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Hillcrest High School

Grades: 9-12
Staff Pick
160-05 Highland Avenue
Jamaica NY 11432
Phone: 718-658-5407

Our Insights

What’s Special

A small-school feel with the perks of a big school

The Downside


Hillcrest is a large neighborhood school with a small school feel, catering instruction for a range of kids, including new immigrants, and offering a demanding science program for future MDs and RNs. It is divided into eight small programs with themes such as theater arts, business and teaching. Students and teachers overwhelmingly say the school is safe on school surveys, and most teachers would recommend the school to other families.

Students stream past a row of single-family homes up a gentle hill to get to the school. They pass through metal detectors into wide hallways and large classrooms that lessen the effects of overcrowding, as do three staggered entrance times. The school serves West Indian, Russian, Arab, South Asian, Dominican, Puerto Rican and African immigrants, as well as long-established African American families. A large selection of teams, electives, clubs, and languages (Spanish, French, Japanese) offers something for everyone. A bilingual Bengali program addresses the needs of the rapidly growing Bangladeshi community in Queens.

The school is overseen by one principal but each small learning community (SLC) has its own director, teaching staff and suite of classrooms. The SLC themes are health sciences, humanities, pre-med, theater arts, business tech, teaching, and public service and law, in addition to the zoned program. Math, science, social studies, English and most elective classes take place within each SLC, but teens mingle with the wider campus population in sports, clubs, arts and music.

Small learning communities quickly helped this once chaotic school raise its 4-year graduation rate and lower suspensions. Teachers build their careers here and report a high level of satisfaction. Hillcrest received a rating of “well developed,” the highest rating, on the city’s quality review for teacher effectiveness. Students say they are engaged and interested in their programs, classes and activities.

Even so, the four-year graduation rate hovers around the citywide average and many graduates are not ready for college-level work. “There is a subset of students we’re not reaching even with that great teaching,” said principal David Morrison, a Hillcrest alumnus, who served as assistant principal of English for several years before he took the helm in 2014.

Many 9th graders arrive with weak reading skills and some teens miss more than 18 days of school. New immigrants face unique challenges. Morrison said, “Things happen in their life and they become long-term absences.” Getting teens to school every day is a “constant heavy lift,” but the principal said he believes it is helped by strong instruction and “follow-up by teachers and the parent coordinator to bring students back in.”

Hillcrest offers many Advanced Placement courses and teachers make them accessible to every child who can do the work, not just honors students. “If you work hard and persevere, any student can be successful with support,” such as in study groups, or with peer tutoring or teacher help, Morrison said.

College classes are held at Hillcrest in partnership with York College and Queensborough Community College. Students attend Queens College, Hunter College and Stony Brook University, among others.

ADMISSIONS: Priority to students who live in the zone. The pre-med and humanities programs have screened admissions. Students audition for theater arts. The other programs follow the educational option formula, which is designed to admit a mix of low-, average- and high-performing students. (Lydie Raschka, web data and interview, February 2018)


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School Stats

Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

Is this school safe and well-run?

From 2018-19 NYC School Survey

How many teachers say order and discipline are maintained at this school?
75% Citywide Average
How many students say they feel safe in the hallways, bathrooms and locker rooms?
86% Citywide Average
How many students think bullying happens most or all of the time at this school?
37% Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?
79% Citywide Average
How many teachers say they would recommend this school to other families?
80% Citywide Average

From 2017-18 NY State Report Card

How many students were suspended?
2% Citywide Average

From this school's most recent Quality Review Report

Are teachers effective?

From 2018-19 School Quality Guide

How many teachers have 3 or more years of experience teaching?
76% Citywide Average
Years of principal experience at this school

How do students perform academically?

From 2018-19 School Quality Guide

How many students graduate in 4 years?
82% Citywide Average
How many students graduate with test scores high enough to enroll at CUNY without remedial help?
48% Citywide Average
How many students take a college-level course or earn a professional certificate?
41% Citywide Average
How many graduates stay enrolled in college for at least 3 semesters?
67% Citywide Average

Who does this school serve?

From 2018-19 Demographic Snapshot

Free or reduced priced lunch
Students with disabilities
English language learners

From 2018-19 School Quality Guide

Average daily attendance
87% Citywide Average
How many students miss 18 or more days of school?
38% Citywide Average

From 2018 School Directories

This school offers Transitional Bilingual Education in Bengali and Spanish.

How does this school serve special populations?

From 2018-19 School Quality Guide

How many students with disabilities graduate in 4 years?
66% Citywide Average
How many English language learners graduate in 4 years?
68% Citywide Average

For more information about our data sources, see About Our Data · More DOE statistics for this school

Programs & Admissions

From the 2020 High School Directory

Health Sciences Institute
Admissions Method: Ed. Opt.
Program Description:

NYS CTE Certified Nursing Assistant program that includes supervised clinical rotations with training from registered nurses and a developing Sports Medicine program with courses such as Exercise Physiology, Human Anatomy, and Nutrition. Students participate in the Health Professions Club and receive paid and unpaid internships in the health field and volunteer experience.

