Accepts students of all skill levels and prepares them for college
Emphasis on group work may not be for everyone
At Brooklyn Collaborative Studies, teachers encourage children to explore their own interests, to do independent research and to write the kind of long papers they'll need to do in college. The school has a good track record with a broad range of students and is especially good at helping struggling students persevere in middle school to prepare for the rigors of high school and higher education.
The tone of the school is informal in the tradition of progressive schools. Students address the principal and teachers by their first names. Class size is small. Students are encouraged to talk, lead and debate. Projects are the norm. Students lead their own conferences to update parents on their progress. BCS focuses on how students treat one another; when there is a disagreement, gossip or hurt feelings, staffers lead students, their families and advocates in a restorative circle that allows all voices to be heard.
Part of the NYC Outward Bound Schools network, which follows the EL Education approach (formerly expeditionary learning), BCS begins with a camping trip in sixth and ninth grades to help kids bond and learn to work and struggle together. In eleventh grade, they may participate in internships at a law firm, the zoo, or a local television station.
Fieldwork is a core component of EL Education. Every other Thursday, children fan out across the city to do research, meet experts and vsit museums. Children visited the city's many green roofs, for example, and toured the Brooklyn Co-Gen Plant in the Navy Yard to learn how electricity and steam are generated in New York City.
Instead of taking Regents exams in high school, children must complete four Performance-Based Assessment Tasks (PBATs) for which they propose a topic, conduct independent research, and write an 8 to 10 page (or longer) paper, which they publicly defend to a panel. About one-third of the students have special needs at BCS; these teens are given extra assistance as they research and write up their PBATs.
Every student belongs to an advisory group called a "crew," that meets daily. In addition to supporting each other, they do an annual service project together, such as cleaning a beach or visiting a senior center to play games with residents.
State test scores for middle school are below the citywide average, which Chan attributes to the wide range of academic skills students bring, and the fact that more than three-quarters of all students "opt out" of standardized tests in middle school.
"Our school believes in multiple opportunities and formats to show mastery," Chan said. "The more years a student is with us, the more immersed they are in our college bound culture—thus resulting in a high college-readiness rate for high school." Indeed, most children are ready for college work by the time they graduate, according to city data.
In the classroom, children work almost entirely in groups and present their work to older students and parents who act as evaluators. Some parents express frustration that their child has to work in a group "and can't just forge ahead on the task individually," Chan said.
Even so, about 75 percent of the 8th graders stay for high school. High school students looking for additional challenge, and to earn college credits, may participate in the College Now program on Saturdays at the CUNY-City Tech campus.
BCS was founded in 2001 as the upper school for Brooklyn New School and it shares a large, century-old building with that popular progressive elementary school. BCS has an after school program run by the YWCA each night until 6 pm. The campus library has a teen section popular with students all day long, including before school and during lunch. The two schools co-host the Applefest in the fall and the International Food Festival in the spring.
BCS has a strong record of college admissions as well as college retention. All high school students go on at least one college visit a year. Graduates have attended Colby, Skidmore, Bard, Hampshire and Cornell. Some 83 percent of BCS students who begin college are still enrolled three semesters later, a figure that is much higher than other schools with similar students. Chan attributes this to the schools success in preparing students for the responsibility and self-direction required of them in their post-secondary work.
ADMISSIONS: As part of a district-wide equity plan, all District 15 middle schools use an open admissions method with priority for 52 percent of seats going to students from low-income households (who qualify for the federal free and reduced-price lunch program), students in temporary housing, and English Language Learners. To learn more about the D15 Diversity Plan, visit d15diversityplan.com. The high school is part of the DOE Diversity in Admissions Pilot, which gives priority for 52 percent of 9th grade seats to students from low-income households, students in temporary housing and English Language Learners. (Lydie Raschka, DOE data & principal interview, June 2018; updated via email correspondence, August 2020).
Safety & Vibe
Faculty & Staff
CalculusNot offered in 2019-20
Computer ScienceNot offered in 2019-20
Advanced Foreign LanguageNot offered in 2019-20
AP/IB Arts, English, History or Social ScienceNot offered in 2019-20
AP/IB Math or ScienceNot offered in 2019-20
Programs & AdmissionsFrom the 2021 High School Directory
Brooklyn Collaborative Studies
Students write frequently in all their classes. Teachers use critique protocols to improve understanding of the qualities of good writing. In all content areas, writing is used to deepen understanding, promote reflection, and synthesize what students know. We expect students to work in groups and exhibit habits of scholarship and character, like collaboration, kindness and persistence. We have a partnership with NYC Outward Bound Schools, EL Education, and the Performance Standards Consortium.
OfferingsFrom the 2021 High School Directory
Contact & Location
610 Henry Street
Brooklyn NY 11231
Trains: , to Carroll St
Buses: B57, B61, X12, X14, X17, X17A, X19, X3, X31, X42, X5, X8, X9
This school shares the building with PS 146