Queens School Of Inquiry For Grades 6-12 Boasts 100 Percent College Acceptance Rate
Ilana Kohen entered the Queens School of Inquiry (QSI), an early-college secondary school in Flushing, when she was in 6th grade. By the 9th grade, she was taking college-level coursework there, and as an 11th grader, she began taking courses at Queens College. After earning 45 tuition-free college credits, she enrolled at QC this past fall as an upper sophomore.
“At QSI, I learned that you can achieve a lot even at a young age,” says the Flushing resident, a psychology major who hopes to become a dentist. “I gained confidence and expanded my horizons. The experience changed my life.”
Among the ethnically diverse QSI student body, 15% speak English as a second language. From 14 to 16% are in a special education program, and most are the first in their family to be accepted into college. Among incoming 6th graders, 39% scored below the state-wide standard for English, and 28% did not meet Math standards. Yet of the 67 students who graduated from QSI last June, 94% applied to college, and all were accepted, including two who were granted admission to top-ranked Penn State.
When it opened in 2005, QSI was one of three early-college schools for grades 6-12 in the city developed through the collaboration of a CUNY college, the New York City Department of Education and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Since then, other CUNY colleges have created early-college schools.
Queens College educators, including the dean of education and assistant provost, played a major role in developing QSI from its earliest, planning stages. Serving on a QC/QSI committee, they met regularly to determine the sequence of coursework and, as the school grew, acted as advisors. QC faculty continue to be involved, conducting research at QSI, refining curricula, and
teaching its students.
With its small classes – total enrollment is 588 students – and individualized support,
QSI offers young people who might not otherwise graduate high school the opportunity and assistance they need to obtain a diploma and credit toward a college degree. Among the classes QSI students take at QC are English, Math, Spanish, History, Political Science, Acting, Art and Computer Science. Qualified 12th graders can also choose among other, elective courses.
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QSI students perform strongly compared to their peers at other public schools. For example, last year more than 80% of their 8th graders passed the Biology and Algebra Regents. Students at other schools don’t usually take these exams until 9th or 10th grade.
“The expectation is that every child from QSI graduates ready for success in college,” observes QSI Principal Meredith Inbal, one of the school’s original teachers. “If you give students real challenges and opportunities, they will meet them.”
She adds that early-college schools– particularly the 6-12 model – are very successful in meeting their goals. All classes focus on inquiry-based learning, a student-centered, teacher-guided approach that encourages real-world investigation. The environment is geared toward building skills, such as researching and note-taking, that prepares students for higher education.
Incoming 6th graders who are from Flushing and surrounding neighborhoods are chosen by lottery, and the school’s 9th graders apply from all over the city through the normal high-school admissions process. QSI reviews grades and attendance, but no exam or interview is required. Admission is competitive since space is limited.
“The college has been so supportive,” says Inbal. “Major faculty research projects have come out of our partnership with QC.” One is the Career Institute, which focuses on career development as well as college readiness beginning in the 6th grade.
“A number of QSI teachers earned their education degrees at QC,” says Suzanne Solomon, Queens College’s acting liaison to the school. “For example, all of QSI’s Math teachers, including Assistant Principal Eric Glatz, are graduates of the TIME 2000 program.
Queens College educates more teachers in the New York metropolitan area than any other college, offering scores of rigorous programs to prepare teachers and other school professionals for New York State certification. In addition to QSI, the college’s Education Division has built ongoing partnerships with such local schools as Louis Armstrong Middle School; Townsend Harris High School; Queens College School for Math Science, and Technology; Queens School of Teaching; John Bowne High School, and Public School 201. For more information, visit the department’s web site at: http://www.qc.cuny.edu/academics/degrees/education/Pages/default.aspx