ACORN Community High School

Grades 9-12

What’s Special

Winning debate team; engaging, culturally relevant lessons

The Downside

Poor attendance

Our Review

ACORN Community High School has a strong debate team that routinely wins tournaments. It is part of the city’s Expanded Success Initiative, which aims to encourage black and Latino young men to attend college. Teachers design culturally relevant lessons and projects and students participate in special events such as the Male Youth Empowerment Symposium. 

Despite its strengths, the school faces challenges. Enrollment has declined significantly in recent years; many students are chronically absent (more than 10 percent of the school year) and struggle to graduate with strong enough skills to avoid taking remedial courses at CUNY colleges. 

Incoming students choose between programs emphasizing law or science. Partnerships with outside organizations such as the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Theater Development Fund, Brooklyn Museum and SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry help expand offerings and provide additional layers of support for students. Additionally, students may earn college credit by taking Advanced Placement classes at the school or free classes at Medgar Evers College and Long Island University.

ACORN was praised in its Quality Review for establishing “a culture of elevated expectations.” Lessons emphasize discussions and analysis of topics; students are expected to complete lengthy projects in addition to preparing to pass their Regents exams. Teachers and staff also find ways to design culturally relevant instruction and assignments to engage students, according to a report by the Research Alliance for New York City Schools at New York University. For instance, teachers assign books such as The Kite Runner, The Women of Brewster Place and The Skin I'm In, as well as plays such as Fences by August Wilson. In a math class, students designed architectural structures based on buildings familiar to them, such as the Barclays Center. A study group of 11th- and 12th-graders led by a guidance counselor tackled Ron Suskind's book A Hope in the Unseen: An American Odyssey from the Inner City to the Ivy League through shared readings and discussions.

The school is very small, which allows teachers and staff to get to know students very well. There’s also a lot of experience among the teachers, with almost all of them having taught at least three years. Teachers also give high marks to longtime principal Andrea Piper, who has led the school since 2009 but started at ACORN in 1999 as a health and science teacher.

Opened in 1996 at the site of a former T-shirt factory, ACORN was founded in partnership with the now-defunct community organizing association of the same name. Though the ACORN organization no longer exists, the school continues its founding social justice theme through programs such as Breaking Walls, an organization that connects youth around the world through theater and writing and provides opportunities for international travel.

A program called AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) provides intensive support and coursework as well as mentoring to middle-performing students to ensure they stay on track for college. Most ACORN graduates attend either two- or four-year CUNY colleges, though some go on to SUNY as well as private colleges.

SPECIAL EDUCATION: The school has self-contained classes only for students with special needs, but whenever possible, students are placed in ICT (integrated collaborative team teaching classes). 

ADMISSIONS: Priority to Brooklyn students. Admissions is based on the educational option formula, which aims for a mix of low- average- and high-achieving students. (Laura Zingmond, web reports, April 2018; photo courtesy of Department of Education)

About the students

Enrollment
262
Asian
1.9%
Black
79.4%
Hispanic
14.9%
White
2.7%
Other
1.2%
Free or reduced priced lunch
79%
Students with disabilities
29%
English language learners
5%
Male
55%

About the school

Shared campus?
No
This school is in its own building.
Metal detectors?
No
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

Attendance

Average daily attendance
80%
87% Citywide Average
How many students are chronically absent?
53%
37% Citywide Average

Is this school safe?

How many teachers say order and discipline are maintained at this school?
85%
77% Citywide Average
How many students think bullying happens most or all of the time at this school?
39%
37% Citywide Average
How many students say they feel safe in the hallways, bathrooms and locker rooms?
83%
85% Citywide Average
How many students say most students treat each other with respect?
46%
57% Citywide Average

About the leadership

Years of principal experience at this school
7.0
5.8 Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?
93%
80% Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal has a clear vision for this school?
100%
85% Citywide Average
How many teachers trust the principal?
92%
80% Citywide Average

About the teachers

How many teachers have 3 or more years of experience teaching?
100%
74% Citywide Average
Teacher attendance
96%
97% Citywide Average
How many teachers say they would recommend this school to other families?
84%
81% Citywide Average
How many teachers think the staff collaborate to make this school run effectively?
92%
86% Citywide Average
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

Arts offerings

This school has 1 dedicated space for Visual 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?
35%
72% Citywide Average
How many students say they are challenged in most or all of their classes?
41%
54% Citywide Average
How many students say the programs, classes and activities here encourage them to develop talent outside academics?
52%
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?
74%
77% Citywide Average
How many graduates earn Advanced Regents diplomas?
2%
13% Citywide Average
How many students drop out?
8%
10% Citywide Average

Are students prepared for college?

How many students graduate with test scores high enough to enroll at CUNY without remedial help?
25%
37% Citywide Average
How many students take a college-level course or earn a professional certificate?
24%
38% Citywide Average
How many graduate and enter college within 18 months?
41%
60% Citywide Average
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the 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?
74%
68% Citywide Average
How many special ed students graduate in 4 years?
59%
59% Citywide Average
For more information about our data sources, see About Our Data

Programs and Admissions

Law and Leadership Institute
Admissions Method: Ed. Opt.
Program Description

Students study the art of public speaking and persuasion, and take introductory courses in debate, law/ethics, and public policy.

Science and Health Institute
Admissions Method: Ed. Opt.
Program Description

Students will be provided with rigorous preparatory courses in the fields of medical science and health.

Academics

Language Courses

Spanish

Advanced Placement (AP) courses

AP Environmental Science

Sports

Boys PSAL teams

Basketball, Cross Country, Football, Handball, Indoor Track, Outdoor Track, Soccer, Tennis, Volleyball

Girls PSAL teams

Basketball, Cross Country, Flag Football, Handball, Indoor Track, Outdoor Track, Volleyball

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

  • Give specific examples. Tell us why this school rocks (or doesn't).
  • Criticism is fine, but no profanity, racist or ethnic slurs, or personal attacks.
  • All users must comply with our Terms of Use.

Location

561 Grand Avenue
Brooklyn NY 11238
Crown Heights (District 13)
Trains: 2, 3 to Eastern Parkway-Brooklyn Museum; C to Franklin Ave; F, S to Park Place
Buses: B25, B26, B44, B44-SBS, B45, B48, B49, B52, B65, B69

Contact

Phone
718-789-2258
Principal
Andrea Piper
Parent Coordinator
Maxine Mcadoo Lovell