Brooklyn

District Planning

Freedom Academy High School

Report to the Community on the Performance of Freedom Academy High School (13K509)

(to download a printable PDF of this report, click here)

 

Introduction

We want every community to have high quality school options for families. To accomplish this goal, we are committed to the constant improvement of our schools—from student achievement to school environment. Every fall, the Department of Education (DOE) reviews the performance of all schools Citywide. Over the past several years, despite the best efforts of the community and the DOE to support Freedom Academy High School (“Freedom Academy”), the school has struggled to demonstrate the capacity to meet basic requirements for student success and to support the student achievement your school community deserves.

 

Staff and families have worked hard to improve the school and the DOE has provided considerable support to Freedom Academy: supporting school leadership; providing resources to increase the rigor of student work; offering supports to strengthen classroom instruction; ensuring the school is organized to focus on student achievement; working to improve the learning environment and culture of the school; and fostering community relationships and partnerships. Unfortunately, our best efforts have not turned around the school.

 

We understand that students, families, and staff members of Freedom Academy believe in the school’s potential and we know that this message is a difficult one. At the same time, we hope you share our view that we can—and must—do better for our students. We count on each of our schools to provide a high-quality education to our students—and we hold all of them to the same high standard. We must ensure our students don’t fall further behind.

 

This report provides an overview of the data and information we will review as we consider how to best serve current and future students of Freedom Academy.

 

Performance Summary

Graduation Rates

Progress Report Grades

Quality Review Rating

2011-2012 (4 year rate)

2011-2012 (6 year rate)

2009-2010

2010-2011

2011-2012

2011-2012

50%

85%

B

F

F

Developing

 

  • Graduation rates have been below 57% for three of the last four years. Freedom Academy’s four-year graduation rate (including August graduates) was 50% in 2012—well below the most recent Citywide average of 65.5% (Citywide average is based on the 2011 New York State reported graduation results for NYCDOE students.)
  • First year credit accumulation is a key predictor of student success because students who fall behind early in high school often have trouble getting back on track to graduate. In 2011-2012, only 44% of first-year students at Freedom Academy earned at least 10 credits with at least 6 of those credits earned across 3 of the 4 core subject areas. This rate of credit accumulation puts Freedom Academy in the lowest 1% of schools Citywide.
  • Freedom Academy was identified by the New York State Education Department (NYSED) as a Focus School, defined by NYSED as among the lowest-performing schools in the state based on its results with certain high-needs student groups.
  • The Progress Report measures the progress and performance of students in a school, as well as the school environment, compared to other schools serving similar student populations. Freedom Academy earned an F grade on its 2011-2012 annual Progress Report, including an F grade for Student Progress, a C grade for Student Performance, an F grade for School Environment, and a B grade for College and Career Readiness.
  • On the 2012 New York City School Survey, only 23% of teacher respondents reported that discipline and order were maintained at Freedom Academy, putting the school in the bottom 3% of all high schools Citywide. In addition, only 76% of parents reported that their child was safe at school, putting the school in the bottom 5% of all high schools Citywide.  

 

Despite Our Best Efforts, Performance Remains Low

Over the past several years, the DOE has provided numerous supports to Freedom Academy. Among those supports are:

 

·      Working with the principal to develop strong leadership skills;

·      Providing strategies for engaging students in rigorous assignments that will prepare them for success in future educational and professional pursuits;

·      Working to improve classroom instruction by giving teachers feedback that is aimed at strengthening their practice and providing professional development aligned with the Common Core Standards;

·      Recommending effective ways to organize the school;

·      Providing operational support for budget, enrollment, facilities, transportation, and health, among other areas, to allow school leadership to maximize support for student learning;

·      Helping the school to improve the learning environment and develop a culture that supports safety, respect, and socio-emotional development; and

·      Supporting the school in developing and maintaining strong ties to the community.

 

It is important to note that all schools identified by the DOE as “struggling” will receive an action plan. As we consider potential improvement options for Freedom Academy, we will reflect on past efforts at the school to help us identify what has been working and what has not. This information will guide our thinking about how to best support students and the community going forward.

 


Next Steps and What You Can Expect

Over the coming weeks, we will talk to parents, students, staff, and members of the Freedom Academy community as well as organizations that work with the school. We are particularly interested to learn about things that may not be obvious on paper: What do you think is working well at the school? What is not working?

 

Based on that feedback as well as a thorough review of multiple types of school data, we will propose one of the following courses of action that we believe will lead to the best outcome for current and future students:

 

Action Plan #1: Developing an action plan for the school that will focus support in areas where intensive assistance is required to improve student performance. The plan will be implemented over the course of the 2012-2013 school year. The plan may include a wide variety of supports, such as:

·         Providing leadership coaching;

·         Providing professional development on instructional strategies for struggling students;

·         Identifying grants aimed at specific needs of the school;

·         Introducing new programs;

·         Assisting with the development of a smaller learning environment; and

·         Changing leadership.

 

Action Plan #2: Providing new school options for students and parents that can better support student success by:

·         Phasing out the school over time by not accepting new students;

·         Supporting current students at the school through graduation; and

·         Placing new district or charter school(s) that will support student achievement and provide additional school choices for families.

 

As we move forward in this process and develop an action plan for the school, we will be able to provide additional details about how that plan would impact students and the broader Freedom Academy community. Regardless of the outcome of this process, the DOE will work to ensure that all students receive the support they need and the excellent education they deserve. We appreciate and value your feedback and participation throughout this process.

 

Sharing Your Concerns and Questions

Parents, staff, and other community members who have questions or comments at any time are encouraged to reach out to the school’s Community District Superintendent and/or Office of Family and Community Engagement:

 

High School Superintendent: Karen Watts, D13proposals@schools.nyc.gov or 212-374-0208

Division of Family and Community Engagement (FACE): FACE@schools.nyc.gov or 212-374-4118

Office of Portfolio Management (OPM) website: http://schools.nyc.gov/community/planning/changes/brooklyn/proposal?id=299

 

Opportunities for Feedback