KIPP Washington Heights Middle School
Manhattan NY 10032
Strong academics in a charter that is part of a successful network
Classrooms are a little bare
KIPP Washington Heights Middle School, part of a successful network of charter schools that emphasize character development,opened with a 5th grade in 2012 in the former IS 90 building. Graduates may attend KIPP NYC College Prep High School.
The school has a calm and gentle tone. No teachers raised their voices during our visit, and children seemed happy, relaxed and engaged. The school does a good job helping children who begin 5th grade with weak academic skills catch up and get ready for demanding high schools.
Children spend part of the day in tiny classes with just seven children and part of the day working on computers in classes of 50 or more. The arrangement allows teachers to give small groups of children focused attention, improving their reading and math skills.
The day is broken up into sessions of reading, writing and math. Science and social studies are taught as part of the reading curriculum in which children read nonfiction books. This means a large part of the day is devoted to improving reading, which research shows takes more effort than improving math.
For kids who are really behind in math and reading, it takes a lot more time to catch up in reading,said Principal Danny Swersky.
Unlike some other charters, the administration of KIPP works hard to get along with the other schools in the building, MS 319 and MS 324. Space is shared amicably: The KIPPsters have lunch in the cafeteria mid-morning, allowing the other children to eat at a more normal lunch time.
The building is clean and well-lit. Some of the classrooms were a bit bare and without many books. But computers and other supplies seemed ample.
The school prides itself on retaining students, including those with academic or behavior problems. One child who was suspended was allowed to return if his family agreed to let him attend counseling sessions three times a week. There is a full-time social worker.
Special education: KIPP offers counseling, speech therapy, occupational therapy and special education student support services (SETSS).
Admissions: Students are admitted by lottery with a preference to those living in District 6. Submit applications by April 1. (Clara Hemphill, June 2014)