Jonas Bronck Academy

Grades 6-8
Staff Pick
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What’s Special

A focus on research and writing; graduates attend good high schools

The Downside

Math instruction is a work in progress; no outdoor space

Our Review

Founded in 1997 as an alternative to traditional junior high schools, Jonas Bronck Academy has become one of the most sought-after schools in the Bronx. A caring atmosphere, teachers who work together as a team and an imaginative curriculum combine to offer excellent preparation for high school—both public and private.

Students do far more research and writing than at a typical middle school. Beginning in 6th grade, children learn skills such as how to cite sources and how to weigh the reliability of materials they find online. By 8th grade, they write 5-page research papers, thoughtful essays on books such as To Kill a Mockingbird, and their own poetry. In science, they construct research projects on topics of their own choosing. One student examined whether a student’s height affects how fast he or she can throw a baseball—and used a radar gun to measure the speed of the ball. Another measured bacteria growth in toothpaste and mouthwash.

Children read classic texts, such as Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” but they also debate contemporary issues such as “Is illegal immigration a problem?” In one class we visited, 6th graders were writing essays about ancient Greece: Was Sparta’s educational system, based on “fitness, obedience and courage,” better than Athens’, with its emphasis on “reading, writing, and learning to be a citizen?”

The school offers dance, art and Italian. A full-time guidance counselor and social worker offer an unusual level of social and emotional support. The student body is mostly black and Latino, and children come from Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Honduras, Guatemala, and various countries in Africa.

The school’s average test scores don’t reflect the high quality of instruction we saw on our visit. Teachers say they emphasize speaking, listening and writing—skills that are not measured well by multiple choice exams. “We don’t do test prep,” says Principal Brenda Gonzalez. “We teach them to do research papers, write essays, and do interdisciplinary projects.” Gonzalez, principal since 2012, has masters’ degrees both from Harvard School of Education and Bank Street College.

A few downsides: math instruction is not as strong as humanities and science. “A lot of work needs to be done in math,” Gonzalez acknowledges. The school, housed on two floors of an office building across the street from Fordham University, has no gym, auditorium or outdoor space. It does have a nice cafeteria and a “multipurpose room” that doubles as a dance studio. Children go to a nearby elementary school to use the gym.

The school invites representatives from various high schools to come to two “high school fairs” at Jonas Bronck and encourages kids to visit as many high schools as possible. “My kids visit tons of high schools, public, private and charter,” says Gonzalez. Children take part in academic enrichment programs such as Breakthrough New York, Prep for Prep and Summer on the Hill at the Horace Mann School. Many graduates attend Bronx Center for Science and Math; some are admitted to private schools such as Fieldston and Fordham Prep as well as the city’s specialized public high schools. Jonas Bronck offers test prep for the Specialized High School Admissions Test to any student who wants it.

SPECIAL EDUCATION: The school offers team teaching classes with two teachers, one of whom is certified in special education.

ADMISSIONS: There are typically 1,600 applicants for 90 seats. Children who live in districts 9 and 10 and who attend an information session are eligible. The school also considers a child’s attendance record. “If you are never absent or late, you have a really good chance of getting in here,” says Gonzalez. (Clara Hemphill, May 2017)

About the students

Enrollment
266
Asian
4.5%
Black
15.4%
Hispanic
76.7%
White
2.3%
Other
1.1%
Free or reduced priced lunch
90%
Students with disabilities
21%
English language learners
6%

About the school

Shared campus?
No
This school is in its own building.
Uniforms required?
Yes
Metal detectors?
No
How crowded? (Full is 100%)
127%
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

Attendance

Average daily attendance
98%
93% Citywide Average
How many students are chronically absent?
2%
20% Citywide Average

Is this school safe?

How many teachers say order and discipline are maintained at this school?
86%
77% Citywide Average
How many students think bullying happens most or all of the time at this school?
12%
28% Citywide Average
How many students say they feel safe in the hallways, bathrooms and locker rooms?
94%
82% Citywide Average
How many students say most students treat each other with respect?
60%
43% Citywide Average

About the leadership

Years of principal experience at this school
3.8
6.0 Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?
81%
82% Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal has a clear vision for this school?
95%
88% Citywide Average
How many teachers trust the principal?
86%
82% Citywide Average

About the teachers

How many teachers have 3 or more years of experience teaching?
67%
72% Citywide Average
Teacher attendance
100%
96% Citywide Average
How many teachers say they would recommend this school to other families?
100%
81% Citywide Average
How many teachers think the staff collaborate to make this school run effectively?
96%
86% 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?
27%
27% Citywide Average
How many students scored 3-4 on the state ELA exam?
45%
30% Citywide Average

Arts offerings

This school has 2 dedicated spaces for Music and Visual arts
This school has 1 licensed arts teacher in Music

Engaging curriculum?

How many students say this school offers enough programs, classes and activities to keep them interested?
83%
75% Citywide Average
How many students say they are challenged in most or all of their classes?
64%
56% Citywide Average
How many students say the programs, classes and activities here encourage them to develop talent outside academics?
80%
72% Citywide Average

Are students prepared for high school?

Accelerated courses offered for high school credit
Italian, Living Environment
How many 8th graders earn high school credit?
38%
26% Citywide Average
How many graduates of this school pass all their classes in 9th grade?
99%
84% Citywide Average
What high schools do most graduates attend?
Bronx Center for Science and Mathematics and Mott Hall Bronx HS
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

How does this school serve English Language Learners?

How many English language learners score 3-4 on the State ELA exam?
7%
5% Citywide Average
How many former English language learners score 3-4 on the State ELA exam?
24%
14% 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
1.93
1.9 Citywide Average
Average math score for self-contained students
2.07
2.1 Citywide Average
Average ELA score for ICT students
2.41
1.9 Citywide Average
Average ELA score for self-contained students
2.28
2.2 Citywide Average
Average math score for SETSS students
2.05
2.3 Citywide Average
Average ELA score for SETSS students
2.32
2.3 Citywide Average
How many students say that students with disabilities are included in all activities?
68%
67% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say this school offers enough activities and services for their children's needs?
93%
88% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say this school works to achive the goals of their students' IEPs?
96%
91% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say they are satisfied with the IEP development process at this school?
95%
90% Citywide Average
For more information about our data sources, see About Our Data
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