I.S. 171 Abraham Lincoln
Multicultural population with increasing success in high school admission
Low levels of achievement and very old facilities
MS 171 is a friendly neighborhood middle school in the diverse Cypress Hills community. Students come from many different countries including the Caribbean, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, China and Yemen.
Principal Indira Mota arrived in January 2014, after a 10-year period during which the school went through five principals. Her immediate task, she said, was to change the tone and atmosphere in the school where students have reported problems with bullying. She prides herself on having an open door policy, she said. Kids are allowed to come in and talk to me. She has earned the trust of the faculty: 90 percent of the teachers said she was a good manager on the annual school survey.
IS 171 is home to the Student Success Center pilot program, a Department of Education project which brings in counselors to train students to assist their classmates with high school admission. The intensive program has seen good results: Rather than simply choose to go to local high schools (as in past years), more and more students are now enrolling in some of the citys top high schools, including the specialized exam schools.
In addition to advice about high school choice, the center offers counseling, high school and college fairs, college trips and youth leadership development. Ten colleges sent representatives to a college fair at the school in 2015.
Scores on state exams have been well below the city average. To help address that, teachers administer three practice exams to set a baseline before the state tests. The principal has also instituted common planning sessions for teachers and encourages them to integrate writing into most subjects.
For high-achievers there is a top class in 7th and 8th grade. There are no Regents classes but students may attend after-school prep sessions to prepare for U.S. History and Algebra Regents exams.
The 101-year-old building has some quirkssuch as a cafeteria separated by genderand could use a sprucing up and a paint-job in the stairwells. It is shared with Highland Park, a new small middle school.
SPECIAL EDUCATION: The majority of students with special needs are enrolled in self-contained classes. On the day of our visit, students in those classrooms seemed distracted, having trouble paying attention and focusing on the planned lesson. There are also ICT classrooms.
HIGH SCHOOL ADMISSIONS: Many graduates attend nearby high schools, including Hillcrest, John Adams and Transit Tech and several small schools in the Franklin K. Lane complex. That is beginning to change since the Student Success Center opened. Many more 8th-graders have been accepted to specialized schools and screened schools in other boroughs such as Frank Sinatra, Fashion Industries, Beacon and Bard.
ADMISSIONS: Neighborhood school. Most students come from within a 20 block radius. (Pamela Wheaton and Jacquie Wayans, June 2015)
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Brooklyn NY 11208