Innovation Charter High School
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Hands on learning and field trips
Discipline problems, below average graduation rate
At Renaissance Charter High School for Innovation, teachers help teens develop year-long projects they are passionate about and take them out and about in the city, exposing them to art, history, politics and ecology.
At some charter schools kids wear uniforms, pass silently in the halls, and spend much of the day seated at their desks. At Innovation there are no bells, no uniforms and no hallway passes.
Modeled after the popular K-12 Renaissance Charter School in Queens, Innovation encourages students to experiment and learn by doing. Students may study chemistry using Legos or create an educational video.
The results of school surveys are mixed: most students feel safe in school and say the environment is supportive, but teachers complain of a lack of discipline and order. The suspension rate is almost four times the citywide average and teachers come and go more often than at other city schools, according to state data. The graduation rate is below the citywide average.
On the positive side, Renaissance Innovation offers a Software Engineering Program (SEP), a four-year computer science sequence with classes in programming, computer application design, and game building, culminating in an Advanced Placement course. The school also offers culinary arts.
Twice a year, regular classes are suspended for weeklong enrichment projects and field trips based on themes like fashion, democracy, urban ecology or journalism. A group called "learning English through social justice" volunteers in a soup kitchen; an engineering group creates Rube Goldberg-like machines and soda-powered rockets.
This rare stand-alone charter high school has some incoming students with skills as low as 4th or 5th grade level. More than one-third of the population has disabilities. All academic classes have two teachers, one of whom is trained to teach special education.
Admissions: Lottery with priority to District 4 families. (Lydie Raschka, web reports, January 2019)