PS/MS 8 Robert Fulton

Grades K-8
Staff Pick
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Zone for the 2017-2018 school year. Call school to confirm.

What’s Special

High performing school in high-income neighborhood; innovative partnerships, projects and math program

The Downside

Overcrowding in elementary; middle school still developing in old, shared building with metal detectors

Our Review

Tucked away in a quiet corner of Brooklyn Heights, PS/IS 8 has active parents, an imaginative curriculum and a special focus on social studies. It hums along like a well-serviced vehicle. Long gone are the days when the school was under-enrolled and struggled to attract students.

Now its problem is just the opposite: how to accommodate all the students who live in the neighborhood, especially with the explosion of new high-rise buildings along the waterfront near the Brooklyn Bridge.

After several years with long waitlists for zoned kindergartners, there was a contentious rezoning battle in the 2015-2016 school year, and a chunk of the PS 8 zone in DUMBO and Vinegar Hill is now zoned for PS 307.That change meant that PS 8 might be able to take back some classroom space for music and drama rooms, although longtime principal Seth Phillips thinks the reprieve from overcrowding may be brief, with so much new construction continuing in the area. "They keep putting up big buildings," he said.

Thematic social studies units are at the heart of the curriculum. Second-graders create a "Box City" of restaurants, banks, a hotel and even an Irish pub from cardboard boxesandlearn about community, business and architecture in the process. Each "citizen" is given $100 per day to "live" in the city and must figure out how to pay taxes.

Fifth-graders learn to argue for a cause they believe in as part of Project Citizen, a program designed to encourage participation in government. One group was avidly seeking more physical education timePS 8 students only get one gym period per weekciting research that shows too many children are obese.

Disappointed by the city math curriculum, the PTA purchased Bridges in Mathematicscurriculum, the firstand maybe the onlypublic school in the city to adopt it. Adopting it "is one of the best things we've done," the principal said."Kids can speak about math. There is a heavy emphasis on manipulatives, using tools to really understand the material," said Phillips. "Test scores are steadily increasing and [progress shows in] the way the kids talk math, the language they use. The kids are remembering what they learn from year to year."

The PTA raises close to $1 million each year. (The day we visited was the eve of a golf tournament fundraiser). In addition to the math curriculum, the money pays for teaching assistants and enrichment programs such as a long-standing collaboration with the Guggenheim Museum to bring teaching artists into the school and to take 3rd- and 4th-graders to the museum where they learn to become docents.

Classrooms are clean and clearly laid out with well-defined centers. This lends a calm atmosphere even in the art room where soft music was playing. Missing is the clutter of hanging paper chartsthe use of SMART Boards in each classroom means that teachers can display charts on them, teachers said.

Parents may bring their children right to their classrooms. There is no homework in kindergarten or 1st gradea bone of contention for some parents. "It's a no winthere are some parents who really want it and some who don't. We try to find a happy middle ground," said Phillips.

The middle school, begun in 2012, is still developing, said the principal who spends more time there after a turnover in administrators. "It's a huge learning curve. More work has to be done to find the right match of the population and the teachers."

Middle school students give high marks to the two-year Spanish immersion program. Even though this is the first time they have been exposed to the language, most of them test out of high school Spanish, Phillips said. Three times a year, students do explorations, dropping all of their other studies for two weeks, to look into questions such as "What is courage?" They invite speakers and develop projects about courageous people such as Martin Luther King, Jr.

Not all PS 8 students stay for the middle school, put off by its shared location with a high school and the fact that kids must go through a metal detector to enter the building, located a few blocks away at 105 Tech Place. (The phone number is 718-875-1021.)

MS 8 graduates get into some very competitive high schools: In 2016, two students were accepted into Stuyvesant, 10-12 into Millennium Brooklyn. Midwood and Murrow are other popular choices.

SPECIAL EDUCATION: There is at least one ICT team-teaching class on every grade. "We're still strong believers in the ICT model," Phillips said. PS 8 enrolls some severely disabled children, including some who are non-verbal and have one-on-one assistants.

ADMISSIONS: Zoned, neighborhood school. Overcrowding means there is a kindergarten waitlist some years. PS 8 students are guaranteed admission to the middle school but there is room for upwards of 15 students from outside the school. The admissions is "limited unscreened," meaning that priority is given to students who attend an open house. (Pamela Wheaton, May 2016)

About the students

Enrollment
947
Asian
6.1%
Black
13.4%
Hispanic
11.5%
White
61.6%
Other
7.4%
Free or reduced priced lunch
15%
Students with disabilities
15%
English language learners
3%

About the school

Shared campus?
No
This school is in its own building.
Uniforms required?
No
How crowded? (Full is 100%)
105%
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

Attendance

Average daily attendance
95%
94% Citywide Average
How many students are chronically absent?
10%
19% Citywide Average

Is this school safe?

How many teachers say order and discipline are maintained at this school?
97%
75% Citywide Average
How many students think bullying happens most or all of the time at this school?
20%
25% Citywide Average
How many students say they feel safe in the hallways, bathrooms and locker rooms?
82%
85% Citywide Average
How many teachers say their students are safe outside around this school?
100%
84% Citywide Average
How many students say most students treat each other with respect?
44%
46% Citywide Average

About the leadership

Years of principal experience at this school
13.2
6.4 Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?
97%
79% Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal has a clear vision for this school?
93%
86% Citywide Average
How many teachers trust the principal?
100%
79% Citywide Average

About the teachers

How many teachers have 3 or more years of experience teaching?
77%
78% Citywide Average
Teacher attendance
97%
96% Citywide Average
How many teachers say they would recommend this school to other families?
100%
79% Citywide Average
How many teachers think the staff collaborate to make this school run effectively?
100%
85% Citywide Average

Do parents like the school?

How many parents responded to the school survey?
44%
59% Citywide Average
How many parents say they are invited to visit classrooms?
66%
79% Citywide Average
How many parents say this school offers enough courses, activities and services to keep their children interested in school?
88%
84% 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?
64%
39% Citywide Average
How many students scored 3-4 on the state ELA exam?
70%
40% Citywide Average

Engaging curriculum?

How many students say this school offers enough programs, classes and activities to keep them interested?
65%
72% Citywide Average
How many students say they are challenged in most or all of their classes?
37%
55% Citywide Average
How many students say the programs, classes and activities here encourage them to develop talent outside academics?
54%
70% 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?
77%
28% Citywide Average
How many graduates of this school pass all their classes in 9th grade?
87%
87% Citywide Average
What high schools do most graduates attend?
Midwood HS
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?
14%
7% Citywide Average
How many former English language learners score 3-4 on the State ELA exam?
0%
18% 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
1.63
1.9 Citywide Average
Average math score for self-contained students
2.53
2.2 Citywide Average
Average ELA score for ICT students
1.81
1.9 Citywide Average
Average ELA score for self-contained students
2.64
2.2 Citywide Average
Average math score for SETSS students
2.61
2.3 Citywide Average
Average ELA score for SETSS students
2.48
2.3 Citywide Average
How many students say that students with disabilities are included in all activities?
84%
69% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say this school offers enough activities and services for their children's needs?
74%
84% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say this school works to achive the goals of their students' IEPs?
90%
89% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say they are satisfied with the IEP development process at this school?
79%
87% Citywide Average
For more information about our data sources, see About Our Data
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