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West Prep Academy
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Filmmaking and a marching band
West Prep Academy is one of the few middle schools on the Upper West Side that is unscreened, meaning it does not admit kids based on test scores, attendance or interviews. Perks here include a free after-school program, a marching band and an after-school film program.
Most children are behind in reading and math when they arrive, and more than one-third have special needs, but, according to an article in Chalkbeat, teachers do a good job helping them progress. The article goes on to say that the rate of student improvement on state math and reading tests at West Prep is about double that of schools with a similar population of students.
Teachers adjust lessons to meet the needs of faster and slower learners, the article shows. In an 8th-grade social studies class, some students were strong test takers performing on grade level. Others were from small special education classes. During a lesson about the Little Rock Nine, who integrated an Arkansas high school in 1957, the teacher gave some students a checklist of instructions and let others tackle the assignment independently.
Despite its tiny size, West Prep has a wide variety of extras. Children take part in electives once a week, on topics such as sign language, journalism, yearbook and art portfolio preparation. The work is celebrated in arts showcases twice a year. An after-school program operates five days a week until 5:30 p.m., and includes sports, arts, homework help and academic support.
A summer “bridge” program gives incoming 6th-graders the chance to make friends, meet their teachers and work on a media project.
Children are called “scholars” at West Prep, and they are required to wear purple and gray uniforms. Scholars who keep their grades up are invited to go rock climbing, skiing and snowboarding, among other activities.
Attendance could be stronger; more than one-fourth of the students miss 18 or more days of school, which may result in gaps in understanding as they miss lessons.
Founded in 2009 in shared space at MS 44, West Prep moved to its current quarters in 2011. It shares a building with PS 145. Former assistant principal Carland Washington became principal in 2014.
ADMISSIONS: Children in District 3 get preference, although there may be room for those who live out-of-district. (Lydie Raschka, web reports, May 2018)Read more