The need for more high quality schools in the Rockaways is apparent.

THE Academic Need

Challenge Prep Central will be located in CSD 27’s Far Rockaway community, where economic and educational conditions are dire. More than one-third of Far Rockaway’s children live below the poverty level. More than 7 of 10 residents are high school dropouts and only 23% of 9th and 10th grade-age students are enrolled in school.[1] Demographically, the school’s student population is expected to reflect that of Challenge Prep, where more than 80% of students are Black/African American, 12% are Hispanic/Latino and 84% of students qualify for free or reduced lunch. Challenge Prep Central will provide a strong academic option for parents in a community where district schools are struggling. In 2015, only 30% and 34% of CSD 27 students, respectively, were proficient on the state ELA and math tests. Among Black/African American students, only 18% and 19%, respectively, were proficient on the ELA and math tests. 

While the proposed school will not be a replication of Challenge Prep, Challenge Prep Central intends to adapt key elements of the Challenge Prep academic model. Challenge Prep was granted a full renewal in 2014 and has outperformed CSD 27 in ELA and math during each year that its students were tested. In so doing, the school overcame extraordinary challenges resulting from the devastation of Hurricane Sandy. Challenge Prep’s wait list of 1,120 families is additional evidence of its success and of the desire for more charter school options in Far Rockaway.

Challenge Prep Central intends to serve students from throughout Far Rockaway, without limitation to any specific sub-category of students. Accordingly, it will recruit students aggressively across all neighborhoods in Far Rockaway and will implement an academic program designed to educate a diverse student population.

Enrollment and retention of SWDs: Challenge Prep Central’s efforts to recruit SWDs will include: (1) print advertisements with information about the school’s Special Education program, including its inclusive environment, Integrated Co-Teaching (ICT) classrooms and other resources; (2) open-house information sessions to build awareness of the school among parents of SWDs, and (3) one-on-one meetings with parents of SWDs who express interest in Challenge Prep Central. Regarding retention, Challenge Prep will educate students with disabilities in the least restrictive environment possible and will provide support services to students to ensure that Individual Education Plan (IEP) mandates and measurable goals are met. Challenge Prep Central will have an ICT classroom on each grade level, and Special Education Coordinators will work with classroom and special education teachers to ensure that the needs of SWDs are met.

Enrollment and retention of ELLS: Challenge Prep Central will make proactive efforts to build awareness of its programs and its supportive school community throughout CSD 27 neighborhoods where large numbers of ELLs reside. Outreach materials will be printed in multiple languages and will be widely distributed. Challenge Prep Central will also establish and maintain relationships with CBOs and individuals working with or providing services to ELLs. For retention, the school will implement several initiatives to support ELL students including an English as a Second Language (ESL) program to provide instruction in English with native language support through designated ESL teachers using Sheltered English Immersion, along with blended and project-based learning and other instructional methods that enable students to demonstrate achievement in non-traditional ways.

Enrollment and retention of FRL students: Challenge Prep Central expects to enroll a student population comprising at least 80% FRL students, which is similar to that of the district. Challenge Prep Central’s recruitment strategy will resemble that of Challenge Prep, which recruits from the same community and where 84% of students are FRL. Regarding retention, the school’s use of the workshop model, commitment to data-informed instruction and differentiated instruction and RtI model will ensure that the needs of FRL students are met. 

[1] U.S. Census Bureau’s 2008-2010 American Community Survey Population Division- NYC Department of City Planning (Nov 2011)