Tompkins Square Middle School

Grades 6-8
Staff Pick
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What’s Special

Rigorous academics in a nurturing and diverse learning environment

The Downside

Narrow, cramped hallways

Our Review

Tompkins Square Middle School is a nurturing place with a deep commitment to collaborative work and diversity. A popular choice for District 1 families, the school could easily screen for high achievers only, but instead strives for a culturally and academically diverse student population. The school does a good job of serving students with a wide range of skills, and teachers and staff pride themselves on providing a stimulating and welcoming environment where all students can thrive.

Named for nearby Tompkins Square Park, the school is housed in a red brick building that it shares with two elementary schools, PS 64 and the Earth School. Inside, the narrow hallways are cheerfully decorated with student work, but can get a bit cramped when filled with students changing classes. Many classrooms, however, are spacious and brimming with books that teachers thoughtfully arrange on shelves and in bins for students to access with ease.

The vibe throughout the school is calm and laid-back, and the staff has a good rapport with students. In classes, teachers incorporate a range of problems and tasks into lessons to ensure that all their students are challenged. Because we have invested so much into our inclusion model, we have kids in ICT [integrated co-teaching] getting into Stuyvesant, said Principal Sonhando Estwick. There are no honors classes or tracking in subjects. The one exception is algebra, which select 8th-graders take a few days each week on top of their regular required math course.

To ease their transition to middle school, 6th-grade students have two anchor teachers: one for math and science classes and the other for humanities, which is a double period covering both English and social studies. In the upper grades, students continue to have one teacher for humanities, but have separate teachers for math and science.

Teachers put a lot of effort into creating interesting and rigorous lessons. Students work mainly in groups, often on assignments that stretch over several days. In math, students in all grades spend a few days tackling a complex, schoolwide math problem, one of several assigned throughout the year. Sixth-graders feel great working on the same problem as 8th-graders, said Devan Aptekar, a school dean and member of the founding faculty. To shore up their math skills to meet new Common Core Standards, 8th-graders spend a month learning multiple ways to solve quadratic equations.

In a 7th-grade humanities class we visited, students were sharing their own, and critiquing their fellow classmates realistic fiction stories. A countertop along the side of that room was covered in bundles of challenging novels that students were currently reading in their book groups. Earlier in the year they studied the Constitution and participated in a mock trial held at a downtown courthouse as part of The Constitution Works program.

In science, students do a lot of research and writing, and often keep laptops handy to record their research. A few years ago one of our ELA teachers spent a year co-teaching a science class to help us develop the literacy component in science, said Estwick. Science teachers also set aside class time for students to work on their projects for the schoolwide science fair.

A flex period is built into the middle of each day, allowingstudents to take enrichment classes, participate in advisory groups and, when needed, get extra help in academics. Enrichment options may serve a practical purpose such as helping 8th-graders prepare art portfolios for high school interviews. Other courses may tap into students interests, such as book clubs or quirky-themed options like gross anatomy (dissections) or physics of superheroes (examines the physics behind comic book story lines). Teacher-led advisory groups give students a forum to tackle issues such as family, sexual identity, bullying, Internet safety and how to be organized. At the beginning of 8th grade, they focus on high school admissions. Sometimes teachers schedule single-sex advisory meetings to allow for frank discussions on topics not easily addressed in a coed group.

In addition to enrichment classes and advisories, students have art, gym, technology and Spanish.

The school offers a range of free sports, arts and academic enrichment activities after school.

Special education: Roughly half the classes follow the integrated co-teaching (ICT) model.

Admissions: The school is open to District 1 students. Applicants must participate in an interview where they are asked to work together in groups on a task such as solving a math problem. (Laura Zingmond, May 2014).

About the students

Enrollment
374
Asian
26.5%
Black
16.0%
Hispanic
35.3%
White
19.3%
Other
2.9%
Free or reduced priced lunch
66%
Students with disabilities
27%
English language learners
4%

About the school

Shared campus?
Yes
This school shares the building with the Earth School and PS 64
Uniforms required?
No
Metal detectors?
No
How crowded? (Full is 100%)
93%
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

Attendance

Average daily attendance
96%
93% Citywide Average
How many students are chronically absent?
10%
20% Citywide Average

Is this school safe?

How many teachers say order and discipline are maintained at this school?
62%
77% Citywide Average
How many students think bullying happens most or all of the time at this school?
14%
28% Citywide Average
How many students say they feel safe in the hallways, bathrooms and locker rooms?
84%
82% Citywide Average
How many students say most students treat each other with respect?
60%
43% Citywide Average

About the leadership

Years of principal experience at this school
7.9
6.0 Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?
82%
82% Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal has a clear vision for this school?
77%
88% Citywide Average
How many teachers trust the principal?
82%
82% Citywide Average

About the teachers

How many teachers have 3 or more years of experience teaching?
66%
72% Citywide Average
Teacher attendance
96%
96% Citywide Average
How many teachers say they would recommend this school to other families?
95%
81% Citywide Average
How many teachers think the staff collaborate to make this school run effectively?
81%
86% Citywide Average
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

Test scores

How many students scored 3-4 on the state math exam?
47%
27% Citywide Average
How many students scored 3-4 on the state ELA exam?
48%
30% Citywide Average

Arts offerings

This school has 3 dedicated spaces for Visual arts and an Auditorium
This school has 2 licensed arts teachers in Dance and Music

Engaging curriculum?

How many students say this school offers enough programs, classes and activities to keep them interested?
75%
75% Citywide Average
How many students say they are challenged in most or all of their classes?
53%
56% Citywide Average
How many students say the programs, classes and activities here encourage them to develop talent outside academics?
77%
72% Citywide Average

Are students prepared for high school?

Accelerated courses offered for high school credit
Algebra I
How many 8th graders earn high school credit?
12%
26% Citywide Average
How many graduates of this school pass all their classes in 9th grade?
95%
84% Citywide Average
What high schools do most graduates attend?
Lower Manhattan Arts Academy, HS for Health Professions and Human Services, and NYC iSchool
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

How does this school serve English Language Learners?

How many English language learners score 3-4 on the State ELA exam?
13%
5% Citywide Average
How many former English language learners score 3-4 on the State ELA exam?
50%
14% Citywide Average

How does this school serve students with disabilities?

This school offers self-contained classes
This school offers team teaching (ICT)
Average math score for ICT students
1.66
1.9 Citywide Average
Average math score for self-contained students
2.29
2.1 Citywide Average
Average ELA score for ICT students
1.87
1.9 Citywide Average
Average ELA score for self-contained students
2.35
2.2 Citywide Average
Average math score for SETSS students
2.44
2.3 Citywide Average
Average ELA score for SETSS students
2.95
2.3 Citywide Average
How many students say that students with disabilities are included in all activities?
75%
67% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say this school offers enough activities and services for their children's needs?
85%
88% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say this school works to achive the goals of their students' IEPs?
92%
91% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say they are satisfied with the IEP development process at this school?
89%
90% Citywide Average
For more information about our data sources, see About Our Data
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