoor Track, Lacrosse, Outdoor Track, Rugby, Soccer, Tennis, Wrestling

Girls PSAL teams

Basketball, Bowling, Cross Country, Flag Football, Indoor Track, Lacrosse, Outdoor Track, Soccer, Softball, Tennis, Volleyball

Coed PSAL teams

Cricket, Stunt

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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