Midwood High School

Grades 9-12
Staff Pick
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What’s Special

Strong science and math, racially integrated student body

The Downside

Large class sizes, little opportunity for individual attention

Our Review

The giant, overcrowded Midwood High School has one of the best science programs in the city and a dizzying array of clubs and sports, everything from a marching band to a cricket team. Top students conduct research with mentors at nearby Brooklyn College, while struggling students get the help they need to be successful.

On the day of our visit, science students extracted DNA from peas in one class. In another, they dropped balls of different weights, repeating Galileo's famous experiment with high-tech equipment to graph acceleration. Students may take electives like robotics, forensics and anatomy as well as standard courses like chemistry and physics.

In the science research program, we spoke to a girl who studied how parrots released from Brooklyn College campus 20 years ago had adapted to the cold climate. Another student was researching how to make electro chemical devices like fuel cells and solar panels more efficient.

Michael McDonnell, who became principal in 2013, emphasizes a hands-on approach to science that seems to work with students of all abilities. McDonnell is a Midwood parent as well as long-time science teacher and former assistant principal at the school. He has a BA in meteorology.

Midwood is a welcoming, racially integrated school that attracts students from across Brooklyn. Nearly half are zoned for the school and the rest enroll in competitive, highly selective medical science and humanities programs. Students in the Medical Science Institute take five years of science in four years and concentrate in research, robotics or medical issues. Students admitted to the Humanities Institute must take at least four years of foreign language, including one year of Latin. Ninth graders in the zoned program may move to a selective program after their first year if teachers believe they can handle the workload.

The huge size of the school is both a plus and a minus. There is strong school spirit, and students told us that kids of different backgrounds and skills mix and mingle. The energy of the strongest students seems to raise the bar for everyone. The large enrollment means Midwood can offer more than a dozen Advanced Placement courses and lots of electives like robotics and journalism. It has a well-equipped library and up-to-date labs.

But students don't always get individual attention. One student told Insideschools, "if you are self-motivated, you will do fine here, teachers will help you... but you have to be willing to say if you need help, because it's not going to just come and find you." There is human gridlock during class changes. Crowd-control means rules about using the bathrooms and not wearing hats are strictly enforced. There is a staggered schedule, and some students start at 7:15 am. Most seniors leave by 12:30 pm, because the school doesn't have the budget to offer a full day of classes.

Midwood has a thoughtful approach to math and science that is designed so that students master critical skills before moving on. Students who arrive with weak skills two years of living environment and two years of algebra before taking classes in other areas of math and science. Students who do not find math comes easily are still encouraged to take four years. These students can take classes such as discrete math, which looks at topics they will use in real life, for example how much interest rates on a loan will cost you in the long run. On the other end, students can accelerate in math by taking a one-year course that combines algebra 2 and pre-calculus.

McDonnell told Insideschools that for some neighborhood students (including some recent immigrants from Pakistan who have interrupted formal education) the "doing part of science" is what works. In the first year of living environment the focus is on skills development, particularly reading, math and the metric system. McDonnell told us that, "there are more vocabulary words in a year of living environment than there are in a year of foreign language."

Changes to the English curriculum in response to Common Core caused division in the department at Midwood, in particular a decision to use 70 percent non-fiction texts. The English assistant principal, Suzanne Thomas, told us that the goal of these changes is to develop skills in research, argument and critical thinking so students can "read, write, listen and speak for the real world."

One teacher told us that while "being able to write an argument is good that doesn't mean you should exclude fiction from the curriculum... it's hard to meet all the Common Core expectations with regard to non-fiction and also get them to read the great books that I passionately believe the students need to be better human beings." On the day of our visit students in one English class were going over unfamiliar vocabulary in Oedipus Rex.

The social studies classes we visited were lively and engaging. One integrated co-teaching history class studied the French Revolution and had an animated debate on what to do when leaders do not serve the interests of the wider population. Another class discussed the electoral system and analyzed the 2014 U.S. Senate elections. Teachers at Midwoodlike most schools in the city--have five sections of 34 students. Administrators acknowledge that students may not receive individual attention and in classes like English and social studies, teachers simply do not have time to read all student work.

