Science, Technology and Research Early College High School at Erasmus (STAR)
Students take courses at Brooklyn College; CTE program in electrical engineering
Pace of academics may be too much for some.
The Science, Technology and Research Early College School at Erasmus (STAR) is a combined middle and high school that gives students a leg up on college. Junior and seniors take courses for free at Brooklyn College with many earning at least a years worth of college credits before graduation. The school has a pleasant environment, accelerated academics and a program in electrical engineering that all students participate in beginning in 8th grade.
There’s a nice vibe and sense of community at STAR. Attendance is very high and students are calm and engaged in their classes. Students feel safe and respected, parents say there’s strong communication between staff and families, and teachers collaborate well, based on responses to the NYC School Survey.
We observed a mix of teaching methods. Some were traditional and highly structured with students sitting in rows and responding to questions posed by the teacher. In others, group work and student-led discussions were more the norm. For instance, in a 7th grade social studies class students worked reading and discussing a range of topics in European history such as the Renaissance, trade routes and the spread of Christianity. In an Advanced Placement English class, students posed questions to each other and offered insightful comments about a passage from their class-wide reading of Ta-Nehisi Coate’s Between the World and Me.
Instruction is accelerated and the goal is for students to complete all of the required Regents exams by the 10th grade so they are ready to focus on college level work beginning in 11th grade. Many students earn high school credit by the end of 8th grade by taking Regents exams in algebra and living environment; when we visited the school was experimenting with offering the American History and English Regents to 8th-graders too.
The early college program starts in earnest in 11th grade, though 9th-graders attend six-week-long seminars at Brooklyn College where they spend their entire Fridays sampling courses. Highly motivated juniors and seniors can end up spending most of their time at Brooklyn College taking courses such as psychology, theater, anthropology and advance math and science. The school also offers Advanced Placement courses beginning in the 9th grade.
Two fulltime staffers are located at Brooklyn College to coordinate the early college component and provide support to 11th- and 12th-graders, helping them select classes, communicate with professors and providing tutoring and small group study groups at the college.
All kids are pushed, but not all progress at the same pace. To ensure teachers have time to address the range of skill levels, middle school class sizes in English and math are kept small at roughly 18-20. Struggling students also get extra help on Saturdays. Class assignments are based on student abilities, rather than their age or grade. So, a high school trigonometry class may include some very advanced 8th-graders as well 11th- and 12th-graders who need to shore up their skills.
The electrical engineering program, which starts in 8th grade, is impressive, with two dedicated labs filled with industrial grade equipment. Students enjoy fun, hands-on learning and lots of reinforcement of math, science and coding skills. In an introductory course we observed, 8th-graders seemed engaged and happy as they learned the low-tech skill of stripping wires. “It’s an amazing class,” said one boy. “When I first walked in here I thought I was in an Iron Man movie because of all the technology.“ In high school, students work with the more heavy duty and computerized equipment.
STAR is housed on few floors in a wing of the Erasmus Hall High School Campus Building. Middle school students have sports teams, band and other after-school activities. High school students may participate in campus-wide PSAL sports and beginning in 9th grade take additional college courses after school in subjects such as culinary arts, engineering and technology through partnership with Brooklyn STEAM.
The school has a college counselor and college office. Many students attend CUNY and SUNY schools and some attend private colleges including Ivy league and other prestigious schools.
SPECIAL EDUCATION: The school has ICT (Integrated Collaborative Teaching) classes and SETSS.
ADMISSIONS: Admissions is based on a review of grades, test scores, records of attendance and punctuality, an interview as well as an exam (middle school) or writing exercise (high school). Priority to District 17 students for middle school; priority to ongoing students and then to Brooklyn students or residents for high school. (Laura Zingmond, October 2017)
About the students
About the school
Is this school safe?
About the leadership
About the teachers
Are students prepared for high school?
How many graduate?
Are students prepared for college?
How does this school serve students with disabilities?
Programs and Admissions
STAR Early College strives to promote and maintain a nurturing and rigorously challenging college oriented learning environment. Star prepares all students to take college courses at Brooklyn College as part of the early college experience and equips students to pursue professional careers in science, mathematics, technology, and related area.
Advanced Placement (AP) courses
AP Biology, AP Calculus AB, AP English Language and Composition, AP English Literature and Composition, AP U.S. History
Boys PSAL teams
Baseball, Basketball, Bowling, Cross Country, Football, Indoor Track, Outdoor Track, Soccer, Volleyball, Wrestling
Girls PSAL teams
Basketball, Flag Football, Indoor Track, Outdoor Track, Softball, Swimming, Table Tennis, Tennis, Volleyball
Coed PSAL teams
Double Dutch, Stunt