Teachers of Tomorrow
Admissions Method: Ed. Opt.
Program Description:

Through a partnership with CUNY, the PERC TAS program allows students to lead lessons and mentor struggling students in Living Environment and Algebra. Through our partnership with Junior Achievement, students participate in the HS Heroes program where they have the opportunity to teach for a day, twice each year. We offer a Teacher Assistant program through our foundations of education course and the opportunity to participate in job shadowing through American Express and ABC studios.

The Academy of Media, Arts and Music
Admissions Method: Screened
  • Attendance
  • Punctuality
  • Course Grades: Average (65-100)
  • Standardized Test Scores: English Language Arts (1.9-4.5), Math (1.7-4.5)
Program Description:

An Honors College Preparatory Program offering scholars four-year tracks in Media, Art, or Music. Media provides writing and publishing courses in Journalism, Model UN, Film, and Creative Writing with options for AP and CUNY College Now English. Art includes Painting, Drawing, Sculpture, Design, Photoshop, and Printmaking with options for AP Studio Art and AP Art History. Musicians perform and compose with multiple opportunities in Band, Chorus, Drum Line, and String Ensemble.

Pre-Med Program
Admissions Method: Screened
  • Attendance
  • Punctuality
  • Course Grades: Average (75-100)
  • {"url"=>"http://2.2-4.5", "description"=>"Standardized Test Scores: English Language Arts (2.5-4.5), Math"}
Program Description:

Courses offered leading toward medical careers, AP Biology, AP Environmental Science, AP Art History, AP Calculus, AP Spanish, AP French, AP Computer Science, AP English Composition, AP English Literature, Chemistry, Anatomy, Physics, STEM Research Academy at York College, STEM Science Research Internship opportunities, NASA-Global Warming and Climate Change, Science Research-Environmental Science, Medical Laboratory, Microbiology, and CUNY College Now Courses.

Theater Arts
Admissions Method: Audition
  • Attendance
  • Course Grades: Average (60-100)
  • Individual Interview (On-Site)
  • Audition - Go to for information and dates
Program Description:

Interpretation of dramatic literature, acting, directing, playwriting, improvisation, scenic design, filmmaking, and career counseling in the arts. Students are actively supported as they progress through the rigorous curriculum of the New York City Blueprint for Theater and a CUNY College Now Communications course.

Academy of Public Service and Law
Admissions Method: Ed. Opt.
Program Description:

CTE Law Academy courses include Forensics, Criminal Justice, Criminology, Constitutional Law and Legal Studies; preparation for public and community careers in legal, federal/state/local government agencies; College credit for selected courses; High School Law Institute at Columbia University and NYU; Participation in New York State Mock Trials, Moot Court competition and Police Explorers; Paid internship opportunities with the Justice Resource Center.

Admissions Method: Ed. Opt.
Program Description:

Biz-Tek prepares students for college and careers in a range of business and STEM fields. CTE endorsed programs in Virtual Enterprise, Cyber Security/Software Engineering, CAD/CAM -Computer Aided Design/Computer Aided Manufacturing; and Information Technology and Computer Networking, training for Cisco certifications, CompTIAA+, Cisco Certified Entry Networking Technician (C-CENT), and Cisco Certified Networking, Associate (CCNA).

Admissions Method: Zoned Guarantee
Hillcrest High School ACES 15:1 Program
Admissions Method: ASD/ACES Program


Language Courses

French, Spanish

Advanced Placement (AP) courses

AP Biology, AP Calculus AB, AP Computer Science Principles, AP English Language and Composition, AP English Literature and Composition, AP Environmental Science, AP French Language and Culture, AP Spanish Language and Culture, AP United States History, AP World History: Modern


Boys PSAL teams

Baseball, Basketball, Bowling, Cross Country, Handball, Indoor Track, Soccer, Tennis, Volleyball, Wrestling

Girls PSAL teams

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

Coed PSAL teams

Cricket, Golf

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

Contact & Location


Jamaica (District 28)
Trains: F Line to Parsons Blvd
Buses: Q1, Q110, Q111, Q112, Q113, Q114, Q17, Q2, Q20A, Q20B, Q24, Q25, Q3, Q30, Q31, Q34, Q36, Q40, Q41, Q43, Q44-SBS, Q54, Q56, Q6, Q65, Q76, Q77, Q8, Q83, Q9, X68


David Morrison
Parent Coordinator
Bilquees Akhtar

Other Details

Shared campus?
This school is in its own building.
Metal detectors?

Zone for the 2019-2020 school year. Call school to confirm.

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