Students at Midwood are spoilt for choice when it comes to sports and clubs. Students can compete in PSAL in everything from cricket to wrestling. Students can also play sports like ping-pong and golf as part of a club. Other unique Midwood clubs include gardening, cycling, golf, and ocean science. The school has an award-winning newspaper called the Argus. Many students also participate in SING!, an annual musical theatre production.

College is the goal for most students at Midwood. Every year a handful of students go to Ivy-league schools and most go to CUNY and SUNY colleges. The school has a college office with two college counselors for 850 seniors. Although regular guidance counselors and sports coaches also assist with college applications, administrators acknowledge that students don't get a lot of individual attention.

Special Education: The school has a range of special education services including self-contained and integrated co-teaching classes for the approximately 200 Midwood students with Individualized Education Programs. Midwood strives to place students in the least restrictive environment. Special education students are encouraged to take CTE (career and technical education) courses along with graduation requirements.

Admissions: Zoned school. Students who have at least a 90 average in their core courses, score Level 3 or 4 on their state exams and have good attendance (10 or fewer absences) may apply to the Medical Science Institute or the Humanities program. Haitian Creole speakers with grades of 85 or above may apply to a bilingual Medical Science Institute. (Clara Hemphill and Ella Colley, November 2014)

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 6 dedicated spaces for Music, Visual arts, and Media arts
This school has 14 licensed arts teacher in Music (part-time), Visual arts (part-time), Music, Theater, and Visual arts

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?

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

Liberal Arts and Science Institute
Admissions Method: Unscreened
Program Description

Students in the LASI Honors Academy track take course work leading to an Advanced Regents diploma. Students in the college and careers track are able to enroll in one of our CTE programs (Pre-Engineering, Law, and Media Arts). Our college support track provides the academic support for students so that they are college-ready by the time they graduate from high school.

Humanities Institute
Admissions Method: Screened
Program Description

Creative Writing, American Classics, Journalism, Medieval Literature, Intel Social Science Research, Criminal Law, Law Internship, AP Psychology, AP Human Geography, Sociology, AP Capstone Seminar and Research, Latin, French, Spanish

Medical Science Institute
Admissions Method: Screened
Program Description

Biology (gifted and AP), Chemistry (gifted and AP), Physics (AP Physics 1, 2, and AP Physics with Calculus), Calculus Track (Pre-Calculus, AP Calculus AB, and BC), Statistics, Medical Issues, Environmental Sciences (AP Environmental Science), AP Capstone Seminar and Research, Science Research Program, AP Computer Science, New York State approved CTE program (Robotics and Mechatronics).

Bilingual Haitian Creole Institute
Admissions Method: Screened: Language & Academics
Program Description

Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Calculus, Statistics, Medical Issues, Environmental Sciences, Intel Research; Ninth grade core subjects taught in bilingual Haitian Creole; Students then transition into our English as a New Language program.


Language Courses

French, Latin, 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 European History, AP Human Geography, AP Macroeconomics, AP Physics, AP Psychology, AP Seminar, AP Spanish, AP Statistics, AP U.S. Government and Politics, AP U.S. History, AP World History


Boys PSAL teams

Baseball, Basketball, Bowling, Cross Country, Football, Handball, Indoor Track, Lacrosse, Outdoor Track, Soccer, Swimming, Tennis, Volleyball, Wrestling

Girls PSAL teams

Basketball, Bowling, Cross Country, Flag Football, Handball, Indoor Track, Lacrosse, Outdoor Track, Soccer, Softball, Swimming, Tennis, Volleyball

Coed PSAL teams

Cricket, Golf

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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2839 Bedford Avenue
Brooklyn NY 11210
Flatbush (District 22)
Trains: 2, 5 to Flatbush Ave-Brooklyn College
Buses: B103, B11, B41, B44, B44-SBS, B49, B6, B8, BM1, BM2, BM3, BM4, Q35


Michael Mcdonnell
Parent Coordinator
Carol Ardito

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