Queens

Proposed Phase-out and Replacement Scenario for Beach Channel High School

Overview

■   Based on an extensive review of data and community feedback, the New York City Department of Education (DOE) has determined that Beach Channel High School (Beach Channel) is unable to turn around and cannot provide a high-quality education to its students. The DOE is proposing that Beach Channel be phased out.

■   Proposing to phase out a school is the most difficult decision we make. We are proposing this action because we think it’s the right thing for current and future students in this community.

■   The phase-out process would be gradual and happen over the next several years. Beach Channel would complete phasing out in June 2014.

■   The replacement process would also be gradual. Rockaway Park High School for Environmental Sustainability opened in the building where Beach Channel is located and began enrolling ninth grade students this past September. Rockaway Park High School for Environmental Sustainability will gradually phase in and be fully phased in by June 2014. An additional new high school will be proposed to open in the same building next September and would be fully phased in by June 2015.

■   We hope you share our view that we can—and must—do better for students. The DOE will continue to work closely with Beach Channel staff and families to ensure that all students receive the support they need to succeed in school.

Educational Impact Statement

Read the full description of the phase-out proposal here. (amended 01.12.2011)

Read the full description of the new school co-location proposal here.   (amended 01.12.2011)

Sharing Your Concerns and Questions

The DOE is seeking your feedback on the proposal. We will record your comments and include them in our analysis of public feedback, which is presented to the PEP prior to their vote on the proposal. Please submit any comments you have at:

Phone: 212-374-7621
 E-mail: HS.Proposals@schools.nyc.gov

Joint Public Hearing

Date: January 13, 2011
Time:
6:00 p.m.
Location:
Beach Channel High School, 100-00 Beach Channel Drive, Queens, NY 11694 
Archive: Read the complete transcript here.

Panel for Educational Policy Vote on the Proposal

Date: February 3, 2011
Time: 6:00 p.m.
Location: Brooklyn Technical High School, 29 Fort Greene Place, Brooklyn, NY 11217


For more information, see the PEP website .

Summary

Last year, the four-year graduation rate (including August graduates) at Beach Channel was 52%, well below the citywide average of 63%. [1]

Last year, Beach Channel earned an overall F grade on its Progress Report, with an F grade on Student Performance, an F grade on Student Progress, and a D grade on School Environment. The Progress Report results for Beach Channel put the school in the bottom 2% of all high schools that received a 2009-2010 Progress Report.

The New York State Education Department (SED) named Beach Channel as one of the “Persistently Lowest Achieving” (PLA) schools in the entire state in 2008-2009.

Last winter, the Panel for Education Policy (PEP) voted to phase out Beach Channel based on evidence that the school was unable to improve student performance significantly. A lawsuit prevented the DOE from following through with those plans. The performance of Beach Channel over the last year reaffirms that Beach Channel continues to struggle.

Beach Channel staff and families have worked hard to improve the school. The DOE has also offered considerable support to Beach Channel, including extensive training for school leadership and teachers, helping establish an extended-day program that focuses on getting students back on track toward graduation, and working with the school’s administration to use grant funds most effectively. Unfortunately, these efforts have not turned the school around.

During conversations with the Beach Channel community, we heard concerns about the school’s program offerings. Parents would like to see marine biology and automotive programs at the school, and they have concerns about the school’s lack of involvement with outside organizations.

What would the proposal mean for current students?

If this proposal is approved, Beach Channel would be phased out gradually over the next several years. Below are enrollment plans for current Beach Channel students, if the school is phased out.

Current first-time ninth grade students would have the option of completing high school at Beach Channel or may participate in the High School Admissions Process and apply to attend a different school as a 10th grader in September 2011.

Current repeat ninth grade students will complete high school at Beach Channel if they earn credits on schedule. As the school would become smaller, students would receive more individualized attention through graduation to ensure they are receiving the support they need to succeed. Students are also encouraged to meet with their guidance counselor to review their progress toward graduation and discuss their options, which may include applying to a transfer school.

Current 10th, 11th, and 12th grade students who are on track to graduate will complete high school at Beach Channel if they continue to earn credits on schedule. As the school would become smaller, students would receive more individualized attention through graduation to ensure they are receiving the support they need to succeed. Students are also encouraged to meet with their guidance counselor to discuss their options.

