Academy of American Studies

Grades 9-12
Staff Pick
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What’s Special

Lots of history-oriented field trips and engaging lessons.

The Downside

Few sports and cramped quarters.

Our Review

On a rainy day in May, students file into the former sewing machine factory that houses half of the Academy of American Studies. The teens are noticeably polite as they greet their principal, remove hats and earplugs, fold down umbrellas and funnel calmly into a hallway as narrow as two single file lines.

For the most part, students don't seem to mind the cramped quarters. "It's small," said a junior, "but we get more attention." They also get to take history-oriented trips: to Plymouth, Massachusetts when they study the colonial period, to Boston to walk the freedom trail, to Washington D.C. to see the Constitution, and to Gettysburg, for a unit on the Civil War. Even during school, movement is a feature of many lessons. "Do I look like a pilgrim?" asked a girl, in a long black skirt and a white scarf, ready to act out a scene from the Crucible. "We bring history to life," said assistant principal Mark Solkoff.

The school was founded in 1996 with support from The Gilder Lehrman Institute, a foundation that seeks to bolster the study of American history in public schools.

In addition to trips and skits, history is explored through student-made posters, timelines and charts. Much more than textbooks, students use original source documents, art, letters and political cartoons from the period. They read memoirs, graphic novels and watch films. Trips are not always directly related to history. In the journalism class, students had a chance to visit the New York Times printing plant and to sit in on an editorial meeting at People Magazine.

Students come from all over the world, and they are motivated and articulate about their goals. "I'm going to the University of Buffalo to study Biomedical Science," said a senior. Although science and math are not a major focus at the school, there are limited Advanced Placement offerings in both. The school has a range of clubs that foster leadership and self-expression - Student Government, Debate, Eagles in the Morning (a radio team), College Discovery, and Improvisational Theater.

Those with special needs are integrated and also have a voice. Skits are a good way for everyone to feel like a part of things, said a co-teacher in one of the Integrated Co-Teaching classes, which have a mix of general and special needs students. In geometry, a blind child calculated the mid-point of a triangle, like her sighted peers, but she used Braille shapes created by her unobtrusive adult assistant. Students can get extra tutoring help during and after school.

William Bassel became principal in 2011 after many years as principal of Long Island City High School. He plans to expand the number of Advanced Placement courses and is an advocate of infusing art into academics. Teachers said there is more structure under his leadership - no visible hats, cell phones, or iPods, and more formalized teacher meetings.

The school has two campuses separated by a quiet residential street. Rooms in the south campus feel packed and can get warm - although noisy air conditioners help - and hallways, offices and classrooms have pockets of clutter. In fall 2012, Academy students will have access to science labs and more space in the north campus, a building they share with Newcomer's High School. Only seniors are allowed to go out for lunch but on nice weather days everyone has access to a large asphalt yard with handball and basketball courts. There are seven sports teams. The Newcomers band is campus-wide.

College admissions: College representatives visit the school. SAT test prep is offered in the spring. Many graduates attend CUNY and SUNY schools, Syracuse, Boston, NYU, and Penn State, among others.

Admissions: The school admits three-quarters of students via the educational option method, a formula designed to attract a mix of high and low achieving students in which half of the students are selected by computer, the other half by the school. The remaining one-quarter of the students is chosen based on their grades and test scores. Tours are offered in the fall. (Lydie Raschka, May 2012)

About the students

Enrollment
999
Asian
29.4%
Black
6.4%
Hispanic
32.5%
White
31.2%
Other
0.4%
Free or reduced priced lunch
69%
Students with disabilities
9%
English language learners
4%
Male
42%

About the school

Shared campus?
Yes
This school shares a building with Newcomers High School
Uniforms required?
No
Metal detectors?
No
How crowded? (Full is 100%)
161%
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

Attendance

Average daily attendance
94%
85% Citywide Average
How many students are chronically absent?
16%
42% Citywide Average

Is this school safe?

How many teachers say order and discipline are maintained at this school?
76%
77% Citywide Average
How many students think bullying happens most or all of the time at this school?
31%
37% Citywide Average
How many students say they feel safe in the hallways, bathrooms and locker rooms?
89%
85% Citywide Average
How many students say most students treat each other with respect?
71%
57% Citywide Average

About the leadership

Years of principal experience at this school
4.8
5.3 Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?
66%
80% Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal has a clear vision for this school?
70%
85% Citywide Average
How many teachers trust the principal?
60%
80% Citywide Average

About the teachers

How many teachers have 3 or more years of experience teaching?
88%
73% Citywide Average
Teacher attendance
96%
97% Citywide Average
How many teachers say they would recommend this school to other families?
85%
81% Citywide Average
How many teachers think the staff collaborate to make this school run effectively?
72%
86% Citywide Average
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

Arts offerings

This school has 0 dedicated spaces for the arts.
This school has 1 licensed art teacher in Music

Engaging curriculum?

How many students say this school offers enough programs, classes and activities to keep them interested?
71%
72% Citywide Average
How many students say they are challenged in most or all of their classes?
52%
54% Citywide Average
How many students say the programs, classes and activities here encourage them to develop talent outside academics?
66%
71% 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?
91%
77% Citywide Average
How many graduates earn Advanced Regents diplomas?
35%
11% Citywide Average
How many students drop out?
2%
10% Citywide Average

Are students prepared for college?

How many students graduate with test scores high enough to enroll at CUNY without remedial help?
64%
32% Citywide Average
How many students take a college-level course or earn a professional certificate?
91%
41% Citywide Average
How many graduate and enter college within 18 months?
88%
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?
71%
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?
64%
68% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say this school offers enough activities and services for their children's needs?
81%
87% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say this school works to achive the goals of their students' IEPs?
86%
91% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say they are satisfied with the IEP development process at this school?
77%
90% Citywide Average
How many special ed students graduate in 4 years?
64%
60% Citywide Average
For more information about our data sources, see About Our Data

Programs and Admissions

Academy of American Studies
Admissions Method: Ed. Opt.
Program Description

A challenging program focusing on American History throughout all four grades.

Intensive Academic Humanities
Admissions Method: Screened
Program Description

Integrates literature, history and art with a focus on writing.

Academics

Language Courses

French, Spanish

Advanced Placement (AP) courses

AP Economics, AP English, AP Environmental Science, AP Human Geography, AP Spanish, AP US Government and Politics, AP US History

Sports

Boys PSAL teams

Baseball, Basketball, Bowling, Cross Country, Soccer, Volleyball

Girls PSAL teams

Basketball, Bowling, Cross Country, Flag Football, Soccer, Softball, Volleyball

Coed PSAL teams

Stunt

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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