I.S. 340 North Star Academy

An Insideschools pick
227 STERLING PLACE
BROOKLYN NY 11238 Map
Phone: (718) 857-5516
Website: Click here
Admissions: selective
Principal: JEAN WILLIAMS
Neighborhood: Prospect Heights
District: 17
Grade range: 6-8
Parent Coordinator: MARVIN THOMAS
Unzoned
Screened

What's special:

Accelerated science instruction a small, close-knit community.

The downside:

Extremely cramped quarters with no gym;classroom management needs work

InsideSchools Review

Our review:

North Star Academy is a grand name for the small community of bright learners located in a snug red brick building in Prospect Heights. The school, which has an accelerated science curriculum, draws most of its students from Caribbean-American families living in Crown Heights and East Flatbush.

Principal Jean Williams looks for flexible and versatile staff members: the Spanish teacher is also a painter; the art teacher covers two periods of 6th grade math; and the dean coaches the Double Dutch team.

Each class is assigned to a homeroom to start the day and that teacher also serves as an advisor to help out with everything from student elections to social concerns.

Williams has a hands-on approach to leadership. When we arrived she was covering a math class because a teacher was absent. She seems accepting of varying teacher styles and encourages teachers to strengthen their practice. Two English Language Arts teachers plan lessons together because one is strong in content while the other has better organizational skills. Four teachers were absent the day of our visit and this contributed to some rocky classroom changes. A teacher stopped to lecture kids in the hallway, then scolded them again in the classroom. "Excuse me!" Williams said, stepping in to calm a class of boys upset at missing gym class because the substitute teacher did not have the qualifications to teach it. A downside of the small building is that there is no real gym. Physical education takes place in the low-ceilinged basement.

The PTA has been active in a media center renovation and parents come out for award ceremonies, holiday events or performances celebrating black history. Still, in recent years, the school has seen a decline in test scores and teacher and parent satisfaction (as measured by the 2010-2011 Learning Environment Survey). Hit by budget cuts, the school lost popular step and cheerleading teams as well as a violin program. The math coach is teaching two classes leaving her less time to support teachers and a full-time dean is now part-time. To save money, Williams will absorb one 6th grade class into the others, raising class size in that grade to 27 per room. Recognizing a need to support teachers in the area of classroom management, Williams hired a group called "Ramapo for Children" to work with teachers on prevention and consistency.

"We try to do a lot of enrichment work," Williams said. An instructor from the PENCIL program, which links schools and businesses, was teaching 6th graders about financial literacy the day of our visit. Over spring break kids devote four days to a Math Marathon. Eighth graders take Regents exams in Living Environment and Integrated Algebra. The school offers Spanish and chorus. All kids get a weekly double period in the science lab. "We're struggling to get a debate team," said Williams.

Every child has a double period of art once a week and the school is equipped with laptops and Smart Boards. The computer lab is used for additional writing practice. Some of the displayed writing was of good quality, each piece with a distinctive point of view. Strong singers and several high achievers aim for specialized high schools in Manhattan but most opt for quality schools closer to home like Brooklyn College Academy, Medgar Evers Prep and Benjamin Banneker Academy.

Special education: There are two multi-grade special education classes for children with special needs only. On our visit seven students set up an experiment in the science lab in which they exposed potato slices to a variety of surfaces. "I have a strong feeling that fungus is going to grow on it," predicted a boy.

After school: Students participate in Double Dutch and flag football.

Admissions: Open to students who score 3 or 4 on the state's 4th grade English language arts and math tests. Applicants must also take the Otis-Lennon School Ability Test (OLSAT). (Lydie Raschka, October 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 208

Average Daily Attendance 95%

Uniforms? Yes

Students at this school

Asian

  
1%

Black

  
88%

Hispanic

  
10%

White

  
1%

Free Lunch

  
88%

Special ed

  
6%

English Language Learners

  
1%

INCOMING STUDENTS' PROFICIENCY: 3.30 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?

38% 64% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

53% 78% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

ARE KIDS NICE?

How many students complain about bullying?

72% 71% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

42% 57% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

82% 77% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

DO TEACHERS LIKE THE SCHOOL?

How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?

100% 80% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many teachers would recommend this school to other parents?

82% 79% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

ARE CLASSES BIG?

Number of students in an average english class

29 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

18% 25% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

41% 22% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

73% 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:

37% 21% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

40% 14% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How do graduates do in 9th grade?

Percent who pass all their classes freshman year:

93% 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:

NA 5% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

NA 4% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

0% 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:

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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