TAG Young Scholars

An Insideschools pick
240 EAST 109 STREET
MANHATTAN NY 10029 Map
Phone: (212) 860-6003
Website: Click here
Admissions: Citywide
Principal: Janette Cesar
Neighborhood: East Harlem
District: 4
Grade range: K-8
Parent Coordinator: MIRIAN BRUNO
Unzoned
Gifted and Talented
Screened
Citywide

What's special:

Engaging classes in citywide program for gifted children

The downside:

Very limited sports

InsideSchools Review

Our review:

The most diverse of the citywide gifted programs, Talented and Gifted Young Scholars (TAG) has a mix of black, Latino, Asian, and white pupils. The school also has a diverse teaching staff, so children have role models of different races. Neat red-plaid uniforms, cheery classrooms and engaging lessons are hallmarks of this warm and orderly school. Principal Janette Cesar knows every child by name, even down to who has which allergies. Children come from as far away as the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island.

Lessons are fast-paced and demanding. All children are expected to read at home for at least 45 minutes a night. In addition, kindergartners typically have a half hour of homework, 5th-graders have one-and-a-half hours, and middle schoolers have up to two hours each night. Homework packets are assigned on all holidays and during summer break. The quality of writing we saw was good: Children write long essays on topics ranging from Tom Sawyer to the history of the robber barons and civil disobedience.

It's long been a traditional school, with plenty of emphasis on grammar and spelling (1st-graders learn about nouns and adjectives), drills in the multiplication tables, and Latin classes (that teach children the roots of many English words).

But it's also a school where kindergartners create a restaurant in the class and learn computer coding. Everyone goes on class trips to pick apples in the countryside or to take a Circle Line Cruise around Manhattan. The school is shifting away from teacher-directed lessons and toward more class discussions.

"Whoever is doing the talking is doing the learning," Cesar told us.

Rather than relying on one math program, teachers combine the best of a number of programs including Math in Focus (the American version of Singapore math) and Go Math. One 6th-grade math teacher we saw had children make up their own word problems as an exercise to see if they understood a lesson on multiplying fractions. Strong math students may accelerate: A 1st-grader may go to the 3rd grade for math. Children in grades 4–8 may take part in the American Math Competitions club after school.

Most 8th-graders graduate with four Regents exams under their belt, including English, American History, algebra, and living environment. Children may choose electives such as Latin jazz percussion, band, or drama. First- through 4th-graders may study piano.

Children in kindergarten through 8th grade may attend an on-site Y after-school program that also offers all-day activities during the summer, school vacations, and holidays. TAG middle-school teachers trained with Kaplan do test prep for the specialized high schools starting in the 7th grade. A vibrant PTA raises funds to supplement electives for the after-school program.

With so much attention paid to academics and arts, however, some students (particularly active kids) may find there are too few physical outlets outside of gym class.

Many 8th-graders go on to specialized high schools, while others receive financial support to attend private institutions and boarding schools such as Little Red School House, Phillips Academy Andover (in Massachusetts), and the Masters School in Dobbs Ferry, NY. Other popular choices are Talent Unlimited and Manhattan Center for Science and Mathematics.

The school, which has long attracted some of the most talented black and Latino children in the city, was founded as a small alternative program in 1989 and became a full-fledged school in 2004. It had its own admissions test until 2008, when then-schools chancellor Joel Klein centralized admissions to citywide G&T programs. Since then, white and Asian families have enrolled their children in the school, which once served almost exclusively black and Latino children.

SPECIAL EDUCATION: Speech and occupational therapies are offered, but TAG does not have Special Education Teacher Support Services (SETSS).

ADMISSIONS: To be eligible, K-2 students must score in the 97th percentile on the city's gifted and talented exam. Parents should sign up in November for the test, given in January. Only a handful of seats are open in the upper grades. Middle school admission is based on grades, standardized test scores and a teacher recommendation. (Jacqueline Wayans and Clara Hemphill, November 2013)

InsideStats

Click tabs above to see school stats

At a glance

Shared campus? Yes

This school shares the building with Esperanza Prep

Number of Students 561

Average Daily Attendance 97%

Students at this school

Asian

  
34%

Black

  
25%

Hispanic

  
19%

White

  
15%

Free Lunch

  
47%

Special ed

  
5%

English Language Learners

  
0%

Safety & vibe

ARE KIDS
NICE?

How many teachers say bullying is a problem at school?

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

100% 75% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

ARE CLASSES BIG?

Number of students in an average kindergarten class

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Number of students in an average fifth grade class

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Number of students in an average middle school english class

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

DO TEACHERS LIKE THE SCHOOL?

How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?

43% 79% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many teachers would recommend this school to other parents?

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Attendance

How many students are chronically absent?

5% 22% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Academics

How many teachers say this school offers enough programs, classes and activities to keep students engaged?

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many teachers say this school does a good job teaching social-emotional skills?

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many teachers say this school does a good job teaching organizational and study skills?

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Percent of students in grades 3-8 who scored 3 or 4 on the state math exam

92% 40% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Percent of students in grades 3-8 who scored 3 or 4 on the state ela exam

94% 41% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Percent of 8th graders who scored 3 or 4 on the state science exam

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many 8th grades pass high school regents exams?

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

60% 14% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

91% 17% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Parents

Are parents involved?

How many parents responded to the school survey?

64% 59% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many parents say they attended at least one pta meeting in the last school year?

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Does the school encourage family involvement?

How many parents say they were invited to an event at the school at least 3 times in the last school year?

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Do parents like the school?

How many parents would recommend this school to other parents?

NA NA 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 6% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

NA 2% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

NA 14% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

NA 8% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

43% 15% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

57% 9% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many parents say students with disabilities are included in all activities?

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many teachers say students with special needs are educated in the least restrictive environment appropriate?

100% 91% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many parents of students with ieps say this school offers a wide enough variety of services and activities for their children’s needs?

69% 84% 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 3% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

NA 19% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many teachers say this school ensures that ells receive the same curriculum as non-ells with appropriate suppports?

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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