Thurgood Marshall Academy Lower School

An Insideschools pick
276 WEST 151ST STREET
MANHATTAN NY 10039 Map
Phone: (212) 368-8731
Website: Click here
Admissions: By application, District 5 priority
Principal: Dawn Brooks Decosta
Neighborhood: Harlem
District: 5
Grade range: K-5
Parent Coordinator: CRAIG FRIERSON
Unzoned

What's special:

A good balance of art and academics in a long day, small classes, morning meditation

The downside:

Few bathrooms, no gymnasium

InsideSchools Review

Our review:

At Thurgood Marshall Academy, students wear crisp white shirts and red ties and raise their hands respectfully to speak in class. Kids visit museums and study dance, violin and jazz. They start each day with a few minutes of silent, calming mindfulness.

A grandmother of two chose it over TAG (Talented and Gifted) Young Scholars because she told us it was exceptionally nurturing of the "whole child," particularly "black and Latino kids." 

The 15 or so staff members wear several hats—the nurse sings opera to the kids, the secretary doubles as the step-team coach. Children are in school until 5:30 p.m., allowing them time for sports, drumming, dance and more, which helps balance the serious academics that start in kindergarten. Kids meditate, and track their emotions with "mood meters." Children visit lots of museums and study dance, violin, and jazz.

The school was opened in 2005 in collaboration with the Abyssinian Development Corporation, the housing and social service arm of Harlem's biggest church, Abyssinian Baptist Church.

Principal Dawn Brooks DeCosta won a Cahn Fellowship in 2015, a reflection of her strong leadership. An educator for more than 23 years, she has watched the rise of middle-class parents in Harlem, and she and her staff hope to learn from PS 125, where parents have demanded more progressive practices such as hands-on "centers" in kindergarten. She wants to ensure her teachers have the tools to reach faster learners, too: "We've had such a focus on the struggler," she said. "We also need to focus on the advanced."

A few downsides: The old building has only two bathrooms on the third floor with one stall in each. There is no gymnasium, but kids play in a small yard or in the cafeteria. Some children miss many days of school because of long commutes or for health reasons such as asthma.

SPECIAL EDUCATION: Physical therapy takes place at another location but a special education tutor and a speech therapist are available on-site. There are also mental health services.

ADMISSIONS: There are up to 20 spots for kindergarten and 1st-graders depending on how many siblings are admitted. Applications for grades 1 to 5 may be picked up at the school. There are twice as many seats in 1st grade as in kindergarten, a boon to families set adrift from area charter schools, but very few spaces open in the upper grades. The application is not an evaluation of the child, DeCosta said.  (Lydie Raschka, October 2015; updated August 2016)

InsideStats

Click tabs above to see school stats

At a glance

Shared campus? No

This school is in its own building.

Number of Students 219

Average Daily Attendance 92%

Students at this school

Asian

  
3%

Black

  
79%

Hispanic

  
14%

White

  
1%

Free Lunch

  
85%

Special ed

  
15%

English Language Learners

  
2%

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?

86% 81% 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

DO TEACHERS LIKE THE SCHOOL?

How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?

64% 80% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many teachers would recommend this school to other parents?

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Attendance

How many students are chronically absent?

30% 23% 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 3rd, 4th & 5th graders who scored 3 or 4 on the state math exam

41% 41% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Percent of 3rd, 4th & 5th graders who scored 3 or 4 on the state ela exam

37% 40% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Parents

Are parents involved?

How many parents responded to the school survey?

84% 64% 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 8% 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:

0% 19% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

0% 9% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

0% 17% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

11% 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% 93% 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?

83% 86% 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 6% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

0% 32% 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

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)