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Aviation Career & Technical Education High School
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Students can graduate with FAA certification; the school feels like a community
Lopsided boy-girl ratio
Aviation High School combines career and technical education (CTE) training with rigorous academics in a spirited environment. Students have the opportunity to graduate with a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certificate in either airframe or powerplant maintenance in addition to a high school diploma, making them eligible for well-paying jobs or prepared to move onto college right after high school.
The school is one of only five high schools across the nation that offer this sort of CTE program, and it is by far the largest. Students gain the FAA certifications by rotating through different shop courses, or labs, that help them foster technical skills through hands-on group work. These settings gives students the chance to be in leadership roles as the “foreman” of the class or “crew chief” of their small group.
Students learn about topics such as weight and balance and metal erosion; hands-on work is helpful for students who want to study engineering. In upper grades, students devote more time to shop courses, with seniors spending four periods a day in labs.
Students may apply to stay at Aviation for a fifth year to obtain both degrees and have the chance to attend the school’s annex at JFK International Airport. Since students are earning a federal certification, the program is fairly strict; lateness is not tolerated and absences must be made up. About 40 percent of students graduate with the FAA license.
Principal Steven Jackson said that the “academics are not secondary” at Aviation. In fact, the hands-on learning in labs often reinforces concepts studied in math and science classes, and the departments try to collaborate. He explained that classes typically involve group work and said that he hopes the school continues to encourage more “higher-level and analytical thinking.”
The school offers eight Advanced Placement courses, including calculus AB, chemistry, English literature and composition, and U.S. government and politics, as well as College Now courses that about 300 students take. However, because of the demanding hours required for the CTE program, the school has limited electives, which include art and music. The language program consists of just one year of Spanish.
The school feels like a community, and there is a sense of loyalty among students, teachers and alumni. This seems to be largely a result of the CTE program, which relies heavily on teamwork. One shop teacher in a class where students worked in pairs—one welding and one serving as the fire guard—explained that Aviation students really have to trust and rely on one another during labs. Another teacher noted that this also benefits students socially: The small group settings make even naturally shy kids comfortable participating in labs and working closely with others. Alumni stay involved and many even become teachers at the school. According to Jackson, there is low teacher turnover and principals also tend to stick around for many years because the school is “like a family.” He himself has worked at the school for several years, starting out as a social studies teacher before becoming assistant principal and then principal.
Aviation students go down a variety of paths after graduating. With the help of the school’s one full-time college counselor, many attend college. In the past, students have been admitted to SUNYs and CUNYs, as well as Cornell, West Point, and the Air Force and Naval Academies. The school has partnerships with a handful of colleges that grant students college credit for the airframe or powerplant courses they have completed. Other students go to work after they finish the program. Partnerships with companies including Delta and JetBlue, in addition to a strong alumni network, guide students throughout their job search.
Although the school days are long due to intensive shop classes, many students still make time for extracurriculars, including the Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) program (with many students holding leadership roles) and a range of clubs such as robotics, mock trial and moot court, drama and many PSAL sports.
About 21 percent of the students are female. A female senior told us that the number of female students has increased since she began. She said that the teachers “treat [the girls] the same, but the boys treat us delicate.”
Aviation students, many of them first-generation, are from all five boroughs, with some commuting from almost 2 hours away.
SPECIAL EDUCATION: The school has a growing population of students with disabilities. There are both integrated co-teaching (ICT) and self-contained classes. Only a small number of students with disabilities graduate with FAA certification.
ADMISSIONS: Screened. Students are admitted based on academics, attendance and other variables. (Katharine Safter, June 2018)Read more
Is this school safe and well-run?
From 2017-18 NYC School Survey
From 2015-16 NY State Report Card
From this school's most recent Quality Review Report
How do students perform academically?
From 2016-17 School Quality Guide
From 2017 NY State Graduation Outcomes
Who does this school serve?
From 2017-18 Demographic Snapshot
Programs & Admissions
- Course Grades: English (81-100), Math (85-100), Science (85-100), Social Studies (85-100)
- Standardized Test Scores: English Language Arts (2.8-4.5), Math (3.2-4.5)
Designed for students who excel in math and science, this challenging academic and technical program will prepare students for engineering colleges and FAA aircraft maintenance certification. Students not meeting this criteria are encouraged to apply to Q60Q.
- Course Grades: English (75-100), Math (80-100), Science (79-100), Social Studies (77-100)
- Standardized Test Scores: English Language Arts (2.4-4.5), Math (2.5-4.5)
Designed for students with an interest in math and science, this challenging academic and technical program will prepare students for the FAA aircraft maintenance certification and engineering colleges.
Advanced Placement (AP) courses
AP Calculus AB, AP Chemistry, AP English Language and Composition, AP English Literature and Composition, AP Environmental Science, AP Physics, AP Statistics, AP U.S. Government and Politics, AP U.S. History, AP World History
Boys PSAL teams
Baseball, Basketball, Bowling, Cross Country, Handball, Indoor Track, Outdoor Track, Soccer, Tennis, Volleyball, Wrestling
Girls PSAL teams
Basketball, Indoor Track, Outdoor Track, Volleyball
Coed PSAL teams
Contact & Location
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Long Island City, NY 11101
Long Island City, NY 11101