Soon, the eighth graders will be selecting their high school and hopefully get their first choice. However, for many parents and students who are bombarded with school fairs, testimonials, and visiting school staff with why the students should apply to their high school. The problem is what is the truth about which school is successful?
First, and foremost, ask the students of the school you are interested in applying about the school. Most students have no vested interest in selling their high school. They will tell you the truth about the high school, good or bad.
Second, check to see what academic courses and electives the school provides. How many Advanced Placement courses? What electives are there? Does more than one teacher teach a subject in case you and the teacher do mot see "eye to eye"?
Third, does the high school provide adequate extracurricular activities and clubs for a total high school experience? Many of the small schools suffer from lack of a gym and have poor physical education programs for example.
Fourth, does the school have a stable and supportive teaching staff with a collaborative administration?
Finally, check to see what the "career and college readiness rates" are for the school in their snapshot?
In Queens, successful schools like Forest Hills and Francis Lewis, with high "career and college readiness rates" which demonstrates an academically achieving student body. Both schools are large comprehensive high schools with loads of Advanced Placement courses, electives, and extracurricular activities. Furthermore, both schools have a stable teaching staff, with experienced teachers, and the students have the ability to move from one teacher to another if there are any issues between a teacher and a student. Just ask students about the successful schools and they will tell you how their academic and social life revolves around these schools. Is it any wonder that these schools are over subscribed?
By contrast, far too many schools are like Queens Preparatory Academy, a failed Bloomberg small school. They have low and dropping "career and college readiness" scores. Limited courses, few electives, and a low achieving student body. While they are part of a campus and have adequate extracurricular activities but have few clubs. In fact, in the 2014-15 school year, to have enough students for the school, they had to take over-the-counter students to fill their 115 vacancies, many of them level one students, the lowest academic level. I suspect similar numbers occurred this school year.
Ask the students of the school how they feel about the school and you would probably receive a negative reaction. Moreover, ask them how they ended up at the school and they may claim they don't know since they ranked the school below their top three choices. Yet, they are at the school anyway. Unlike the successful schools, Queens Preparatory Academy lost fourteen teachers of their small school staff this school year. Moreover, I was told by a teacher there the school had a 0% passing rate in Regents Chemistry. Yet these very same students are being forced to take the more difficult Regents Physics this school year with one of the courses being Advanced Placement Physics, go figure the logic to this? Is it any wonder that the Principal had a 24% trust factor in the latest snapshot?
Unfortunately, in New York City there are more schools like Queens Preparatory Academy than Forest Hills, thanks to Michael Bloomberg's education policies, we have a bogus graduation rate while our "career and college readiness" rates are unacceptable low. For students who are selecting a Queens high school just look at the chart that compares the ratio of the two metrics for each unscreened high school.
Eighth grades choose your school carefully.