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231 (29Q231) December 2010
Fact Sheet: Proposed Phase-out and Replacement Scenario for I.S. 231 Magnetech 2000
Overview Based on an extensive review of data and community feedback, the New York City Department of Education (DOE)
has determined that I.S. 231 is unable to turnaround and cannot provide a high-quality education to its students. The DOE is proposing that I.S. 231 be phased out and replaced.
Proposing to phase out and replace a school is the most difficult decision we make. We are proposing this action because we think it’s the right thing for current and future students in this community. The phase out process would be gradual and happen over the next several years. The school would complete phasing out in June 2013. The replacement process would also be gradual. Two or three new schools would be opened in the building where I.S. 231 is located and would begin enrolling sixth grade students next September. The new schools would gradually grow as I.S. 231’s enrollment decreases. The new schools would serve the same area as I.S. 231 and would be located in the same building that currently houses I.S. 231. We hope you share our view that we can—and must—do better for students. The DOE will continue to work closely with I.S. 231 staff and families to ensure that all students receive the support they need to succeed in school.
Summary I.S. 231 Magnetech 2000 has struggled for years. Last year, only 25% of students were on grade level in English,
and only 21% of students were on grade level in math—putting I.S. 231 among the lowest-performing schools in the entire City. I.S. 231 earned an overall D grade last year on its Progress Report, with D grades in both the Student Progress and Student Performance sub-sections. The school did earn a B grade on the School Environment sub-section. I.S. 231 staff and families have worked hard to improve the school. The DOE also provided considerable support to I.S. 231, including extensive training for school leaders and teachers, helping the school restructure into small learning communities, and working with the school to secure partnerships with community-based organizations. Unfortunately, these efforts have not turned the school around. During conversations with the I.S. 231 community, we heard concerns about how the school is not challenging or properly supporting its students and a lack of communication between parents and the school. While the community had some positive comments about the school’s leadership and recent improvement in school culture, we do not believe these components are enough to move I.S. 231 in the right direction.
What would the proposal mean for current students?
If this proposal is approved, I.S. 231 would be phased out gradually over the next few years. However, current sixth and seventh students would stay at I.S. 231 as it phases out. Below are the enrollment plans for current I.S. 231 students, if I.S. 231 is phased out and replaced.
Current sixth, seventh, and eighth grade students would complete middle school at I.S. 231.
I.S. 231 would no longer admit new sixth grade students after the end of this school year. Next school year, I.S. 231 would serve students in grades seven and eight. Then, during the following school year, I.S. 231 would only serve students in grade eight. Phase out would be complete in June 2013.
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I.S. 231 Has Struggled for Years
The overwhelming majority of I.S. 231 students remain below grade level in English Language Arts and math. Last year, only 25% of students were performing on grade level in English—putting I.S. 231 in the bottom 44% of schools citywide and making I.S. 231 the lowest-performing middle school in District 29. Last year, only 21% of students were performing on grade level in math—putting I.S. 231 in the bottom 12% of middle schools in the entire City and again making I.S. 231 the lowest-performing middle school in District 29. With so few students performing at grade level, I.S. 231 students must make substantial progress to get back on track. Unfortunately, I.S. 231 is in the bottom quarter of middle schools citywide in terms of learning growth in English and in the bottom 5% of middle schools citywide in terms of learning growth in math. If such poor performance continues, I.S. 231 students will fall even further behind their peers in other schools. I.S. 231 earned a D grade last year on its Progress Report, including D grades on the Student Progress and Student Performance sub-sections. I.S. 231 earned an overall grade of C in 2008-2009 and an overall grade of D in 2007-2008, making this the third consecutive year that I.S. 231 earned a grade of C or lower on its annual Progress Report. I.S. 231 was rated “Proficient” on its most recent Quality Review in 2009-2010. During Quality Reviews, experienced educators spend several days visiting a school, observing classrooms, and talking to staff, students, and parents. Schools are rated on a four-point scale with “well-developed” as the highest rating. During the 2008-2009, the school’s attendance rate was 92%, equal to the average attendance rate for middle schools citywide, but still ranking I.S. 231 in the bottom quarter for District 29 when it comes to middle schools. Safety issues have been a concern at the school. On the 2010 New York City School Survey, one in three students—33%— reported feeling unsafe in the hallways, bathrooms, and locker rooms at I.S. 231. Parents also worry about the safety of their children at I.S. 231, with 24% reporting that they felt their children were unsafe at school.
Demand for the School is Low, Suggesting that Families Are Seeking Better Options
I.S. 231 is a zoned school, but only 35% of zoned students attend. This means that 65% of students who are guaranteed a seat at the school choose to enroll elsewhere.
