John Dewey High School

Grades 9-12

What’s Special

Some good facilities; loyal alumni

The Downside

Tagged as a failing school by the city; uncertain future

Our Review

Once viewed as a beacon for progressive education in New York City, John Dewey has had a rough time in the last decade, culminating the city's efforts to shut Dewey and reopen it with a new name and a majority of new staff in September 2012. Legal action stopped that, so Dewey will keep the Dewey name and much of its faculty for the time being. Beyond that, though, much remains uncertain.

Established in 1969 as a pioneering school where students would take increased responsibility for their own education, Dewey boasts a spacious campus, performing arts facilities and rooms designed to encourage group work and independent study, all hallmarks of the Dewey model.

By most accounts, the essence of what made Dewey Dewey has eroded over the years, owing to budget cuts, staff changes and a different student body. Since the advent of metal detectors and other security measures, students have had limited use of the grassy grounds, and many of its facilities have gone largely unused.

On a 2007 visit, Insideschools found scant evidence of the school's progressive origins, with traditional classes, little student art and a lack of materials. While Dewey once accepted only students who chose it -- and its approach -- the closing of nearby Lafayette High School and other large schools sent many students with no particular interest in Dewey to the Gravesend school. Security and discipline problems increased, and the graduation rate declined. By the 2011-12 school year, fewer than 2,200 students attended a building designed to hold 2,800.

In 2010-11, Dewey was identified as a persistently low-achieving school, to the shock of those who remembered its halcyon days. It turned up on the chopping block in 2012 when the Bloomberg administration moved to close 24 schools, replace half their staffs, institute some program changes and reopen them with new names in September 2012. An arbitrator and the state Supreme Court blocked that move, meaning Dewey has survived----for now.

What the future holds, though, remains unclear. As it tried to shut Dewey, the Department of Education removed longtime--and frequently criticized--Principal Barry Fried. Many praised interim Principal Kathleen Elvin for showing leadership and improving discipline. [However, Elvin was removed from the school in 2015 because of a grade fixing scandal. The schools chancellor replaced her with Connie Hamilton, who had been principal of Kingsborough Early College School.] The school, which long prided itself on having no competitive teams, has recently introduced interscholastic sports. Some Dewey supporters point to the fact that it posts a college rate readiness well above the city average. Student safety and security appear to have improved substantially, according to Learning Environment Surveys.

Dewey continues to have strong supporters, including active and vocal alumni -- it recently won praise from graduate Spike Lee. Some students laud it for having committed teachers who provide them with needed individual attention. They also say that, even with its curtailed program, Dewey provides opportunities for students to pursue their own interests. It has offered a wide variety of classes, including Advanced Placement courses and classes on subjects including film, photography, Holocaust Studies and marine science.

The school now faces multiple challenges. By many accounts the upheavals at Dewey have divided the staff. Dewey, like the other so-called turnaround schools, did not appear in the 2012 directory provided to 8th graders applying to high schools; instead the directory has the name of the Departments of Education’s planned new school, now abandoned, Shorefront High School of Arts and Sciences at John Dewey Campus. Middle school students and their families may be reluctant to apply to a school that, fairly or unfairly, has been marked as failing. This could send more low-performing students to Dewey, making it harder for the school to thrive.

Special education: Dewey offers self-contained classes, team teaching and support services. It has also provides some special programs, including one in culinary education, and offers services to help students with IEPs select and apply for college and career education programs.

Admissions: Varies by program. The school has both screened programs and educational option programs designed to serve a range of abilities. (Gail Robinson, August 2012; updated June 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
87% Citywide Average
How many students are chronically absent?
37% Citywide Average

Is this school safe?

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

About the leadership

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

About the teachers

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

Arts offerings

This school has 7 dedicated spaces for Dance, Music, Theater, Visual arts, and Media arts
This school has 9 licensed arts teacher in Dance (part-time), Theater (part-time), Visual arts (part-time), Dance, and Music

Engaging curriculum?

How many students say this school offers enough programs, classes and activities to keep them interested?
72% Citywide Average
How many students say they are challenged in most or all of their classes?
54% Citywide Average
How many students say the programs, classes and activities here encourage them to develop talent outside academics?
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?
77% Citywide Average
How many graduates earn Advanced Regents diplomas?
11% Citywide Average
How many students drop out?
10% Citywide Average

Are students prepared for college?

