Kingsborough Early College School
Brooklyn NY 11214
Students may get two years' college credit
Metal detectors in the building
Kingsborough Early College Secondary School (KECSS) is on a mission to help neighborhood students, many of whom enter performing below grade level, improve their academic skills and make it to college. To that end, KECSS students may take college courses at Kingsborough Community College and many graduate from high school with two years of college credit, prepared to do college level work.
The small school, serving grades 6-12, occupies the first floor and part of the basement of the Lafayette Educational Campus. Most students enter in the 6th grade, and there are very few seats for incoming 9th-graders. Students benefit from small classes, with fewer than 24 students in most middle school classrooms.
The school is part of the Early College Initiative at the City University of New York (CUNY), designed to better prepare students for college by exposing them to higher-level academics starting in middle school. Sixth- and 7th-graders take two periods of English every day to help prepare them for the rigors of college.
Principal Connie Hamilton, who founded the school in 2006, is "a very strong, very experienced leader," said Cass Conrad, an official with CUNY who offers support to the school. Teachers say Hamilton values good teaching and the school has high academic standards, according to annual surveys.
Rising 9th-graders participate in a required college-level health course during the summer before they enter the high school. It is the first of the dual credit courses offeredthose that provide college as well as high school credit. The summer course helps integrate the new arrivals with continuing KECSS students. Subsequent college courses can include mathematics, English, science, history, Spanish and sociology. All students take a college-level art class.
An advisory program provides social-emotional supports. Students have the same advisor for all of middle school and then are assigned a new advisor who stays with them through the 9th and 10th grades. In 11th grade, the focus shifts to checking transcripts to make sure all students are on track for graduation.
Friday mornings are set aside for academic catch-up and review. Afternoons are devoted to school-wide enrichment, electives and projects based on students' interests such as the school newspaper, music, knitting, studio art, chess, fashion design, yoga and robotics. Students also produce and stage musicals, such as "Newsies" in 2015. Many former students return to volunteer their time by helping with the enrichment clusters. Still more than one-third of the students on the annual survey complain that there are not enough activities to keep them interested. In high school, in particular, the heavy academic course load leaves little time for other activities.
Algebra is offered to one-third of the 8th-grade class. Selection is based on state test grades and class test scores.
In high school, students must complete a three-year math sequence and pass trigonometry. To graduate, they need to receive a minimum score of 80 on the algebra Regents and a minimum of 75 on the English Regents.
Ongoing dialogue with college professors has helped Kingsborough refine its program, offering college-level courses that are more specific in focus and truly seem to prepare students for higher education. Ninth- and 10th-grade courses, including college biology, are taken at the high school and are taught by Kingsborough College instructors. Tenth-graders are assigned college exploration research projects which they present to their peers. Qualifying 11th- and 12th-graders are shuttled to and from the college by bus, spending half of their day in the high school, and half at the college. They have access to the college aquarium, science labs, computer labs, library and playing fields.
Most graduates go on to one of the CUNY schools, where they enter with an associate degree, or enough credits to qualify as a transfer student. Other popular college choices include SUNYs, Long Island University, Saint John's University, Pennsylvania State University and Pacific Union College in California.
The Lafayette building is both a plus and a minus. On the positive side, students may take part in a wide array of building-wide sports, including football. The building is easily accessible by subway and bus. On the negative side, students must pass through metal detectors. One assistant principal oversees security for all the schools in the building, and they have staggered hours.Still, campus safety remains a concern: Responding to a school survey, nearly one-third of students say they don't feel safe on the property outside the building.
SPECIAL EDUCATION: The school offers ICT (integrated co-teaching) classes.
ADMISSIONS: Lottery for 6th grade. Open to students in districts 20, 21 and 31. Current 8th-graders get priority for high school, and there are few spaces for new 9th-graders. High school admission is based on a combination of middle school grades, attendance, state test scores and a recommendation from a middle school guidance counselor.(Eliana Mascio, March 2015)
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Programs and Admissions
Advanced Placement (AP) courses
Boys PSAL teams
Baseball, Basketball, Bowling, Cross Country, Football, Handball, Indoor Track, Outdoor Track, Soccer, Tennis, Volleyball, Wrestling
Girls PSAL teams
Badminton, Basketball, Bowling, Flag Football, Soccer, Softball, Table Tennis, Volleyball
Coed PSAL teams