While CACS will be located in the Woodhaven neighborhood of CSD 27, it expects to serve a population of students that is reflective of the entire district, which includes the southeastern Queens neighborhoods of Ozone Park, Lindenwood, Baisley Park, Richmond Hill, Howard Beach, and the Rockaway peninsula. Academically, children have struggled in CSD 27. The percentage of CSD 27 students who were proficient in ELA on the 2014 and 2015 NYS assessments was only 28% and 30% respectively. In math, the percentage of CSD 27 students who were proficient in 2014 and 2015 was only 33% and 34% respectively.
Also, the district has substantial performance gaps among demographic subgroups. In 2015, the percentage of Black/African American and Hispanic/Latino students who were proficient on the state ELA was lower by 29 percentage points and 22 percentage points, respectively, than that of White students. In math, the performance gap was 33 percentage points and 23 percentage points, respectively.
The percentages of CSD 27’s LEP students who were proficient on the ELA exam was only 3%–i.e. a full 29 percentage points lower than English Proficient students—and the percentage of Students with Disabilities (SWDs) proficient in ELA was only 7%–i.e. 29 percentage points lower than General Education Students. In math, the percentage of proficient LEP students was only 10%–i.e. 26 points lower than English Proficient students—and the percentage of proficient SWDs was only 12%–i.e. a full 28 percentage points lower than General Education students. CACS will offer families in CSD 27 a high-quality educational alternative to the district’s underperforming public schools.
CACS expects that most of its students will be Woodhaven residents. Woodhaven is an economically-challenged community, and CACS’ founders believe that expanding educational opportunities is the key to improving economic outcomes for Woodhaven families. In 2013, 25% of Woodhaven/Ozone Park/Howard Beach residents had annual incomes under $25,000. Approximately 21.8% of female-headed households in Woodhaven/Ozone Park/Howard Beach also reported living below the poverty level. The link between economic disadvantage and lack of educational achievement is striking. Roughly 15% of residents have had “no high school” education and another roughly 15% reported having only “some high school” education. By providing a new and high-quality educational option for children in Woodhaven and its surrounding communities, CACS will help to reverse this cycle of educational and economic failure.
There are few strong educational alternatives to traditional public schools in CSD 27. While there are currently two charter schools in CSD 27 (with another scheduled to open in 2015), neither is located near Woodhaven. CACS will provide a much needed public charter school option for families in CSD 27, and the only charter school option for families in or near Woodhaven.