I.S. 187 The Christa McAuliffe School

Grades 6-8
Staff Pick Staff Pick for Special Ed
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What’s Special

Academies geared to student interests, strong special education program

The Downside

Confusing admissions policy, no full gym

Our Review

Some of Brooklyn's brightest middle-school students fill three academies at IS 87 Christa McAuliffe. McAuliffe provides these children, many of whom go on to selective high schools, with a demanding academic program but also offers extracurricular activities, trips and electives to try to relieve the stress and keep students happy.

Students select an academy when they apply to the school in 5th grade and feel a sense of identification with it. Children in all three academies Scientific Research, Humanities, and Business and Law take the core academic subjects but the approach to the material varies among them. Students in the Humanities track, for example, take a more visual approach to material, incorporating artwork in their learning. Most classes stress projects and small group work.

Every academy has its own special classes, lunch period and three bands (one for each grade) as well as its own section of the building. Student artwork and murals decorate nearly every square-inch of plaster in the hallways and stairwells. Located in a building constructed as an elementary school, McAuliffe lacks a full-size gymnasium.

The school has a strong special education program, including self-contained classes for students with cognitive delays. These students run a cafe in the school that teachers can order food from and that caters some school events. They prepare the food, learn about money and also learn how to operate appliances. Children with disabilities in Integrated Co-Teachingclasses vastly outperform those in other schools on standardized tests.

McAuliffe has developed its own English curriculum aligned with the Common Core. Students read literature, including The Crucible in 7th grade and To Kill a Mockingbird in 8th. In a discussion arising from To Kill a Mockingbird, the class considered what factors determine whether or not a person takes a principled stand in the face of evil, such as a lynching. As students grappled with the issue, the teacher repeatedly challenged them to examine their responses more deeply.

McAuliffe uses a Pearson math program. Some, but not all, students take the algebra Regents in 8th grade. Eighth-graders can take a Spanish proficiency test.

The school has moved away from offering classes mixing various science disciplines in all grades and now offers Earth science in 6th grade, life science in 7th and physical science in 8th. Unlike many high-performing middle schools, McAuliffe does not offer a science Regents.

Teachers and the administration are trying out various technologies, including flipped classrooms where students learn a skill at home and then discuss it at school, rather than learning the lesson in class and answering questions about it at home. "Questions are key to what we do," says Principal Justin Berman. In some classes, children do an exercise online early in the evening, allowing the teacher to adjust the next day's lesson accordingly.

One of the school's biggest challenges, Berman says, is finding time for the academy electives, such as additional lab time, law and sports medicine, as well as art and music. The electives, such as a finance class where students plan a new business, clearly pique their interest. Some students in Scientific Research participate in a medical research program run in conjunction with the New York Academy of Medicine and Maimonides Medical Center.

McAuliffe brings in Holocaust survivors as part of its program to educate its students, most of whom are Asian, about the Holocaust. "They relate it to their own culture and background. It gives them a greater understanding of the world they live in," says Sarah Schmerler, a science teacher who plays a key role in the effort.

Many children attend private classes after school and on weekends. In light of this, McAuliffe tries to expose students to aspects of life outside the classroom with overnight trips and other activities. "Our kids are really good in academics but thats only part of the middle school experience," Berman says.

McAuliffe sends a large number of students to specialized high schools, particularly Brooklyn Tech and Stuyvesant. In 2013, all but three 8th-graders took the test for those schools, and 90 percent got admitted to at least one, with about one-third accepted at Stuyvesant.

Special education: With an increasing number of students with special needs, McAuliffe offers ICT classes and self-contained special education classes in every grade.

Admissions: Selective. The school is open to residents in District 20, students currently attending a District 20 elementary school, or students outside the district whose zoned middle school is in District 20. Berman says the only way to not be admitted to McAuliffe is not to apply and that the Office of Student Enrollment not staff at McAuliffe determines who gets in. The reality, though, is that there are far more qualified applicants than available seats, and most slots go to high-achieving students. Admission is determined by a combination of factors making up a "composite score". The final 4th grade report card counts for 45 percent, state tests 45 percent, attendance five percent and punctuality five percent.(Gail Robinson, March 2014; admissions updated January 2015)

About the students

Free or reduced priced lunch
Students with disabilities
English language learners

About the school

Shared campus?
This school is in its own building.
Uniforms required?
Metal detectors?
How crowded? (Full is 100%)
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average


Average daily attendance
93% Citywide Average
How many students are chronically absent?
22% Citywide Average

Is this school safe?

How many teachers say order and discipline are maintained at this school?
78% Citywide Average
How many students think bullying happens most or all of the time at this school?
51% Citywide Average
How many students say they feel safe in the hallways, bathrooms and locker rooms?
83% Citywide Average
How many students say most students treat each other with respect?
43% Citywide Average

About the leadership

Years of principal experience at this school
6.2 Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?
82% Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal has a clear vision for this school?
89% Citywide Average
How many teachers trust the principal?
83% Citywide Average

About the teachers

How many teachers have 3 or more years of experience teaching?
72% Citywide Average
Teacher attendance
97% Citywide Average
How many teachers say they would recommend this school to other families?
82% Citywide Average
How many teachers think the staff collaborate to make this school run effectively?
87% Citywide Average
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

Test scores

How many students scored 3-4 on the state math exam?
31% Citywide Average
How many students scored 3-4 on the state ELA exam?
36% Citywide Average

Arts offerings

This school has 7 dedicated spaces for Music, Theater, Visual arts, and Media arts
This school has 4 licensed arts teacher in Music and Theater

Engaging curriculum?

How many students say this school offers enough programs, classes and activities to keep them interested?
76% Citywide Average
How many students say they are challenged in most or all of their classes?
61% Citywide Average
How many students say the programs, classes and activities here encourage them to develop talent outside academics?
72% Citywide Average

Are students prepared for high school?

Accelerated courses offered for high school credit
Spanish, Algebra I
How many 8th graders earn high school credit?
27% Citywide Average
What high schools do most graduates attend?
Brooklyn Technical HS, Stuyvesant HS, and Staten Island Technical HS
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

How does this school serve English Language Learners?

How many English language learners score 3-4 on the State ELA exam?
3% Citywide Average
How many former English language learners score 3-4 on the State ELA exam?
42% Citywide Average

How does this school serve students with disabilities?

This school offers self-contained classes
This school offers team teaching (ICT)
Average math score for self-contained students
1.9 Citywide Average
Average math score for ICT students
2.1 Citywide Average
Average ELA score for self-contained students
2.0 Citywide Average
Average ELA score for ICT students
2.3 Citywide Average
How many students say that students with disabilities are included in all activities?
68% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say this school offers enough activities and services for their children's needs?
87% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say this school works to achive the goals of their students' IEPs?
90% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say they are satisfied with the IEP development process at this school?
89% Citywide Average
For more information about our data sources, see About Our Data
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1171 65 Street
Brooklyn NY 11219
Borough Park (District 20)
Trains: D to 62nd St - New Utrecht Ave ; N to Fort Hamilton Parkway
Buses: B16, B64, B9


Justin Berman
Parent Coordinator
Carla Palumbo

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