Current 10th, 11th, and 12th grade students who are not on track to graduate should meet with their guidance counselor to discuss their options. Students could complete high school at Beach Channel or consider applying to a transfer high school.

If Beach Channel is phased out, the school would no longer admit new ninth grade students after the end of this school year. Beach Channel would continue to serve students currently enrolled in the school until the school completes phasing out in June 2014.

Background

Beach Channel High School Has Struggled for Years

■   Last year, Beach Channel’s four-year graduation rate (including August graduates) was 52%, well below the citywide average of 63%. Beach Channel ranks in the bottom 12% of high schools citywide and in the bottom 6% of high schools in Queens in terms of graduation rate. In 2008-2009, the four-year graduation rate at Beach Channel was 47%, placing the school in the bottom 7% of high schools citywide and in the bottom 2% of high schools in Queens in terms of graduation rate.  

■   If Regents diplomas alone counted toward graduation—as will be the case next year—the 2009-2010 four-year graduation rate at Beach Channel would drop to 31%, well below the citywide average of 46%.

■   Beach Channel earned an overall F grade on its Progress Report last year, with an F grade on Student Performance, an F grade on Student Progress, and a D grade on School Environment. Beach Channel’s Progress Report grade ranks in the bottom 2% of high schools receiving a 2009-2010 Progress Report. Beach Channel earned an overall D grade on its 2008-2009 Progress Report, with a D grade on Student Performance, an F grade on Student Progress, and an F grade on School Environment.

■   Last year, only 60% of first-year students at Beach Channel earned at least 10 credits. Beach Channel ranks in the bottom 8% of high schools citywide in credit accumulation. Earning at least 10 credits is a key predictor of future student success because students who fall behind often have trouble getting back on track to graduate.

■   The school’s attendance rate continues to be extremely low. Last year, the attendance rate was 76%, 10 points below the citywide average of 86% for high schools. In fact, this attendance rate is the lowest for any Queens high school and is among the very lowest for any high school in New York City, placing Beach Channel in the bottom 5% of schools citywide. In 2008-2009, the attendance rate was 79%, placing the school in the bottom 11% citywide.

■   Beach Channel was rated “Proficient” on its most recent Quality Review in 2008-2009. During Quality Reviews, experienced educators spend several days visiting a school, observing classrooms, and talking to staff, students, and parents. Schools are rated on a four-point scale, with “Well Developed” as the highest rating. “Proficient” is equivalent to a score of three out of four.

■   Safety issues have been a concern at Beach Channel in recent years. On the 2009-2010 New York City School Survey, 29% of students reported feeling unsafe in the hallways, bathrooms, and locker rooms. That same year, 19% of parents expressed concerns about their children’s safety. In addition, 30% of teachers reported that discipline and order were not maintained at the school.

Demand for the School is Low, Suggesting that Families Are Seeking Better Options [2]

■   Demand for Beach Channel has fallen in recent years. Beach Channel admits students into five unscreened programs and one zoned program through the High School Admissions Process.

■   Over the past two years, demand for Beach Channel’s screened programs declined from an already low average of 2.1 applications per seat for September 2009 enrollment to an average of 1.5 applications per seat for September 2010 enrollment.

As for Beach Channel’s zoned program, only 12% of incoming ninth-grade students who reside within the zone were enrolled in Beach Channel as of October 31, 2009. This means that the vast majority of zoned ninth-grade students who were guaranteed a seat at Beach Channel High School chose to attend high school elsewhere.

Despite Our Best Efforts, Performance at Beach Channel Remains Low

We recognize that Beach Channel staff members have worked hard to improve the school, but the school has not turned around. Over the previous years, the DOE has offered numerous supports to Beach Channel including:

Leadership Support:

■  Helping the principal develop Beach Channel’s Comprehensive Education Plan and set school goals.

■  Connecting administrators with other schools to learn effective practices that could be replicated at Beach Channel.

Instructional Support:

■  Training for the principal and assistant principal on writing effective observations, using data to make instructional decisions, ARIS, and new state standards.

■  Offering teachers workshops about curriculum planning, understanding by design curriculum, standards-based lesson plans, theory of action, curriculum coherence, and instructional rounds.

■  Training and on-site support to help teacher teams use data to improve instruction for English language learners, special education students, and students performing below grade level.

■  Helping the school develop more coherent assessment and grading policies.

