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About Achievement First Amistad High School

580 Dixwell Avenue
New Haven, CT 06511
Phone: 203-772-1092
Fax: 203-772-1784

Achievement First Amistad High School is a college-preparatory public charter school in New Haven, Connecticut. Achievement First Amistad High provides a life-altering education that prepares students for the opportunities and responsibilities they will face in college and beyond. The school was founded in 2006 based on one innovative premise: close the achievement gap by providing a prep-school-quality education to inner-city students. Achievement First Amistad High combines rigorous courses and high expectations with a host of support services more common at affluent and private high schools, including SAT prep, intensive college counseling, tutoring and explicit character education. Achievement First Amistad High is recognized as a national model of education reform, proving what is truly possible when urban students receive a world-class education.

Achievement First Amistad High has one goal: 100% of students will be accepted into four-year colleges and universities. The school prepares students to meet this goal by providing a challenging course of studies and supporting students in their growth outside the classroom. In the classrooms at Achievement First Amistad High, all students are prepared to take responsibility for their own learning. As students progress from grade nine to 12, instruction shifts from a teacher-directed approach to student-led exchanges of ideas. Outside of class, students grow as athletes, volunteers, leaders and responsible community members through participation in the school’s extracurricular, athletic and arts programs. Please visit our high school page for more information.

School Description

Opened: August 2006 (with ninth graders)
Grades: Nine to 12
Community: Urban
School Type: Public charter
School Year: Three trimesters
Faculty/Student Services: 32
Administration: Four
Faculty with Advanced Degrees: 53%

Student Population

Number of Students in 2015-16: 498
Student Demographics in 2015-16:
48% Boys, 52% Girls
98% African American or Hispanic
74% Qualify for Free and Reduced-Price Lunch
Average Daily Attendance: 97%
College Acceptance Rate (2015):


Achievement First Amistad High School is based on an innovative premise: closing the achievement gap by providing a prep-school quality education to inner-city students. Achievement First Amistad High School combines rigorous academics and high expectations with a host of supports, including SAT prep, intensive college counseling, tutoring, explicit character education and a school culture in which it is “cool” to be smart. Key facets of the Achievement First Amistad High School program include:

  • Rigorous course of studies for all students: At Achievement First Amistad High School, every student is on a college-preparatory track. With college readiness as the paramount goal, we have built our curricula on the concepts, knowledge and skills used and/or developed by Advanced Placement exams, the SAT, the American Diploma Project, the book College Knowledge and actual college courses. All students complete a rigorous course of studies focused on core academics, and acceptance to a four-year college or university is a graduation requirement.
  • Personal attention for each student: As a small school, we can better meet the needs of each individual student. Small class sizes, small case loads for college counselors and small advisories enable us to make sure that no student “falls through the cracks.” Our teachers give students their home or cell phone numbers and make home visits in order to provide the level of support that each student needs.
  • Open communication: Every ninth and 10th-grade student meets with their advisory each morning. Advisories allow our dedicated faculty to check in with students on a more personal level and to reach out to parents if necessary. Additionally, we enable students and parents to check grades online, and we provide every student with an Achievement First email address so that they can easily communicate with teachers.
  • Focused learning environment: One of the biggest obstacles to learning at many urban high schools is a lack of discipline. At Achievement First Amistad High School, our staff works hard to create and maintain a sacred learning environment where all students are focused and engaged and where it is “cool” to be smart.
  • Intensive college counseling: The college application process can be challenging, cumbersome and confusing. We keep our counselor to student ratio low so that each student and family gets the individual attention and support they need to successfully navigate the college application process.
  • Expanding athletics and after-school program: Achievement First Amistad High School has been a member of the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC) since the 2008-09 school year. We offer a range of porograms including volleyball, cross country, soccer, field hockey, basketball and lacrosse. We also offer theater, music and debate.
  • Unique senior year: Achievement First Amistad High School is designed to prepare students for college. One way we do this is by helping them become well-rounded. This includes a senior year in which students have the opportunity to earn college credits from the University of Connecticut, to take electives in areas such as computer programming and to complete internships at local businesses and organizations.
  • Commitment to robust student life programs: While providing a strong academic foundation will always be our first priority, we also realize that our students need opportunities to have varied experiences, including internships, community service and summer programs. In addition, it is important that our students have a fun and memorable high school experience made possible through awards ceremonies, senior privileges, dances and other popular high school rituals.

School Leader

Claire Polcrack is the principal of Achievement First Amistad High School. She joined AF Amistad High in 2009 as an upper school mathematics teacher and has since taught Algebra II, SAT Mathematics, Pre-Calculus, Calculus and A.P. Calculus AB. During the 2012-2013 and 2013-14 school years, her A.P. Calculus classes celebrated 100% pass rates. To prepare for her role as principal, Ms. Polcrack has served as the upper school grade-level chair, mathematics department chair, academic dean and principal-in-residence. She earned her B.A. in mathematics with secondary education certification from Susquehanna University. 

News From Our School 

FOX 61
New Haven Public School Honored for 100% College Acceptance Rate

Achievement First Amistad High's New Building Dedicated

New Haven Charter School Celebrates 100 Percent Acceptance for Graduates

NBC Connecticut
Making the Grade: AF Amistad High

New Haven Register
New Haven Classmates at AF Amistad High Will Attend Yale

News 8
New Haven student's improbable path to Yale

NBC Connecticut
Fair Haven Teen Headed to Yale

Hartford Courant
U.S. News' 20 Best High Schools in Connecticut

News 8
Touching Display of Sportsmanship at State Cross Country Meet

New Haven Independent
Obama Joins MLK on Dixwell

Senior Signing Day 2013

New Haven Register
Seniors at Achievement First Amistad High School in New Haven Announce School Picks

New Haven Register
She's the First Student from AF Amistad High Accepted to Yale

New Haven Register
New Grading System at New Haven's AF Amistad High School Has Student Writing Improving

Graduation 2011

Senior Signing Day 2011

Education = Freedom

Visit Our Schools

We are always eager for visitors to see firsthand the extraordinary teaching and learning taking place in our schoolsClick here to learn more about visiting an Achievement First school.

with AF