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Four new academies. One great education.
Transforming Albany High School into smaller schools with greater opportunities

Four decades ago, a comprehensive high school serving all students in the City School District of Albany was the right plan at the right time.

 

Today, students that attend an Albany High are assigned to one of four smaller learning communities, or academies, with a unique theme:

Students had the opportunity to decide which academy they would prefer to attend by ranking their first, second, third and fourth choices on an application that was sent to their homes in December.

 

Applications were due Jan. 31, and 1,620 students entered the lottery. The lottery was conducted Feb. 11 and all students who entered received their first choice of academy.

 

Students that did not apply for the lottery by the Jan. 31 application deadline will be assigned randomly across the four academies. Check out the most recent list of Frequently Asked Questions, including new information for students in private, parochial and charter schools.

 

The district hosted a series of public forums throughout January to provide parents, students and community members opportunities to learn more about the new lottery at Albany High School. Forums were held Jan. 6 at North Albany Academy, Jan. 19 at Giffen Memorial Elementary School, Jan. 20 at Stephen and Harriet Myers Middle School, Jan. 24 at Albany High School and Jan. 25 at William S. Hackett Middle School. You can download the PowerPoint from these forums in .pdf format.

 

While each academy will offer electives tied to its own theme, all will offer the same core classes in English, math, science and social studies. Students will take their core courses within their own academy, but can take advanced elective classes in other academies. For example, a student in Innovation Academy -- which offers advanced electives in science and technology -- will be able to take a playwriting class in the Discovery Academy, which offers advanced English electives.

 

Each academy will have up to 600 students, its own prinicipal, four teams of teachers and a "theme" coordinator. These smaller academies will offer more demanding coursework and extra support for all students. Follow these links for more information:

Smaller learning communities like Albany High's new academies were at the center of the research and planning that the current High School Restructuring Committee has done since it was formed in the fall of 2009 (read below for more information about this committee of district and community representatives).

 

Reorganizing Albany High was a top priority in the district’s 2008 strategic plan, “A Vision for Tomorrow. The process gained increased urgency in January 2010 when the State Education Department identified Albany High as a "persistently lowest-achieving" school because of the school’s lagging performance in math and English language arts (ELA).

 

A $7.5 million federal grant is bolstering the transformation at Albany HIgh. The district continues to work with state education officials to gain financial support from the state for these efforts. The district also is a partner in another federal grant that supports the creation of smaller learning communities.

 

High School Redesign Committee

A committee of district and community representatives meets monthly to discuss and plan for a broad range of issues relating to the redesigning Albany High School and the new magnet structure that will be implemented beginning next fall. You can download a PowerPoint presentation outlining the alignment of core and elective courses in each of the four magnet academies that will be implemented in 2011-12, and background information on the goals and objectives that guided the decisions.

 

The next meeting of the High School Redesign Committee is Tuesday, May 10 from 5:30-7 p.m. in the north cafeteria (download the agenda).

 

You also can downloard minutes from previous High School Redesign Committee meetings during the 2010-11 school year:

In addition to the full committee, there also are numerous subcommittees addressing areas such as currciulum, parent advocacy, social-emotional wellness and more. To find out more about how you can get involved, contact Mary Mathai at 454-3987, ext. 920 or mmathai@albany.k12.ny.us.

 

Alternative Education Think Tank

Another important part of the restructuring plan is the work of the Alternative Education Think Tank, also formed in the fall of 2009 to address another key element of the district's strategic plan.

 

The think tank is comprised of 20 members of the community and district staff and has been meeting monthly, both as a full committee and in three subcommittees, to analyze each of the 14 alternative-education programs operating during the 2009-10 school year and evaluate best practices locally and nationally.

 

After more than a year's work, the think tank in August issued a series of recommendations to address the needs of students at risk of failing or dropping out of school. You can read the committee's recommendations by clicking here. Think-tank members continue to be involved in the process of reorganizing Albany High to assure that its new structure meets the needs of at-risk students.

 

The mission of the City School District of Albany is to educate and nurture all students to be responsible citizens, critical thinkers and lifelong learners to successfully compete in the global community by providing an academically rigorous and safe environment in partnership with parents, students and the community. The district serves about 8,600 students in 15 elementary, middle and high schools. In addition to neighborhood schools, the district includes several magnet schools and programs, as well as other innovative academic opportunities for students.

 

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