Frederick Douglass Academy VIII Middle School

An Insideschools pick
1400 PENNSYLVANIA AVENUE
BROOKLYN NY 11239 Map
Phone: (718) 348-2465
Website: Click here
Admissions: Selective, District 19
Principal: Yolanda Martin
Neighborhood: East New York
District: 19
Grade range: 6-8
Parent Coordinator: Fatimah Mitchel Muhamma
Unzoned
Screened

What's special:

Orderly, high-performing school, with strong arts and academics

The downside:

Far from the subway; early lunch and infrequent access to school yard

InsideSchools Review

Our review:

Located in the shadow of the huge Spring Creek housing development, Frederick Douglass Academy VIII offers a safe, stimulating environment for children who travel from throughout District 19 for an education that allows them to explore the arts as well as academics.

At FDA VIII, like others in the loose network of Frederick Douglass Academy schools, students are known as scholars and classes are named after famous colleges. Teachers and administrators know each student and parent well—and scholars know they must follow the rules or risk being called out for demerits or detention. "We're very discipline-oriented," said Principal Yolanda Martin. "Kids can't learn in chaos; they can't feel safe in chaos."

Each morning begins with students reciting the FDA creed, which stresses "civilized behavior." In a 6th-grade class, we saw a writing lesson in which students described how they were incorporating the creed's tenets into their everyday lives. Whether wearing maroon sweaters and polo shirts, or sweat pants and a tee shirt for gym class, students were well-turned out and polite, actively engaged in the lessons.

Good behavior is expected but that doesn't mean that the middle-schoolers are expected to be silent. There was loud and lively discussion in many classes, with students working together on experiments, sharing their solutions for math problems, or critiquing one another's presentations in French class.

Two out of the four 8th-grade classes take math and science Regents exams for high school credit, as well as the French proficiency exam. Test prep begins early in the year—in October—with Monday and Wednesday afternoons dedicated to building skills after school.

It's not all academics, however. FDA VIII got a grant from the Matisse Foundation to expand the arts. It offers electives in visual arts, drama, dance, string instruments, drumming and debate club. Students are introduced to different arts forms in 6th grade and then choose to specialized in 7th grade. Average class size for academics is 25-28 in FDA VIII but the arts classes are much smaller.

To expand student horizons beyond East New York, in 2012, 30 students went on a 10-day trip to Europe, touring London, Spain and France; in 2010 a group of 50 students and parents went to Ghana.

FDA VIII occupies the fourth floor and one wing of the third floor in PS 346. The shared gym is on the small side but students also use the sports center at the Spring Creek housing complex. There is a new dance studio, a visual arts studio, and a music room, but no library. A downside of the shared space is that kids eat lunch very early at FDA VIII, at 10:18. The cafeteria is too small for everyone to eat together so 8th graders eat in a room across the hall. There is a large school yard but students rarely go out at lunch time, they said. The principal attributed that to a lack of school aides to supervise.

Graduates attend a variety of high schools, mainly in Brooklyn, including Midwood, Murrow, Brooklyn Tech and Brooklyn Latin. A few have gone to Bard, Murry Bergtraum, Talent Unlimited or Fashion Industries, in Manhattan.

After school: Mondays and Wednesdays are dedicated to academics; Tuesday and Thursday, there are arts activities such as a dance company, and Friday is for sports such as basketball or track and field.

Special education: Students with special needs must meet the academic criteria of the school. There are co-teaching classes as well as SETSS.

Admissions: Selective. Priority to District 19. Students and parents are interviewed. Students are given an assessment, and may present a portfolio for arts programs. There are about 575 applicants for 95 6th-grade seats. The school looks for supportive parents and students who will adhere to rules and uphold the uniform policy. Some students are admitted even though they may have scored below grade average on state tests, if it is "a passionate kid who really wants to be here," the principal said. "Our goal is to make them smarter by the time they leave. Can we help them along the way?" (Pamela Wheaton, October 2013)

InsideStats

Click tabs above to see school stats

At a glance

Shared campus? Yes

This school shares a building with PS 346

Number of Students 294

Average Daily Attendance 94%

Uniforms? Yes

Students at this school

Asian

  
8%

Black

  
68%

Hispanic

  
23%

White

  
0%

Free Lunch

  
86%

Special ed

  
14%

English Language Learners

  
3%

INCOMING STUDENTS' PROFICIENCY: 3.01 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?

72% 64% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

87% 78% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

ARE KIDS NICE?

How many students complain about bullying?

56% 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?

100% 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?

100% 79% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

ARE CLASSES BIG?

Number of students in an average english class

25 26 CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many students are chronically absent?

15% 24% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Academics

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

34% 25% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

36% 22% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

68% 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:

56% 21% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

48% 14% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How do graduates do in 9th grade?

Percent who pass all their classes freshman year:

97% 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 state math exam:

0% 2% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

0% 1% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

6% 5% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

0% 4% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

14% 7% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

0% 6% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How well does this school serve English language learners?

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

0% 2% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

NA 13% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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