J.H.S. 74 Nathaniel Hawthorne

An Insideschools pick
61-15 OCEANIA STREET
QUEENS NY 11364 Map
Phone: (718) 631-6800
Website: Click here
Admissions: Neighborhood school
Principal: Anthony Armstrong
Neighborhood: Bayside
District:26
Grade range: 6-8
Parent Coordinator: CHRISTIN SPAGNOLO
Zoned
Wheelchair Accessible

What's special:

Strong academics with emphasis on arts and writing.

The downside:

No indoor place to play on rainy days.

InsideSchools Review

Our review:

MS 74 is a large middle school boasting strong academics, high attendance rates and an impressive record of sending graduates to competitive high schools. As a neighborhood school that draws most of its students from local elementary schools, MS 74 attracts kids of all skill levels and strives to accommodate diverse needs. Each grade has "special progress" (SP) classes for high achievers, general education classes that cater to a range of abilities, and special education classes.

Anthony Armstrong, who had served as an assistant principal, took over as principal in September 2011. While maintaining much of the program he has focused on improving writing skills by encouraging writing in all classes and yes, he says, "grammar does count."

Armstrong also emphasizes teamwork and collaboration -- among the staff, between staff and students, and among students themselves -- as well as developing partnerships with organization that could bring increased resources to the school. It is "a culture of teamwork" that, one longtime teacher said, could make an already strong school even better.

Located near the Long Island Expressway, MS 74's large 1958 building underwent exterior renovations during the 2008-09 school year. Inside, the tone is calm. Classes are large, with more than 30 students in most, but the high numbers don't seem to impede instruction. Generally, students appear well-behaved and engaged.

Hallways get a bit hectic between periods, but kids keep moving. Armstrong has a relaxed attitude toward students, who casually approach him as he walks the hall. He quickly notices, though, when something is amiss -- a towel lying in the hall, a teacher who is late unlocking a classroom.

For the academic subjects, students are admitted to special progress classes on the basis of test scores and teacher recommendations. Scheduling limitations mean a student must be in special progress classes for all academic subjects or none. One student who was in general classes before being transferred to the special progress group said the advanced classes tend to be better. "The kids are more into the class, they're more sociable, they work more," he said.

Students in special progress classes take earth science and algebra in 8th grade, enabling them to take the Regents. In 8th grade English, one teacher has all her students read Lois Lowry's anti-utopian novel The Giver – but the advanced students also read Anthem, by Ayn Rand (the school got copies from the Ayn Rand Foundation) and compared the idea of community in the two books.

The groups mingle for arts classes, phys ed and lunch.

To ease the transition to middle school, 6th graders have the same teacher for English and social studies. This enables them to spend three periods a day with the same teacher.

Armstrong, a former music teacher, is particularly proud of the arts program, noting that a student who is not academically advanced may be proficient in the arts. All students select an art to study: band, chorus, dance and so on. Spanish is the only foreign language taught.

Fairly sophisticated facilities -- a graphic and design lab, a dance room with mirror and barre, band instruments and a grand piano – bolster instruction. The staff seems adept at getting grants to support some of this work but maintaining and updating the equipment poses a challenge. Along with grants, the school also has enlisted a number of partners for after school programs, arts and other offerings. A downside: There is no indoor space to play, so on rainy days children spend part of their lunch period in the auditorium.

About one third of graduates go on to specialized high schools. The school also encourages students to consider nearby alternatives, including Townsend Harris, Bayside and Cardozo, as well as arts schools.

Special education: The school offers Special Education Teacher Support Services, self-contained classes for students with special needs, and Collaborative Team classes, as well as classes for students with severe developmental disabilities.

Admissions: Neighborhood school. (Gail Robinson, December 2011)

InsideStats

Click tabs above to see school stats

At a glance

Shared campus? No

This school is in its own building

Number of Students 1002

Average Daily Attendance 98%

Uniforms? No

Students at this school

Asian

  
65%

Black

  
6%

Hispanic

  
10%

White

  
18%

Free Lunch

  
51%

Special ed

  
14%

English Language Learners

  
5%

INCOMING STUDENTS' PROFICIENCY: 3.43 2.80 CITYWIDE AVERAGE


1 = Far below grade level 2 = Below grade level 3 = At grade level 4 = Above grade level

Safety & vibe

DO STUDENTS LIKE THE SCHOOL?

How many students say their teachers inspire them to learn?

62% 64% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many students say this school offers enough programs to keep them interested?

85% 78% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

ARE KIDS NICE?

How many students complain about bullying?

66% 71% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many students say students at their school respect one another?

71% 57% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many teachers say order and discipline are maintained in the school?

98% 77% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

DO TEACHERS LIKE THE SCHOOL?

How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?

94% 80% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many teachers would recommend this school to other parents?

96% 79% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

ARE CLASSES BIG?

Number of students in an average english class

32 26 CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many students are chronically absent?

3% 24% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Academics

Percent of students who scored 3 or 4 on the 2014 math exam

75% 25% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Percent of students who scored 3 or 4 on the 2014 ela exam

63% 22% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Percent of students who scored 3 or 4 on the 2014 science exam

83% 53% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

HS Prep

How many 8th graders pass high school regents exams?

Percent of 8th graders who take and pass the algebra regents:

44% 21% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Percent of 8th graders who take and pass a science regents:

44% 14% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How do graduates do in 9th grade?

Percent who pass all their classes freshman year:

96% 85% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Special ed & ELL

How well does this school serve students with disabilities?

Percent of self-contained students who scored 3 or 4 on the 2014 math exam:

19% 2% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Percent of self-contained students who scored 3 or 4 on the 2014 ELA exam:

3% 1% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Percent of ICT students who scored 3 or 4 on the 2014 math exam:

15% 5% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Percent of ICT students who scored 3 or 4 on the 2014 ELA exam:

15% 4% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Percent of SETSS students who scored 3 or 4 on the 2014 math exam:

41% 7% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Percent of SETSS students who scored 3 or 4 on the 2014 ELA exam:

34% 6% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How well does this school serve English language learners?

Percent of ell students who scored 3 or 4 on the 2014 ELA exam:

15% 2% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Percent of former ell students who scored 3 or 4 on the 2014 ELA exam:

48% 13% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Comments

Please post comments

  • Give specific examples. Tell us why this school rocks (or doesn't)
  • No profanity. No racial or ethnic slurs. No personal attacks
  • Criticism is fine but don't be nasty.
  • Flag inappropriate comments. (Hover your cursor over comments to see flag)