Exceed Charter School
Dedicated and caring staff
Low test scores and a lack of space for middle school students
Located in a changing area between Prospect Heights and Crown Heights, Exceed Charter School is a new school with a commitment to serving low-income students who may not have other options. It opened in 2012 in Brooklyn with grades k-3 as one of four charter schools in the Explore Schools network and plans to add a grade each year until it reaches k-8. The schools dedicated and caring staff are tweaking a traditional curriculum and style to create a welcoming and academically successful school. We want our students to love coming to school every day, Principal and Founder Curtis Palmore told us.
During a recent visit, it was evident that the school is working hard to create a dynamic learning community. Every morning, the entire school turns its attention to a guided reading period: Its all hands on deck, said Palmore, as the school works to build strong readers and to instill a love of reading. During our visit, thehallways, classrooms and even offices were buzzing with students using any available space to read independently, all clearly engaged in their books. In other nooks, four or five students clustered around a teacher who worked with them on a guided reading text.
In a sense, Exceed is still finding its way. When it opened in 2012, the school inherited a number of students from the failing PS 22, which had occupied the building and closed after several years on the DOEs list of unsafe schools. At the beginning, the school faced a tremendous challenge with some of its student body, and the school was run with a very strict management style to bring order to the classrooms and show the community that this is a different place. Now, Exceed is moving from a model of management to engagement, said Palmore, and is instituting a style of discipline that strives to keep children in the classroom. Kids who disrupt the class are still removed from the room; we saw a child reading alone at his desk in the hall, but Palmore said the goal is to return students to the classroom as quickly as possible and to restore the relationship. Exceed is focusing on building strong relationships between the students and teachers and between the school and families, and has a school culture team to help with this.
Exceed shares a building with PS 705, a progressive elementary school with a diverse student body that reflects the neighborhoods changing demographics. Exceed is largely minority and low-income. The school, unlike some charter schools, does not shy away from special ed students or ELLs (English language learners). Fifteen percent of its spots are set aside for ELL students. The small school has two self-contained special education classes, and most grades have an ICT (integrated co-teaching) class where one of the two teachers is certified to teach special ed.
The schools founding goal is to prepare each student for admission to and success in a college preparatory high school, but it has struggled with standardized tests. The low scores in 2014-15 prompted the administration to increase professional development and to further hone its monitoring of individual student progress and needs. The students are formally assessed in reading five times a year, for instance, and the school provides additional intervention to students who are struggling. Students in 3rd through 5th grade use the project-based Expeditionary Learning curriculum for reading and language arts, while younger elementary students use Core Knowledge, designed to expose students to a wide range of historical, scientific and cultural topics. For math, the school combines an in-house curriculum focusing on fluency in math facts and the TERC curriculum, which emphasizes problem-solving.
The current building lacks space for Exceeds middle school students, who will share space at nearby PS 375.
SPECIAL EDUCATION: The school welcomes students with special needs, offering both self-contained classes and ICT (integrated co-teaching) classes that combine special needs and general ed students with two teachers.
ADMISSIONS:By lottery with priority to students with siblings at the school, District 17 residents and English language learners. (Elizabeth Daniel, December 2015)
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Brooklyn NY 11238
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Brooklyn, NY 11238