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Academy for Software Engineering (AFSE)

Grades: 9-12
Staff Pick
40 Irving Place
Manhattan NY 10003
Phone: 212-253-3299

Our Insights

What’s Special

Students learn computer programming; tech professionals mentor students; school day starts at 9 a.m.

The Downside

Shares a building with five other schools

The Academy for Software Engineering (AFSE), the city’s flagship computer science high school, delivers on its name, offering instruction in programing languages, web design, user experience, entrepreneurship, manufactuturing, 3-D computing and mobile application development.

The school does a good job of serving a range of students, offering support for everyone from struggling learners to advanced students who arrive having completed high school–level courses in algebra and living environment.

The vibe throughout the school is calm and friendly. In classes we visited, students were focused and teachers were enthusiastic; some employed fun ways to keep kids engaged. To keep a conversation going in one class, the teacher and students gently tossed a ball around from one speaker to the next, offering insightful comments along the way.

All students complete a four-year computer science sequence starting with an introductory class in 9th grade that focuses on the thinking and process of coding rather than learning a formal programming language. In addition to taking either regular algebra or geometry (depending on what they studied in 8th grade) all freshman also take a computational algebra class, which helps them translate their understanding of numerical concepts and equations into computer language by doing hands-on projects such as coding a video game.  

In the upper grades students have a choice depending on their interests. Those aspiring to become programmers can pursue a traditional computer science sequence with heavy emphasis on developing high-level math and programming skills. Students may also choose Design Tech, which involves coding too, but is more focused on creative applications in design and manufacturing.

Ninth-graders who arrive with solid algebra take geometry, which puts them on track to take calculus before graduation; others who gain momentum in math may do the same by skipping pre-calculus. History instruction starts in 10th grade with a one-year course in global history that covers the same curriculum that most high schools teach over two years. 

There’s a range of Advanced Placement courses and all students take AP Computer Science Principles in 10th grade; those who choose the programming path also take Advanced Placement Computer Science A (accelerated) in 11th grade.

Despite the heavy emphasis on programming, technology and math, there’s also a lot of focus on literature and writing. Senior English is a year-long writing intensive with units on documentary film, story telling and spoken word; we observed 9th-graders parsing and acting out scenes from Macbeth.

AFSE is part of the Mastery Collaborative, a network of roughly 40 public schools, including NYC iSchool, Staten Island Tech and NYC Lab School, that take a different approach to assessing student performance. Lessons and assignments focus heavily on student’s progress in specific skills. For instance, in global history, when writing a paper, students are assessed on their research skills and steps taken to build their analysis in addition to the quality of their writing and understanding of the content.

Classes run for an hour, longer than the typical 43-minute high school period, which allow teachers time to delve more deeply into lessons. One huge perk for tired teenagers: AFSE’s day starts at 9 a.m., so kids can wake up a bit later in the morning.

There are limited offerings beyond core academics and computer science. All students take music, playing a variety instruments including keyboards and electric guitars. Spanish instruction is offered for one year in the upper grades.

All students tackle challenging coursework that doesn’t strictly adhere to Advanced Regents diploma requirements. For instance, in addition to all the computer science, math and AP courses, students are taught Regents living environment and chemistry, but instead of taking Regents Physics, they take AP Biology or a class in anatomy and physiology.

The school’s graduation and college-readiness rates go well beyond the citywide average.

Students can participate in campus-wide sports teams. AFSE also offers a range of after-school activities such as drama and robotics. Students are encouraged to pitch ideas for clubs.

When we visited, the student body was roughly 80 percent male, reflecting a similar gender imbalance in the tech industry; the school wants to change both realities. During our visit, girls we met were happy at the school and at ease speaking up in class and working alongside boys. AFSE matches them with female mentors and offers access to some girls-only internship opportunities.

The school is divided into a lower (grades 9 and 10) and upper (grades 11 and 12) academy. Each academy has its own dedicated staff of teachers, who serve as advisers for that age group.

