York Early College Academy
Accelerated program for all students; chance to graduate with 2 years' college credit
Large classes, few openings in 9th grade
York Early College Academy, a small school serving grades 6-12, is based on the belief that all students, not just the top performers, can do accelerated work and graduate from high school with credits for up to two years of college work.
The middle school accepts students with a wide range of test scores and grades, yet all are expected to take the algebra and earth science Regents exams by 8th grade. Starting in the summer of 9th grade, students take some classes at nearby York College taught by college professors. By the time they are seniors they take all of their classes on the York College campus (although generally their classmates are other high school students). This coursework enables many to apply to college as transfer students, rather than first year students.
Principal Noah Angeles is a firm believer that all children, including those with Individual Education Plans (IEPs), benefit from demanding academics. “When some children take accelerated classes and some don’t,” the principal says, “We’re marginalizing kids. … Even if you come in with an IEP you’re going to be in 8th grade algebra. You’re going to be taking college level classes.”
By most measures, the effort seems to be succeeding. Attendance is high, and the school gets high marks from students, parents and teachers. Students find the work challenging and believe that their teachers help prepare them for the next level, according to the school survey. York middle school students score substantially above the city average on the state standardized tests.
Almost all high school students graduate within four years, more than half of them with the academically demanding advanced Regents diploma. Almost all are prepared to do college work without remedial help.
Most students go on to four-year CUNY and State University of New York colleges. Six months after they graduate from high school, students who attended York are far more likely to be enrolled in college than other city students, according to a report by CUNY’s Early College Initiative.
To get to that point, York Early College students work hard and attend classes in July, and a Saturday academy as exam season draws closer. The workload is manageable, Angeles says, particularly with the tutoring, counseling and other help the school provides. “If you have a strong supportive environment, kids will do fine,” he said.
The school has opted for relatively large class sizes, so that the smaller number of classes for each subject can meet for a longer period of time. As a result, classrooms are crowded, but students are attentive and participate in discussions. A class of 6th graders eagerly talked about their learning styles while another middle school humanities class compared a work by Dr. Seuss with one by Rudyard Kipling. An 11th grade chemistry teachers sparked a lively talk when he asked his prodded his students on why they would want to learn about substances “I want some real world tangible applications,” he said.
All middle school students take software engineering and a different arts offering each year. The school offers four years of Spanish. Eleventh graders take political science. Students also take trips, including some overnights, to places such as Boston (with a side trip to Harvard University), Taconic State Park and Washington, D.C.
York shares its somewhat drab building with two middle schools, JHS 8 Richard Grossley and the Emerson School. The schools share the cafeteria, gym and auditorium. The York middle school students also participate in some activities with the other two schools. Although the building has a troubled reputation, York students give their school high marks for safety.
SPECIAL EDUCATION: The school has special education services and team teaching classes that include some students with special needs. All students, though, take college courses.
ADMISSIONS: The middle school is open to students and residents of District 28 with priority going to those who attend an open house. There are many more applicants for the 6th grade than there are seats. Students are selected by lottery. More than 80 percent of eighth graders remain at York Early College for High School and they have priority, filling almost all 9th grade seats. There are a few openings, though, with preference going to Queens students or residents. To be admitted, a student must attend the open house. Criteria include grades in major subjects, standardized test scores, attendance and punctuality, along with an interview and writing exercise. (Gail Robinson, October 2017)
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Boys PSAL teams
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Cross Country, Indoor Track, Outdoor Track, Softball, Table Tennis, Volleyball
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