47 The American Sign Language and English Secondary School

Grades 9-12
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What’s Special

Deaf and hearing students learn sign language

The Downside

Below average graduation rate

Our Review

At The American Sign Language (ASL) and English Secondary School, hearing and deaf students learn alongside each other in classes staffed with professional sign interpreters. The school draws students come from all over the city, including Staten Island and Far Rockaway. Roughly 25 percent of the students are deaf or hard-of-hearing and most others are hearing kids with deaf siblings or parents. The school also attracts hearing students interested in learning sign language.

The school is housed in a 1920s-era building it shares with the American Sign Language and English Lower School, which has a separate administration and teaching staff. The high schools facilities include large classrooms, a gym and weight room, computer lab, renovated science lab and a cozy library with couches and colorful rugs.

Students enjoy a calm and close-knit environment that embraces deaf culture, which Principal Wafta Shama describes as a culture of communication. Hand gestures, feet stomping and touching people to get their attention are essential. In ASL its not rude to point,said Shama.

About 25 percent of the teachers are deaf and roughly half of the staff knows sign language. Students and staff are given sign names by their deaf peers. Only a deaf person can give you a sign name and its based on a personal trait, said Shama whose sign name is three fingers forming a W swiped across the forehead. It represents leadership.

Parents and students feel welcome and safe in the school and give high marks to teachers based on their responses to the 2011-12 Learning Environment Survey (LES). Teachers, however, offer a more mixed review on the LES, with at least a third responding that the school does not set high enough standards for student learning or prepares students to achieve goals after graduation. The schools graduation rate is below the citywide average.

Students have daily instruction in American Sign Language (ASL) and are grouped according to skill level. Teachers encourage students to practice their signing by scheduling voice off days where kids are expected to sign in all their classes. Students also hone their skills in the ASL computer lab where they prepare video presentations and record signing exercises for teachers to review.

All other courses are taught in English with the assistance of sign language interpreters. Class sizes are capped at 18 so students have plenty of open space to communicate with each other. One downside to the schools size is its limited selection of courses. It does not offer chemistry or physics, and trigonometry is the highest level of math taught. For more advanced instruction, students may take classes at Baruch College and La Guardia Community College.

Elective classes include art, creative writing, drumming, film and food nutrition. African Dance is offered through a program sponsored by the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Students also serve as reading and ASL buddies with students in the lower school. Tenth-graders and advanced 9th-grade students take a course in writing and reading sponsored by Baruch College.

The school fields a PSAL team in boys basketball and offers intra-mural options in basketball, volleyball, track and cross-country. Students can participate in after-school clubs such as knitting, academic bowl, chess, and comic books.

Special education: There are self-contained and ICT (Integrated Collaborative Teaching) classes. The school has classes for deaf students with severe disabilities.

College: Each year some graduates attend Gallaudet University, the only college in the world designed to serve deaf and hard-of-hearing students. Other popular choices include La Guardia Community College which has a sign language interpretation program, SUNY at Stony Brook and Johnson & Wales University in Rhode Island.

Admissions: Priority to American Sign Language & English Lower School Students and then to students citywide. Admissions is based on an interview, review of a writing sample as well as the applicants grades, test scores and attendance. (Laura Zingmond, November 2012)

About the students

Enrollment
179
Asian
1.7%
Black
30.7%
Hispanic
61.5%
White
4.5%
Other
1.7%
Free or reduced priced lunch
89%
Students with disabilities
25%
English language learners
5%
Male
27%

About the school

Shared campus?
Yes
This school shares the building with its Lower School
Uniforms required?
No
Metal detectors?
No
How crowded? (Full is 100%)
55%
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

Attendance

Average daily attendance
89%
85% Citywide Average
How many students are chronically absent?
42%
42% Citywide Average

Is this school safe?

How many teachers say order and discipline are maintained at this school?
89%
77% Citywide Average
How many students think bullying happens most or all of the time at this school?
27%
37% Citywide Average
How many students say they feel safe in the hallways, bathrooms and locker rooms?
92%
85% Citywide Average
How many students say most students treat each other with respect?
62%
57% Citywide Average

About the leadership

Years of principal experience at this school
8.0
5.3 Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?
66%
80% Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal has a clear vision for this school?
77%
85% Citywide Average
How many teachers trust the principal?
55%
80% Citywide Average

About the teachers

How many teachers have 3 or more years of experience teaching?
68%
73% Citywide Average
Teacher attendance
99%
97% Citywide Average
How many teachers say they would recommend this school to other families?
51%
81% Citywide Average
How many teachers think the staff collaborate to make this school run effectively?
77%
86% Citywide Average
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

Arts offerings

This school has 2 dedicated spaces for Music and Theater
This school has 0 licensed arts teacher in Dance, Music, Theater or Visual arts

Engaging curriculum?

How many students say this school offers enough programs, classes and activities to keep them interested?
50%
72% Citywide Average
How many students say they are challenged in most or all of their classes?
45%
54% Citywide Average
How many students say the programs, classes and activities here encourage them to develop talent outside academics?
58%
71% Citywide Average
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

How many graduate?

How many students graduate in 4 years?
86%
77% Citywide Average
How many graduates earn Advanced Regents diplomas?
7%
11% Citywide Average
How many students drop out?
3%
10% Citywide Average

Are students prepared for college?

How many students graduate with test scores high enough to enroll at CUNY without remedial help?
21%
32% Citywide Average
How many students take a college-level course or earn a professional certificate?
40%
41% Citywide Average
How many graduate and enter college within 18 months?
55%
63% Citywide Average
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

How does this school serve English Language Learners?

How many English language learners graduate in 4 years?
86%
65% Citywide Average

How does this school serve students with disabilities?

This school offers self-contained classes
This school offers team teaching (ICT)
How many students say that students with disabilities are included in all activities?
84%
68% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say this school offers enough activities and services for their children's needs?
76%
87% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say this school works to achive the goals of their students' IEPs?
100%
91% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say they are satisfied with the IEP development process at this school?
100%
90% Citywide Average
How many special ed students graduate in 4 years?
73%
60% Citywide Average
For more information about our data sources, see About Our Data

Programs and Admissions

English/American Sign Language Dual Language Environment
Admissions Method: Screened
Program Description

Students partake in a 4 year ASL program graduating with a proficiency in the language.

Academics

Language Courses

American Sign Language

Advanced Placement (AP) courses

AP Biology, AP English

Sports

Coed PSAL teams

Stunt

Read about admissions, academics, and more at this school on the NYCDOE’s School Finder
NYC Department of Education: School Finder

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Location

223 East 23 Street
Manhattan NY 10010
Gramercy (District 2)

Contact

Phone
917-326-6668
Principal
Watfa Shama
Parent Coordinator
Delta Calderon