Despite Our Best Efforts, Performance at I.S. 231 Remains Low
We recognize that I.S.231 staff members have worked hard to improve the school, but the school has not yet turned around. To help the school’s efforts to improve performance, the DOE has provided numerous supports to I.S.231 including: Leadership Support: Offering the principal extensive training on using the Quality Review rubric as a tool for school improvement, formative assessments, Coordinated Early Intervention Services (CEIS), and ARIS, and on understanding New York State Education Department Differentiated Accountability (AYP) and essential learning outcomes. Helping the principal develop I.S. 231’s Comprehensive Education Plan and set school-wide goals. Connecting administrators with other schools to learn best practices that could be replicated at I.S. 231. Instructional Support: Training for teachers on individualized instruction, comprehension strategies, teaching English language learners, analyzing data and using it to inform instructional decisions, aligning formative assessments to standards, and classroom management strategies. Working with I.S. 231 to implement Action 100, a program that helps educators identify students’ level of understanding in individual subjects and strategies to help students improve. Restructuring the school into small learning communities. Helping I.S. 231 reorganize its school day into double period time blocks in order to maximize the time students spend on lessons. Operational Support: Guidance on implementing grant funding: $35,000 was used for coaching arts teachers, integrating the arts into instruction, partnering with cultural groups, math tutoring programs, teacher training, and trips to Brookhaven
NYC DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION
National Science Laboratory and Calabro Airport; $27,000 was given to the school to start a bilingual Haitian program; and a $50,000 RESO-A grant was issued for upgrading technology. Extensive budget guidance to help administrators align resources to meet school needs. Coaching for school staff on human resources, recruiting and retaining talented teachers, building management, and operational compliance issues. Student Support: Helping the school implement Reach for Tomorrow, which is a computer program that allows students to work independently on math skills, and peer mediation/conflict resolution programs such as the National Guard Program for at-risk boys and the Gifted Empowered Mature Scholars (GEMS) program for at-risk girls. Working with the school to secure student incentives for improved attendance; incentives included flights in single-engine planes with the Young Eagles at Calabro Airport, the opportunity to participate in a DNA extraction at the Brookhaven Laboratory, and the chance for a free summer program at the University of California-San Diego. Supporting enrichment partnerships with the Lincoln Center Theatre, Manhattan Chamber of Dance, Flushing Arts Council, Center for Culture, Studio in a School, Classroom Inc. Chelsea Bank Program, and Urban Advantage.
We Know that We Can Do Better
Like most New York City public schools, I.S. 231 serves a high-need population: 11% of students require special education services, 4% are English Language Learners (ELLs), and 78% of students qualify for free or reduced-price lunch. But other schools serving similar students have achieved better results.
At Jonas Bronck Academy, a Bronx school, 16% of students require special education services, 11% of students are ELLs, and 85% of students qualify for free or reduced-price lunch. At that school, 40% of students are on grade level in English, and 60% of students are on grade level in math. In addition, Jonas Bronck ranks in the top 43% of schools citywide in helping students make progress in English and in the top 13% of schools citywide in helping students make progress in math. At M.S. 319 Maria Teresa, a Washington Heights school, 6% of students require special education services, 37% are ELLs, and 99% qualify for free or reduced-price lunch. At that school, 22% of students are on grade level in English, and 44% are on grade level in math. In addition, M.S. 319 ranks in the top quarter of schools citywide in helping students make progress in math. While all students are still not where we’d like them to be, these schools are getting better results while serving a similar mix of students to I.S. 231.
On October 27, 2010, District 29 Superintendent Lenon Murray held a School Leadership Team meeting and a parent meeting at the school to discuss what is working at I.S. 231, what isn’t working, and how to work together to better serve students. Approximately 40 parents attended. While they had some positive comments about the school’s administration, they also had concerns about the school. Parents said:
The school is not challenging or properly supporting its students; there is a lack of student motivation and encouragement. There is a lack of communication between parents and the school; as a result, parents do not have strong partnerships with teachers. Overall parent involvement must be improved.
The School Leadership Team expressed some similar concerns, but highlighted recent improvements in school culture and programs. However, these efforts are not enough to move I.S. 231 in the right direction.
Supporting Current and Future Students
We Remain Focused on Helping I.S. 231 Students to Succeed
During the proposed phase out, the DOE will build on our past efforts to help the school by:
NYC DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION
Providing teacher training around issues including curriculum planning, improving teaching practices, and tailoring instruction to individual student needs. Fostering opportunities for teachers and administrators to connect with colleagues in other more successful schools, allowing them to learn from one another, improve teaching, and better support students. Facilitating partnerships with community-based organizations to support youth development initiatives at the school.
Plans for new schools for the I.S. 231 Community
As we work together to create new schools for the I.S. 231 community, we will keep in mind what had worked at I.S. 231 and do our best to incorporate those positive elements into I.S. 231’s replacement plans. For example: We will work with the community to help them seek grants and partnership opportunities that would be beneficial to the school and its students; and We will consider what elements of the school structure are working and do our best to include those features in a replacement school, if I.S. 231 is phased out.
What You Can Expect
In January, we will host a joint public hearing with the District 29 Community Education Council and the I.S. 231 School Leadership Team, among others. As soon as the hearing has been scheduled, we will let you know and will also share with you the formal proposal to phase out I.S. 231. Replacement plans for I.S. 231 will be published in a separate proposal. During the hearing, community members, including parents and students, will be able to share their thoughts on the phase out and replacement proposals. The proposals to phase out and replace I.S. 231 will be voted on by the Panel for Educational Policy (PEP), which is composed of members appointed by Mayor Bloomberg and the five Borough Presidents, during a public meeting scheduled for the first week of February 2011. During this meeting, the public will have another opportunity to comment on the proposals. If the PEP approves the proposals, I.S. 231 will not accept new students next school year and replacement schools will begin growing in the building, starting next September.
Sharing Your Concerns and Questions
The DOE is seeking your feedback on the proposal. We will record your comments and include them in our analysis of public feedback, which is presented to the Panel for Educational Policy prior to their vote on the proposal. Please submit any comments you have at: Phone: 212-374-7621 Email: D29Proposals@schools.nyc.gov We also encourage you to visit the website created to serve I.S. 231 at http://schools.nyc.gov/community/planning/changes/queens/IS231. We will update that website regularly with important dates, answers to frequently asked questions, and new information as it becomes available.
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