The Beacon School

Ruth Lacey
227 West 61 Street, NY NY 10023

The Mission

The Beacon School is a portfolio-based, public high school in New York City which offers a dynamic, inquiry-based curriculum that exceeds standards set by the New York State Regents. Students complete a series of performance-based assessment tasks in lieu of the Regents exams. Technology and the arts are infused throughout the curriculum so that students can maximize the way they see, represent and have an impact upon their world.

Coursework is designed to promote active learning by focusing on critical analysis, discussion and debate with an emphasis on analytical writing, revision and publication. Beacon fosters a collaborative learning environment that nourishes intellectual diversity, prepares students to attend an institution of higher learning and encourages them to become active citizens in their larger communities.

The Class of 2009

The Class of 2009 is a cohort of 250 students. Our students are attracted to Beacon for its relative intimacy (1,146 students and 67 teachers) and the strength of its core academic, technology and arts curriculum. Approximately 49% identify as Caucasian, 22% as Hispanic, 17% as African-American, and 6% as Asian. Not included in the above statistics are the Beacon students who did not report ethnicity.

Higher Education

The Beacon School’s college preparatory curriculum prepares students for continued academic success after graduation.

Approximately 96% of graduates pursue higher education:
88% go on to 4-year schools
8% go on to 2-year schools

Graduation Requirements

To receive a Beacon diploma (equivalent to a New York State Regents Diploma) students must complete 44 semester-long courses including the following distribution requirements:

8 English 1 Computer
8 Social Studies 1 Health
6 Mathematics 2 Arts
6 Lab Science 4 Physical Education
4 Foreign Language or mastery of third year level

Additional Requirements

Advisory/Guidance – Academic advisory meeting for 45 minutes, once a week, every semester.
Community Service – Students are required to complete one semester (50 hours of service) in the tenth grade.
English Language Arts Regents Exam - Students must receive a passing grade of 65 or higher to graduate with a Beacon Diploma.


Beacon uses performance-based assessments that ask students to solve problems, create products, and articulate their acquired knowledge. Additionally, traditional testing is used in most classes. Students must present their cumulative work annually to a faculty committee for evaluation. A record of their performance-based assessment achievement is sent to colleges at mid-year.

Grading Scale & Transcript

When evaluating a student's academic record, it is important to consider the unique features of the Beacon program. Students take courses for which they can receive the following grades:
A (94-100) A- (90-93) B+ (87-89)
B (84-86) B- (80-83) C+ (77-79) NC (0-64)
C (70-79) C- (70-73) D (65-69)

+ and - grades implemented as of the 2008-2009 school year.

Grades in courses not given under the auspices of Beacon should appear on the transcript with the notation “P” (pass) or “NC” (No Credit). Since The Beacon School focuses on collaborative learning, GPA and RANK are not calculated.

Most Demanding Courses

Advanced Placement courses are available in science, mathematics and foreign language. In English and history we offer rigorous college preparatory electives in the 12th grade. Extensive research, critical analysis and writing are required components of each course.

English: Contemporary British Literature, Hip Hop Literature, Literature and Media Theory, The Philosophical Journey, Short Stories, Sports Literature, Shakespeare, Logic and Rhetoric, Modern American Drama

History: Global Cold War, American West, India from Independence, On The Move, Modern American Foreign Policy, Modern American Social History, International Political Economy, Globalization and the Third World, Modern China

Science (courses with asterisks are one semester): AP Biology, AP Chemistry, Evolution and Genetics*, Immunology, Physics*, Tropical Ecology*, Topics in Bio, Chemistry of Cooking*

Mathematics: Pre-Calculus, Calculus, AP Calculus or Advanced Math Applications.

Foreign Language (highest levels):
French: Level 3 (equivalent to French 5/6 on transcript)
Spanish: Level 4 with AP Independent Study, or AP Spanish
Chinese: Level 3 (equivalent to Chinese 5/6 on transcript)

Electives: Advanced Digital Film, Advanced Photo, Advanced Theater Arts, Creative Writing, Studio Art Honors