Democracy Prep Charter Middle School

Grades 6-8
Staff Pick
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Location

2230 5 Avenue
Manhattan NY 10037
Harlem (District 5)

Contact

Phone
212-281-1248
Principal
Tanya Nunez/Natasha Trivers

What’s Special

Korean language offered in a structured and supportive environment

The Downside

Strict rules dont appeal to everyone

Our Review

Democracy Prep Charter is a structured and challenging school where students learn Korean and take part in a variety of field trips. This combined middle and high school emphasizes civic engagement and encourages students to work hard and to go to college to change the world.

Like the other schools in the Democracy Prep network, the school has an extended day, clear rules and high expectations. Students move from class to class in straight, silent lines, wearing full uniforms. Students are called citizen-scholars. Each grade level is known by the year they will graduate from college (not eighth grade but the class of 2020.)

The middle school shares a building with PS 197 and the high school shares a building with PS 92 at 222 W. 134th Street.

Middle school students take three hours of English, two hours of math, and one hour of social studies and science every day. Teachers guide students seamlessly from one activity to the next, sometimes using a countdown during transitions. For the most part, desks are arranged in pairs facing the front of the classroom. While elements of the curriculum are traditional, middle school students may take a variety of nontraditional classes called Find Your Passion that cover topics such as Tai-chi and lacrosse.

High school students also take three hours of English, two hours of math, and one hour of social studies and science each day, plus a class on Korean language and culturethe only foreign language offered. High school classrooms are set up to facilitate greater class discussion, and the tone of classes is less structured and more mature than in the middle school. In one class, students discussed the historical and political context of the music of artists like James Brown and B.B. King. In a chemistry class, students seemed to be covering advanced material with a focus on performing well on the Regents exam.

The schools values, summarized by the acronym DREAM (standing for Discipline, Respect, Enthusiasm, Accountability, and Maturity), are posted throughout the school and are honored by students and staff alike. Students earn and lose DREAM Dollars based on their behavior and academic performance and can use their dollars to participate in a variety of activities and field trips. During the time of our visit, a group of students were on a field trip in South Korea, where they were investigating the 2012 presidential election.

While the structured environment is a defining feature of the Democracy Prep schools, the strict rules do not appeal to everybody. Democracy Prep has had one of the top ten highest attrition rates of New York City charter schools. Any student can thrive at Democracy Prep, but you have to be able to work in a structured environment, explained External Affairs Associate, Amara Sillah.

The focus on citizenship and democracy is reflected in a variety of activities. In 2008, the high school hosted the largest inauguration party in Harlem, and in 2012, they hosted an Election Day event attended by students and over 100 parents. A group of middle school students traveled to Columbus, Ohio before the election to attend an event hosted by the Obama campaign. Additionally, during election season students also participated in a Get out the vote campaign where they helped Harlem residents identify where they should go to vote.

The school day is between 7:45 am and 4:15 pm, but many students don't leave until 6:15pm due to tutoring, extra-curricular activities, a proctored study-hall, and detention. Extracurricular activities include sports, choir, dance, student government, storytelling, and Korean mask dance among other diverse activities.

Special education: Democracy Prep actively recruits students with special needs, with almost a quarter of incoming 6th grade students having special needs. Students with special needs are integrated into general education classrooms through the ICT model. School founder, Seth Andrews, who had a learning disability as a child, said that the school was designed with the needs of special education students in mind.

College admissions: The school has two college guidance counselors and a director of the college guidance office. The school sponsors college visits and had a 100% acceptance rate for its first senior class.

Admissions: By lottery with priority given to students from District 5 and to siblings of enrolled students. Most students are admitted in the 6th grade, but Democracy Prep accepts new students at every grade level, depending on the number of spaces available. Most middle school students continue on to the high school. The wait list for interested students is generally over 1,000 students long. (Pauline Zaldonis, November 2012)

About the students

Enrollment
719
Asian
0.6%
Black
65.4%
Hispanic
31.2%
White
1.0%
Other
2.0%
Free or reduced priced lunch
78%
Students with disabilities
17%
English language learners
3%

About the school

Shared campus?
Yes
This school shares the building with PS 197
Metal detectors?
No
How crowded? (Full is 100%)
117%
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

Attendance

Average daily attendance
87%
93% Citywide Average
How many students are chronically absent?
12%
20% Citywide Average

Is this school safe?

How many teachers say order and discipline are maintained at this school?
100%
77% Citywide Average
How many students think bullying happens most or all of the time at this school?
12%
28% Citywide Average
How many students say they feel safe in the hallways, bathrooms and locker rooms?
92%
82% Citywide Average
How many students say most students treat each other with respect?
51%
43% Citywide Average

About the leadership

How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?
100%
82% Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal has a clear vision for this school?
100%
88% Citywide Average
How many teachers trust the principal?
99%
82% Citywide Average

About the teachers

How many teachers say they would recommend this school to other families?
99%
81% Citywide Average
How many teachers think the staff collaborate to make this school run effectively?
100%
86% 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?
64%
27% Citywide Average
How many students scored 3-4 on the state ELA exam?
37%
30% Citywide Average

Engaging curriculum?

How many students say this school offers enough programs, classes and activities to keep them interested?
72%
75% Citywide Average
How many students say they are challenged in most or all of their classes?
67%
56% Citywide Average
How many students say the programs, classes and activities here encourage them to develop talent outside academics?
71%
72% Citywide Average

Are students prepared for high school?

How many 8th graders earn high school credit?
26%
26% Citywide Average
How many graduates of this school pass all their classes in 9th grade?
76%
84% Citywide Average
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

How does this school serve students with disabilities?

Average math score for ICT students
2.44
1.9 Citywide Average
Average math score for self-contained students
2.85
2.1 Citywide Average
Average ELA score for ICT students
2.2
1.9 Citywide Average
Average ELA score for self-contained students
2.43
2.2 Citywide Average
Average math score for SETSS students
2.85
2.3 Citywide Average
Average ELA score for SETSS students
2.54
2.3 Citywide Average
How many students say that students with disabilities are included in all activities?
58%
67% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say this school offers enough activities and services for their children's needs?
82%
88% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say this school works to achive the goals of their students' IEPs?
88%
91% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say they are satisfied with the IEP development process at this school?
86%
90% Citywide Average
How many special ed students graduate in 4 years?
80%
93% Citywide Average
For more information about our data sources, see About Our Data
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