Formal college guidance starts in 11th grade during advisory periods and through iMentor, a program where each student is matched with a professional from tech or a related industry.

The school graduated its first class in 2016, and graduates have gone on to a range of colleges, including CUNY and SUNY schools as well as private universities such as Cornell and Notre Dame.

AFSE is housed on two floors in the Washington Irving Educational Complex, an old 13-story building near Manhattan's Union Square that is also home to Gramercy Arts High School; High School for Language and Diplomacy; International High School at Union Square; and Union Square Academy for Health Sciences. Success Academy Union Square, a charter elementary school, is also located in the building. 

The schools shares use of the cafeteria, gymnasiums, renovated library, science labs and on-site medical clinic. There is no outdoor space on campus. Students must pass through metal detectors to enter the building.

SPECIAL EDUCATION: The school has integrated co-teaching (ICT) classes and Special Education Teacher Support Services (SETSS).

ADMISSIONS:  Unscreened. Students are admitted based on a lottery. (Laura Zingmond, February 2018)

Read more

School Stats

Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

Is this school safe and well-run?

From 2018-19 NYC School Survey

How many teachers say order and discipline are maintained at this school?
75% Citywide Average
How many students say they feel safe in the hallways, bathrooms and locker rooms?
86% Citywide Average
How many students think bullying happens most or all of the time at this school?
37% Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?
79% Citywide Average
How many teachers say they would recommend this school to other families?
80% Citywide Average

From 2017-18 NY State Report Card

How many students were suspended?
2% Citywide Average

From this school's most recent Quality Review Report

Are teachers effective?

From 2018-19 School Quality Guide

How many teachers have 3 or more years of experience teaching?
76% Citywide Average
Years of principal experience at this school

How do students perform academically?

From 2018-19 School Quality Guide

How many students graduate in 4 years?
82% Citywide Average
How many students graduate with test scores high enough to enroll at CUNY without remedial help?
48% Citywide Average
How many students take a college-level course or earn a professional certificate?
41% Citywide Average
How many graduates stay enrolled in college for at least 3 semesters?
67% Citywide Average

Who does this school serve?

From 2019-20 Demographic Snapshot

Free or reduced priced lunch
Students with disabilities
English language learners

From 2018-19 School Quality Guide

How many students miss 18 or more days of school?
38% Citywide Average

How does this school serve special populations?

From 2018-19 School Quality Guide

How many students with disabilities graduate in 4 years?
66% Citywide Average

For more information about our data sources, see About Our Data · More DOE statistics for this school

Programs & Admissions

From the 2021 High School Directory

Academy for Software Engineering (AFSE)
Admissions Method: Open
Program Description:

AFSE offers experiences that build capacity to solve problems, collaborate, engage in research, and expand awareness of careers through work-based experiences and professional mentoring.


Language Courses

French, Spanish

Advanced Placement (AP) courses

AP English Literature and Composition, AP Biology, AP United States History, AP Computer Science Principles, AP Calculus AB, AP Computer Science A, AP English Language and Composition


Boys PSAL teams

Baseball, Basketball, Handball, Soccer, Volleyball

Girls PSAL teams

Basketball, Softball, Volleyball

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

Contact & Location


Gramercy (District 2)
Trains: 4 Line, 5 Line, 6 Line, L Line, N Line, Q Line, R Line, W Line to 14th St-Union Square
Buses: BM1, BM2, BM3, BM4, BxM10, BxM6, BxM7, BxM8, BxM9, M1, M101, M102, M103, M14A, M14D, M15, M15-SBS, M2, M23-SBS, M3, M34-SBS, M34A-SBS, M55, M8, M9, QM21, X1, X10, X10B, X12, X14, X17, X2, X27, X28, X37, X38, X42, X5, X63, X64, X68, X7, X9


Shawn Raeke
Parent Coordinator
Ashley Cameron

Other Details

Shared campus?
This school shares the Washington Irving Educational Campus with five other schools
Metal detectors?

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