How many students graduate with test scores high enough to enroll at CUNY without remedial help?
36% Citywide Average
How many students take a college-level course or earn a professional certificate?
37% Citywide Average
How many graduate and enter college within 18 months?
60% Citywide Average
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

How does this school serve English Language Learners?

This school offers Transitional Bilingual Education in Chinese and Spanish.
How many English language learners graduate in 4 years?
66% 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?
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?
91% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say they are satisfied with the IEP development process at this school?
90% Citywide Average
How many special ed students graduate in 4 years?
59% Citywide Average
For more information about our data sources, see About Our Data

Programs and Admissions

The Academy for Business and Tourism/Hospitality
Admissions Method: Ed. Opt.
Program Description

This program provides students with management theories and operational talents in partnership with National Academy of Finance, Careers through Culinary Arts Program, and Virtual Enterprise, Inc. Students are exposed to hands-on, practical experiences beginning in the ninth grade and culminating with internships prior to senior year. Graduates will have the opportunity to leave with one or more certificates related to their specialty area.

Chinese Transitional Bilingual Educational Program
Admissions Method: Screened: Language
Program Description

This program helps students strengthen their home language as they continue to improve their academic English skills. Social studies and science courses are taught using both Chinese and English, and students take Chinese as a Native Language courses in addition to their English as a New Language classes.

STEM Academy
Admissions Method: Screened
Program Description

This program provides students with a rigorous college preparatory curriculum with opportunities to explore the disciplines of computer science, engineering, and robotics. Courses will prepare students for colleges, career paths, and more. With significant opportunities for hands-on learning, students will gain fluency with the design process. STEM Academy students will be able to complete a number of college-level classes and are expected to apply their skills beyond the classroom.

Pre-Med and Health Academy
Admissions Method: Screened
Program Description

This program equips students with the knowledge, skills, and competencies for success in college pre-med programs. This four-year math and science program culminates in internships at various medical facilities. Students take advanced placement courses in biology, chemistry, anatomy, and physiology and participate in Health Occupation Students of America. Students graduate with their CPR certification and at least two other certification courses offered by the American Red Cross.

The Academy of Law and Justice
Admissions Method: Ed. Opt.
Program Description

This is an opportunity for students interested in law and exploring the struggle for justice and human rights. Program electives focus on the criminal justice system. Through our affiliation with the Justice Resource Center and Facing History & Ourselves, students visit criminal and juvenile court, work with lawyers and politicians, and participate in moot court, mock trial, and Model UN competitions. Students will also have the opportunity to take part in NYU's High School Law Institute.

The Academy of Fine and Performing Arts
Admissions Method: Ed. Opt.
Program Description

Students will experience an exciting program which includes Visual, Theater, and Dance Arts. As part of this academy students will be introduced to learning the basics of each field and advance by learning new techniques and skills in their focus area. Theater Arts students will participate in acting, scene study, and playwriting. Dance will include traditional and modern dance, jazz, interpretive dance, and choreography. Visual Arts classes include studio art, ceramics, and photography. Students interested should attend a high school Fair or the school's open house to learn more about the Portfolio Component for admissions.


Language Courses

French, Mandarin, Spanish

Advanced Placement (AP) courses

AP Art History, AP Biology, AP Calculus AB, AP Calculus BC, AP Chemistry, AP Computer Science, AP English Language and Composition, AP English Literature and Composition, AP Environmental Science, AP Macroeconomics, AP Physics, AP Psychology, AP Spanish, AP Statistics, AP U.S. History, AP World History


Boys PSAL teams

Badminton, Basketball, Lacrosse, Soccer, Table Tennis, Tennis, Wrestling

Girls PSAL teams

Badminton, Basketball, Lacrosse, Outdoor Track, Soccer, Softball, Table Tennis, Tennis, Volleyball

Coed PSAL teams

Double Dutch

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

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50 Avenue X
Brooklyn NY 11223
Gravesend (District 21)
Trains: D to Bay 50th St; F to Ave X; N to Gravesend-86th St
Buses: B1, B4, B64, B82, X28, X38


Connie Hamilton
Parent Coordinator
Kristine Gattuso

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