Forest Hills High School

Grades 9-12
Staff Pick
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What’s Special

Selective science program; wide variety of arts electives

The Downside

Severe overcrowding

Our Review

Forest Hills High School is a large neighborhood school that offers 39 Advanced Placement courses, several foreign languages (including Hebrew and Chinese), 60 clubs and 35 sports teams. Designed to serve 2,500 students, the building has long been severely overcrowded with close to 4,000. Students attend school in three overlapping sessions with some arriving as early as 7:20 a.m. and the last class ending after 5 p.m.

When Saul Gootnick became principal in 2007, Forest Hills, though popular, did not have the same academic reputation as other Queens schools such as Cardozo, Bayside and Francis Lewis. Some students got lost - and skipped class or failed to take Regents or Advanced Placement tests. The graduation rate lagged, And the elegant 1940s building, was outmoded.

Gootnick focused on improving attendance, by hiring an attendance coordinator and upgrading the school's phone system. The average daily attendance rate rose from 86 percent in 2006-07 to nearly 90 percent.

Students now must take their Regents tests if they want to go to the prom or be on an athletic team. And anyone who signs up for an AP class should count on finishing it.

Forest Hills also introduced a program aimed at helping low performing students graduate -- whether it takes afterschool classes, Saturday classes, switching to a GED program or pestering parents. The graduation rate increased from barely 70 percent to nearly 85 percent.

Local politicians provided funds to modernize the building. Smart Boards were installed in every classroom, and the 1940s vintage library got a major makeover.

None of the improvements, though, mitigate the severe overcrowding. The school stays open until 8 p.m. in an effort to provide extracurricular activities and instill school spirit, but it's a struggle.

"It's pretty crowded," said one boy arriving in the late morning for the third session. By the time he leaves school after 5, eats dinner and does he homework, he complained, the evening is over. Despite the crunch, many students praised the teaching staff. And Forest Hills was featured by CNN as an example of how a large, crowded school can succeed.

Forest Hill admits anyone who moves into the school's zone during the year, resulting in some student changing classes several weeks into the year. A student struggling with an AP class, say, may be moved out of that class to make way for a new student.

Forest Hills offer honors classes, but most classes include students with a wide range of abilities. The special programs include two that feature moot court and mock trials. The Carl Sagan Program provides student with four years of research classes in addition to science and math. In one research class, students presented an experiment and their classmates critiqued it. Other options include a health professions program culminating in internships at North Shore Medical Center and drama and music academies.

Given the thousands of teenagers in a confined space and the constant coming and going, Forest Hills appears orderly with students at work in most classes. Even the cafeteria is not as noisy as one would expect.

About two thirds of Forest Hills graduates go on to college, attending a wide range of schools. The college office has two counselors.

Special education: The school offers self-contained classes, teams teaching classes and a resource room. In one team-teaching class, the two teachers collaborated closely on a lesson about the 1960 presidential election, drawing in the students. Forest Hills says it makes a concerted effort to help special education students get regular, not IEP, diplomas.

Admissions: The majority of Forest Hills students come from its zone, although some special programs take students from elsewhere. The very popular Law and Humanities program accepts students using the education option system. Students in the Sagan program are chosen based on achievement and attendance, and the drama and music academies require an audition. (Gail Robinson, April 2012)

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 and Visual arts
This school has 8 licensed arts teacher in 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

Academy of Chinese Studies
Admissions Method: Ed. Opt.
Program Description

Program available to students who possess oral fluency in Chinese language. Students will develop high literacy in Mandarin and learn about Chinese culture through a sequence of classes and activities culminating in an Advanced Placement class and a special project.

Dual Language Spanish
Admissions Method: Screened: Language
Program Description

Dual Language programs are designed to integrate English Language Learners with English-proficient students to receive content instruction in English and a target language. This program is open to all students regardless of interest area.

Carl Sagan STEM Honors Academy
Admissions Method: Screened
Program Description

This academy is a comprehensive science and math program for students who are interested in pursuing careers related to science, technology, engineering, and math. This program begins with a course in STEM fundamentals, which leads to four unique pathways of study: Research, Applied Sciences, Health Professions, and Engineering/Computer Programming. For more information go to our school website and click on Academics, Science Department.

Law Academy
Admissions Method: Ed. Opt.
Program Description

This academy offers students the opportunity to study legal writing, civil, criminal, and constitutional law while developing higher order critical thinking and communication skills as they prepare for college and career. Students can participate in internships, jobsite visits, mock trial, and moot court.

Drama Academy
Admissions Method: Audition
Program Description

One-year multimedia class with opportunity to take a three-year advanced sequence of all aspects of theater.

Academy of Instrumental and Vocal Music
Admissions Method: Audition
Program Description

This academy includes beginning, intermediate, and advanced instruction on all band, orchestra, and percussion instruments as well as voice. Students take four sequential years of music theory that culminate in the NYC Music Comprehensive Exam. Our ensembles include: Beginning Band, Intermediate Band, Concert Band, Jazz Band, Beginning Orchestra, Intermediate Orchestra, Symphonic Orchestra, Beginning and Advanced Percussion, Vocal Training, Women's Choir, and Concert Choir.

Admissions Method: Zoned Guarantee
Program Description


Language Courses

American Sign Language, French, Hebrew, Italian, Latin, Mandarin, Spanish

Advanced Placement (AP) courses

AP Art History, AP Biology, AP Calculus AB, AP Calculus BC, AP Computer Science, AP English Literature and Composition, AP Environmental Science, AP French, AP Macroeconomics, AP Physics, AP Psychology, 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, Handball, Indoor Track, Outdoor Track, Soccer, Tennis, Volleyball, Wrestling

Girls PSAL teams

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

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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67-01 110th Street
Forest Hills NY 11375
Forest Hills (District 28)
Trains: M, R to 67th Ave
Buses: Q23, Q38, Q60, Q64, QM10, QM11, QM12, QM18, QM4, QM40, QM42, QM44


Benjamin Sherman
Parent Coordinator
Suzanna Khaimova

Zone for the 2017-2018 school year. Call school to confirm.

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