Marsh Avenue School for Expeditionary Learning

An Insideschools pick
100 ESSEX DRIVE
STATEN ISLAND NY 10314 Map
Phone: (718) 370-6850
Website: Click here
Admissions: Lottery. Preference to District 31.
Principal: Cara De Angelo
Neighborhood: Central Staten Island
District: 31
Grade range: 6-8
Parent Coordinator: Cara De Angelo
Unzoned

What's special:

Hands-on and creative projects, modern and spacious facilities

The downside:

School starts very early

InsideSchools Review

Our review:

Marsh Avenue School for Expeditionary Learning is a small, vibrant middle school with a creative curriculum, cheery environment and spacious, modern facilities. It has become a top choice for Staten Islanders and attracts students from all over the borough.

The idea behind Expeditionary Learning is that children develop critical thinking skills and important traits such as perseverance when they study topics deeply and across multiple academic subjects. At Marsh Avenue, students in all grades participate in several 12-week-long projects or “expeditions” each year that may start in one subject, such as science or social studies, and then carry over into other classes.  

Some expeditions focus on topics traditionally taught in middle school, such as ancient civilizations and early-20th-century immigration to the United States. For instance, an 8th-grade expedition called “The Price of Progress” starts in social studies, where students research immigrant life and visit the Tenement Museum. In science, 8th-graders then study diseases prevalent in tenement life; in math, they evaluate and present health statistics from that period; in English, they prepare oral and written presentations responding to the overarching question: Is the price of progress worth it? 

Other expeditions tap into more homegrown interests. Sixth-graders learn about the nearby Fresh Kills Landfill, once the largest landfill in the world that has since been converted to a public park. In a math class we observed, students were working in groups on surveys they developed based on their science class’s study of Fresh Kills' air quality and environmental pollutants. One student hypothesized that the survey data will show that older Staten Islanders will be more likely than younger residents to oppose the Fresh Kills park out of concern for health hazards.

Group work is a staple of instruction throughout the school and it’s common to hear the chatter of students working together when walking into a classroom. Research and writing are emphasized in all subjects and students are taught to organize their thoughts and write multiple drafts to achieve a polished final piece.

“Students have true ownership of the experience and get excited about what they’re learning,” said Cara De Angelo the school’s principal since September 2013. De Angelo, a former elementary school teacher, assistant principal and schools network support leader, replaced Marsh Avenue’s founding principal, Jessica Jenkins.

Each teacher serves as an advisor to a small group of students called a “crew” and stays with the same crew for their three years at that school. “Students have a safe place in their crew and know they go to their crew teacher or their crew members if they need help,” said De Angelo. Each crew meets several times each week and performs community service projects.

Each 8th-grader participates in a pre-graduation tradition called “passages,” a touching, private event where the student reflects on work from all three years before an audience of his family and a few staff members and students. Students also take the lead at parent-teacher conferences, presenting their achievements and goals and answering questions from parents and teachers.

All students study Spanish, have gym class three times each week and take elective courses that can vary by semester but include options such as chorus, band, visual arts, broadcast journalism and technology.

The school day starts very early at 7:35 am and ends at 1:55 pm, though most students stay for after school activities that include tutoring, sports, student council, computer programming, rock band, cheerleading, dance, chess and science clubs.

Marsh Avenue shares the facilities with CSI International High School and the Gaynor McCown Expeditionary Learning School. The spacious and airy structure is thoughtfully configured: Each school is housed in its own, dedicated wing of the building designed with its own main entrance and main office space. All schools share use of the centrally located gym, cafeteria, library and elevator bank.

Most students stay on the island for high school. Popular choices include CSI International, Gaynor McCown and Staten Island Tech. Some graduates attend small Manhattan high schools as well as Stuyvesant and La Guardia.

Special education: Integrated co-teaching classes, SETSS classes and a self-contained 12:1 class on every grade. School leaders say they are very committed to including students with special needs in all aspects of the school and adjusting teaching methods to fit students' different learning styles.

Admission: District 31 lottery. Parents must attend an open house and sign in. The school receives roughly 1800 applications for 150 seats. Busing is provided for students. (Laura Zingmond, May, 2014)

InsideStats

Click tabs above to see school stats

At a glance

Shared campus? Yes

Jerome Parker Educational Campus

Number of Students 444

Average Daily Attendance 96%

Uniforms? Yes

Students at this school

Asian

  
11%

Black

  
7%

Hispanic

  
19%

White

  
63%

Free Lunch

  
50%

Special ed

  
21%

English Language Learners

  
1%

INCOMING STUDENTS' PROFICIENCY: 2.98 2.60 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?

56% 64% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

84% 78% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

ARE KIDS NICE?

How many students complain about bullying?

52% 71% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

78% 57% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

89% 77% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

DO TEACHERS LIKE THE SCHOOL?

How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?

72% 80% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many teachers would recommend this school to other parents?

83% 79% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

ARE CLASSES BIG?

Number of students in an average english class

28 26 CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many students are chronically absent?

11% 24% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Academics

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

45% 26% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

44% 22% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

83% 45% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

HS Prep

How many 8th graders pass high school regents exams?

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

22% 18% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

0% 14% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How do graduates do in 9th grade?

Percent who pass all their classes freshman year:

98% 87% 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:

NA 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:

19% 7% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

16% 5% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

10% 9% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

10% 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:

NA 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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