Operational Support:

Working with the school to implement $182,000 in grant funding, $142,000 of which was used to create Small Learning Communities and $40,000 of which supported after-school clubs and activities.

■  Providing one-on-one support to school staff on budgeting, human resources, recruiting and retaining talented teachers, and compliance issues.

Student Support:

■  Working with the school to help students monitor their progress toward graduation, plan for careers, and get ready for college.

■  Training for guidance counselors on how to use scholarship reports and graduation tracking systems.

Working with the school to introduce an extended-day program that focuses on credit recovery.

Helping the school improve student attendance and reduce suspensions by using technology to communicate with students who have poor attendance, having attendance teachers make phone calls to parents and visit homes, and working with social workers and guidance counselors to address gang-related issues at the school.

We Know That We Can Do Better

Like most New York City public schools, Beach Channel serves a high-need population: 20% of students require special education services and 10% are English language learners. But other schools serving similar students have achieved far better results.

■   At Explorations Academy, a Bronx school, 20% of students require special education services and 13% of students are English language learners. The school achieved a 70% four-year graduation rate in 2009-2010, with 52% of students earning Regents diplomas.

■   At Information Technology High School, a Queens school, 16% of students require special education services and 10% of students are English language learners. The school achieved a 72% four-year graduation rate in 2009-2010, with 56% of students earning Regents diplomas.

While all students are still not where we’d like them to be, these schools are getting far better results while serving a similar mix of students to Beach Channel.

Community Feedback

On November 15, 2010, Queens High School Superintendent Juan Mendez held meetings with the School Leadership Team, teachers, and parents at the school to discuss what is working at Beach Channel High School, what isn’t working, and how we can work together to serve students better. Parents expressed several concerns about the school. They said:

They are dissatisfied with the school’s program options. Instead, they’d like their children to be able to access marine biology and automotive programs.

The school suffers from a lack of involvement by community-based organizations and other outside partners.

The school is not doing enough to support low performing students.

Supporting Current and Future Students

We Remain Focused on Helping Beach Channel Students to Succeed

During the proposed phase out, the DOE will build on past efforts to help the school by:

Providing teacher training around issues including curriculum planning, improving teaching practices, and tailoring instruction to individual student needs.

Fostering opportunities for teachers and administrators to connect with colleagues in other more successful schools, allowing them to learn from one another, improve teaching, and better support students.

Facilitating partnerships with community-based organizations to support youth development initiatives at the school.

Plans for New Schools for the Beach Channel Community

As we work together to create better options for the Beach Channel community, we will keep in mind what had worked at Beach Channel and do our best to incorporate those positive elements into replacement plans. For example:

We will work with the community to retain partnerships with community-based organizations that are offering valuable services to the school community.

We will consider what elements of the school structure are working and do our best to include those features in a replacement school, if Beach Channel is phased out.

What You Can Expect

The joint public hearing was held on January 13, 2011 by the DOE, District 27 Community Education Council and Beach Channel’s School Leadership Team, among others. The Citywide Council for High Schools was invited to participate in the joint public hearing. During this hearing, community members, including parents and students, were able to share their thoughts on the phase-out proposal.

The proposal to phase out Beach Channel will be voted on by the Panel for Educational Policy (PEP), which is composed of members appointed by Mayor Bloomberg and the five Borough Presidents, during a public meeting scheduled for February 3, 2011. During this meeting, the public will have another opportunity to comment on the proposal. If the PEP approves the proposal, Beach Channel will not accept new ninth grade students next school year.


[1] The graduation rate cited here represents the City’s calculation of the four-year graduation rate on the school’s 2009-2010 Progress Reports. It is similar to the State method, and typically there is only modest deviation between our calculation and the State rate. Citywide four-year graduation rates for the Class of 2010 are still being audited by the New York State Education Department and will not likely be available until Spring 2011. The most recent available four-year graduation rate (including August graduates) for New York City was 63% for the Class of 2009 and the citywide Regents graduation rate for the same year was 46%.

[2] Audited enrollment data are not yet available for the current school year. Enrollment data are from the 2009-2010 school year, audited as of October 31, 2009. Demand data reflect high school admissions applications submitted in early December 2009 for students beginning high school in September 2010. This data captures the demand for Beach Channel prior to the DOE’s proposed phase-out of Beach Channel. As a result, these enrollment and demand figures do not reflect the impact of that proposed phase-out announcement.