Academy for Young Writers

Grades 6-12
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What’s Special

Principal has a clear vision; beautiful, well-equipped new building

The Downside

Math Regents scores lag behind English; new building is far from the subway

Our Review

At the Academy for Young Writers, all students are published authors by the time they graduate. There is an in-house publishing house, a fulltime poet in residence and young, idealistic teachers who forge close relationships with students.

Freshmen and sophomores start with a two-year writing lab that introduces creative and analytical writing skills that are important to prepare students for college. All units of study in every class end with an exhibition, largely based on writing and students write in every subject.

The approach has met with success. Founded in 2006, some 85 percent of its students in this unscreened school graduate in four years. The school was given a beautiful new facility in 2012 and it will expand to include a middle school beginning with a 6th grade in 2013. Theres so much more you can do with seven years than with four, especially the college readiness piece, said Principal Courtney Winkfield in a telephone interview.

After five years in Williamsburg, the school moved to East New York, a move that was serendipitous because, although it is far from any subway stop, it is much closer to where most students live. That should help boost attendance and parent involvement, both of which were problematic when most families lived an hour away from school, said the principal.

It was more than just getting a beautiful new space, she said, it was getting a beautiful new space in our students backyard.

About 60 percent of the students come from East New York and Brownsville. Nearly three-quarters of them are female -- boys, please apply - says Winkfield.

The snazzy new building is shared with Spring Creek Community School and a District 75 program. Each school has its own floors, art rooms and science labs. There is a well-stocked shared library, with an area reserved for college research and resources, a double-sized gymnasium, a workout center that can hold an entire class, two cafeterias, dedicated music rooms and practice rooms where a fulltime music teacher which instruct in both instrumental and vocal music.

The breathtaking, colorful auditorium seats 600 people. Thats the aha exciting thing we take people to see first, said Winkfield. The building was designed very thoughtfully with principals having input in everything, she said.

Most classes have only 20 students; seminar-style English and math classes have even fewer. Students are on a first-name basis with their teachers, many of whom are available after hours by e-mail or cell phone. Teachers have common planning time, and meet regularly to discuss curriculum, classroom strategies and students' progress. Many have been with the school since it opened and all but four in the staff of 40 made the move from Williamsburg to East New York. Teachers receive training in everything from how to conduct class discussions to how to handle discipline problems in a room dedicated to professional development , outfitted with computers and a SmartBoard. Students get the same support from teachers - both in class and in structured advisory sessions.

Most students come in unprepared to do high school work. They catch up quickly in English with intensive reading and writing courses but they struggle in math. Most score lower than 80 on the math Regents, below what is needed to avoid remediation in college.

Special education: There are integrated co-teaching classes and some students are in small self-contained classes for part of the day.

After school: Numerous clubs include Double-Dutch, film soccer baseball, a student newspaper, karaoke and cheerleading. There are no varsity sports teams.

Admissions: Limited unscreened. Middle school students will have preference in admission to the high school.

College admissions: About 75 percent of the graduates go to four year colleges. A few have received full rides to the principals alma mater, Lewis and Clark in Oregon. While most attend CUNYs and SUNYs, others go further afield to the University of Wisconsin, Spellman and Howard. (Pamela Wheaton, interview & web reports, August 2012)

About the students

Enrollment
566
Asian
1.1%
Black
70.0%
Hispanic
25.8%
White
0.9%
Other
2.3%
Free or reduced priced lunch
80%
Students with disabilities
20%
English language learners
2%

About the school

Shared campus?
Yes
This school shares the Spring Street Educational Campus with one other school
Uniforms required?
Yes
Metal detectors?
No
How crowded? (Full is 100%)
101%
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

Attendance

Average daily attendance
90%
90% Citywide Average
How many students are chronically absent?
38%
27% Citywide Average

Is this school safe?

How many teachers say order and discipline are maintained at this school?
36%
74% Citywide Average
How many students think bullying happens most or all of the time at this school?
33%
22% Citywide Average
How many students say they feel safe in the hallways, bathrooms and locker rooms?
82%
82% Citywide Average
How many students say most students treat each other with respect?
43%
48% Citywide Average

About the leadership

Years of principal experience at this school
5.9
5.8 Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?
95%
77% Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal has a clear vision for this school?
95%
82% Citywide Average
How many teachers trust the principal?
95%
78% Citywide Average

About the teachers

How many teachers have 3 or more years of experience teaching?
57%
70% Citywide Average
Teacher attendance
97%
97% Citywide Average
How many teachers say they would recommend this school to other families?
61%
80% Citywide Average
How many teachers think the staff collaborate to make this school run effectively?
95%
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?
6%
30% Citywide Average
How many students scored 3-4 on the state ELA exam?
26%
35% Citywide Average

Engaging curriculum?

How many students say this school offers enough programs, classes and activities to keep them interested?
68%
68% Citywide Average
How many students say they are challenged in most or all of their classes?
51%
52% Citywide Average
How many students say the programs, classes and activities here encourage them to develop talent outside academics?
66%
68% Citywide Average

Are students prepared for high school?

How many 8th graders earn high school credit?
0%
38% Citywide Average
What high schools do most graduates attend?
Academy for Young Writers
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

How many graduate?

How many students graduate in 4 years?
86%
83% Citywide Average
How many graduates earn Advanced Regents diplomas?
0%
13% Citywide Average
How many students drop out?
7%
4% Citywide Average

Are students prepared for college?

How many students graduate with test scores high enough to enroll at CUNY without remedial help?
12%
38% Citywide Average
How many students take a college-level course or earn a professional certificate?
23%
48% Citywide Average
How many graduate and enter college within 18 months?
53%
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 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
1.74
1.9 Citywide Average
Average math score for self-contained students
1.81
2.1 Citywide Average
Average ELA score for ICT students
1.87
1.9 Citywide Average
Average ELA score for self-contained students
1.93
2.2 Citywide Average
How many students say that students with disabilities are included in all activities?
66%
64% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say this school offers enough activities and services for their children's needs?
92%
85% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say this school works to achive the goals of their students' IEPs?
100%
89% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say they are satisfied with the IEP development process at this school?
100%
87% Citywide Average
How many special ed students graduate in 4 years?
70%
67% Citywide Average
For more information about our data sources, see About Our Data

Programs and Admissions

Academy for Young Writers
Admissions Method: Limited Unscreened
Program Description

Academics

Language Courses

Spanish

Advanced Placement (AP) courses

AP Computer Science, AP English, AP US Government and Politics

Sports

Boys PSAL teams

Basketball

Girls PSAL teams

Basketball

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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