John Adams High School

Grades 9-12
Marquee homepage

What’s Special

Small learning communities, innovative efforts to improve school culture

The Downside

School still has a way to go

Our Review

For years, John Adams High School teetered on the brink of closure and struggled to attract students. Its administration and faculty now believe the worst is behind them and see the school gradually rebounding, thanks to stronger academics, new programs and a more welcoming environment.

Signs of progress: The graduation rate jumped from less than 55 percent 2014 to nearly 62 percent in 2015. Attendance improved in the 2015-16 school year. Most important, in 2016, the state removed Adams from the list of schools threatened with state-takeover.

In fall 2016, in hopes of attracting stronger students, Adams launched a selective program featuring the International Baccalaureate, a challenging curriculum that stresses student projects.

Principal Daniel Scanlon came to the school in 2013 after serving as an assistant principal at Hillcrest High School and launched a review of everything going on in the building, followed by a major turnaround plan that school administrators say will take five years to implement.

Staff learned from student feedback that many children did not want to be at Adams, which Scanlon himself described as having been punitive and drab. That has led to such changes as the offering of research electives where students work on topics of their own choosing, and installing game tables in the cafeteria to relieve boredom at lunch. While rates of chronic absenteeism remain high, attendance is increasing.

To improve discipline, Adams has implemented Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports (PBIS), which focuses on rewarding and reinforcing positive actions. (For a prize-winning video by Adams students that came out of this approach, visit the school website.) School officials say the program has slashed suspension by 80 percent in the last three years.

The building retains an institutional feel, but is now enlivened by student murals which decorate many hallways. Adams has a health clinic operated by North Shore LIJ health network. Adams has added more sport teams, such as golf, lacrosse and badminton.

Adams now is divided into a number of "small learning communities" at each with its own teachers, guidance counselor, dean and designated area of the building. With the communities, the school hopes to provide students with the variety of programs and activities they would get in a large school along with the sense of community and individualized attention they would find in a small one. There are learning communities for English language learners and for seniors who need an extra boost to graduate on time.

Most of the communities, though, are geared to a particular theme and offer electives in that area. S.T.E.M. and Art History and Fine Arts screen students for admission, as does the International Baccalaureate, which will have its own learning community in 2017. Adams also has programs in environment and science, law, health careers, media and communication and business and has started an Air Force ROTC that has attracted a fair amount of interest. A new career and technical education offering focuses on computers, giving students the opportunity to build their own computers.

"We want to try to make opportunities available to kids," Scanlon said. "We're trying to find something for every student."

Adams has many English language learners, including students who speak Spanish, Bengali and Urdu and has a large Bengali program. It also has many young people over-age for their grade. "We try not to focus on the negative," Assistant Principal Scott Silverman said. "We need to figure out what's going on emotionally" with students who act out or who have struggled "and support them and empower them." The school tracks students to quickly detect who is faltering academically or failing to come to school. Different levels of interventions then come into play.

Adams offers college credit courses in conjunction with York College and also gives Advanced Placement classes. In an AP Spanish class we visited, students worked intently, drafting an essay in Spanish about social media.

SPECIAL EDUCATION: Adams offers a range of services and supports, including self-contained and ICT (integrated co-teaching) classes.

ADMISSIONS: Criteria vary among the learning communities, with some screened programs and others using the educational option method, which seeks to ensure admission to students with a range of academic abilities. There is also a zoned program for students living in the area. Given a shortage of applicants, most students who apply to the education option programs will be admitted. (Gail Robinson, March 2015, updated March 2016)

About the students

Enrollment
2215
Asian
33.7%
Black
22.4%
Hispanic
34.8%
White
3.3%
Other
5.8%
Free or reduced priced lunch
80%
Students with disabilities
16%
English language learners
19%
Male
56%

About the school

Shared campus?
No
This school is in its own building.
Uniforms required?
No
Metal detectors?
Yes
How crowded? (Full is 100%)
103%
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

Attendance

Average daily attendance
85%
85% Citywide Average
How many students are chronically absent?
43%
42% Citywide Average

Is this school safe?

How many teachers say order and discipline are maintained at this school?
61%
76% Citywide Average
How many students think bullying happens most or all of the time at this school?
27%
18% Citywide Average
How many students say they feel safe in the hallways, bathrooms and locker rooms?
70%
84% Citywide Average
How many students say most students treat each other with respect?
38%
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?
70%
77% Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal has a clear vision for this school?
87%
83% Citywide Average
How many teachers trust the principal?
69%
78% Citywide Average

About the teachers

How many teachers have 3 or more years of experience teaching?
85%
73% Citywide Average
Teacher attendance
96%
97% Citywide Average
How many teachers say they would recommend this school to other families?
67%
79% Citywide Average
How many teachers think the staff collaborate to make this school run effectively?
73%
84% Citywide Average
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

Arts offerings

This school has 3 dedicated spaces for Visual arts and a Film Studio
This school has 15 licensed arts teachers in Visual arts (part-time), Music, and Theater

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?
38%
49% Citywide Average
How many students say the programs, classes and activities here encourage them to develop talent outside academics?
68%
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?
66%
77% Citywide Average
How many graduates earn Advanced Regents diplomas?
6%
11% Citywide Average
How many students drop out?
16%
10% Citywide Average

Are students prepared for college?

How many students graduate with test scores high enough to enroll at CUNY without remedial help?
22%
32% Citywide Average
How many students take a college-level course or earn a professional certificate?
36%
41% Citywide Average
How many graduate and enter college within 18 months?
44%
63% 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?
48%
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?
51%
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?
88%
90% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say they are satisfied with the IEP development process at this school?
88%
89% Citywide Average
How many special ed students graduate in 4 years?
51%
60% Citywide Average
For more information about our data sources, see About Our Data

Programs and Admissions

Environmental and Science Investigative Institute
Admissions Method: Ed. Opt.
Program Description

Prepares students for careers in engineering, science research, and the environment. Students can take courses in science research, environmental science, and anatomy.

Law and International Studies Institute
Admissions Method: Ed. Opt.
Program Description

Prepares students for careers in social sciences, law, and international relations. Students will participate in Model UN, Moot Court, and Mock Trial.

Medical and Fitness Careers
Admissions Method: Ed. Opt.
Program Description

Includes approved curricula in Medical Laboratory Assisting and a new curricula in Sports Medicine.

Media & Communication Arts Institute
Admissions Method: Ed. Opt.
Program Description

Prepares students for careers in journalism, video production, studio recording, writing, theater, and fine arts. Students will participate in the school paper, yearbook, play productions, and the literary magazine.

Business Institute
Admissions Method: Ed. Opt.
Program Description

Prepares students for careers in business and computer science. Students will participate in Virtual Enterprise, Co-Op Tech and internships.

S.T.E.M. Academy
Admissions Method: Screened
Program Description

Students have the opportunity to learn a diverse set of computer, engineering, robotics, and research skills. Students participate in competitions throughout the year and are prepared to sit for a proficiency exam to earn industry certification.

Art History & Fine Arts
Admissions Method: Screened
Program Description

There are three tracks to the fine arts program: art history (includes visual arts), theater, and technical music. Students take the three-year Art Regents exam. Music students also have the opportunity to participate in New York State School Music Association (NYSSMA) activities while developing their instrumental and vocal skills.

Zoned
Admissions Method: Zoned Guarantee
Program Description

Academics

Language Courses

American Sign Language, Bengali, Hindi, Spanish

Advanced Placement (AP) courses

AP Biology, AP Chemistry, AP English, AP Environmental Science, AP Music Theory, AP Physics, AP Spanish, AP US Government and Politics, AP US History

Sports

Boys PSAL teams

Baseball, Basketball, Bowling, Football, Handball, Indoor Track, Outdoor Track, Soccer, Swimming, Tennis, Volleyball

Girls PSAL teams

Badminton, Basketball, Bowling, Flag Football, Golf, Handball, Indoor Track, Lacrosse, Outdoor Track, Soccer, Softball, Swimming, Volleyball

Coed PSAL teams

Cricket

Read about admissions, academics, and more at this school on the NYCDOE’s School Finder
NYC Department of Education: School Finder

  • Give specific examples. Tell us why this school rocks (or doesn't).
  • Criticism is fine, but no profanity, racist or ethnic slurs, or personal attacks.
  • All users must comply with our Terms of Use.