J.H.S. 50 John D. Wells

Grades 6-8
Staff Pick
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What’s Special

Strong leadership; top-notch debate program; longer school day

The Downside

School is moving in right direction, but still has a ways to go

Our Review

MS 50 is a calm, friendly school thats gaining momentum thanks to an impressive debate program, strong leadership, and support from community organizations like El Puente, which offers after school activities and family support services.

On our visit, children seemed relaxed and engaged; teachers were enthusiastic and spoke to students in a conversational voice. Students wear uniforms of a blue top and either black or khaki pants and every child is given a free sweatshirt and a few tops with the school logo.

Kids learn how to debate not only in English class, but in other classes as well. In English, they research a weekly debate topicsuch as single sexeducationdevelop and present their arguments and offer feedback to their peers. In math, kids solve problems involving relevant statistics; in science, they read about and discuss gender differences and similarities; in social studies, they discuss the ethics of single sex education, including the issue of transgender students. Students who participate on the debate team, which has won city-wide tournaments, tackle topics on a more sophisticated level, but everyone in the school learns the basics.

In 2014 MS 50 became part of the citys Renewal and Community Schools programs, which provides extra funding, support and oversight to low performing schools. While the school suffered from poor academic performance and declining enrollment in recent years, it seems to be on the upswing.

It is hard to overstate the positive impact that Principal Ben Honoroff, a former teacher, assistant principal and debate coach at ACORN Community High School, has had since his arrival in June 2015. Sixth grade enrollment has doubled, attendance is up and chronic absenteeism (students absent more than 10 percent of the school year) is down. Honoroff and staff overhauled the curriculum and he gets high marks from parents, teachers and students based on their responses to the NYC School Survey. Honoroff was also a coach for the Middle School Quality Initiative (MSQI), assisting participating schools, including MS 50, with the implementation of the MSQI programs aimed at boosting literacy skills in middle school students.

Even with its progress, MS 50 continues to face the challenge of serving some very needy children, including some who arrive mid-year with limited English or with interrupted education. But in the classes we saw, teachers were adept at helping those struggling to read while challenging students who were high performing.

To bolster math achievement, Honoroff and teachers adopted the Big Ideas program, which encourages children to understand concepts while gaining computational accuracy.

MS 50 students have an extended school day until 4pm. During the extra periods students engage in activities such as debate class, drama, video game design, mural painting, robotics, crocheting (popular and very therapeutic, said Honoroff) salsa dancing, academic prep gardening and chess. El Puente oversees free after-school activities that run until 6 pm.

The school occupies three floors of an early, 20th century red brick building that is shares with Success Academy Williamsburg.

Students in all grades have a weekly, small group advisory with a teacher where they discuss a range of school and age-related issues. Staff members visit each incoming 6th-grader at home before the start of school. In the fall, Honoroff meets with each 8th-grader individually to discuss high school options.

In addition to a full-time guidance counselor and social worker, the Puerto Rican Family Institute provides counseling to families in need.

SPECIAL EDUCATION: In addition to SETTS there are ICT and self-contained classes for special needs students only. The school has a transitional bilingual program for native Spanish speakers.

ADMISSIONS: Priority to District 14 students and residents. The school has room for students from other parts of Brooklyn. (Laura Zingmond, January 2017)

About the students

Enrollment
268
Asian
0.4%
Black
25.8%
Hispanic
71.6%
White
1.9%
Other
0.4%
Free or reduced priced lunch
85%
Students with disabilities
37%
English language learners
20%

About the school

Shared campus?
Yes
This school shares a building with Success Academy Williamsburg Charter School
Uniforms required?
Yes
Metal detectors?
No
How crowded? (Full is 100%)
44%
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

Attendance

Average daily attendance
92%
93% Citywide Average
How many students are chronically absent?
30%
20% Citywide Average

Is this school safe?

How many teachers say order and discipline are maintained at this school?
90%
77% Citywide Average
How many students think bullying happens most or all of the time at this school?
21%
28% Citywide Average
How many students say they feel safe in the hallways, bathrooms and locker rooms?
86%
82% Citywide Average
How many students say most students treat each other with respect?
40%
43% Citywide Average

About the leadership

Years of principal experience at this school
1.0
6.0 Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?
90%
82% Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal has a clear vision for this school?
94%
88% Citywide Average
How many teachers trust the principal?
90%
82% Citywide Average

About the teachers

How many teachers have 3 or more years of experience teaching?
95%
72% Citywide Average
Teacher attendance
98%
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?
95%
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?
7%
27% Citywide Average
How many students scored 3-4 on the state ELA exam?
21%
30% Citywide Average

Arts offerings

This school has 4 dedicated spaces for Dance, Music, Theater, and an Auditorium
This school has 2 licensed arts teachers in Theater (part-time) and Visual arts

Engaging curriculum?

How many students say this school offers enough programs, classes and activities to keep them interested?
90%
75% Citywide Average
How many students say they are challenged in most or all of their classes?
63%
56% Citywide Average
How many students say the programs, classes and activities here encourage them to develop talent outside academics?
82%
72% Citywide Average

Are students prepared for high school?

How many 8th graders earn high school credit?
0%
26% Citywide Average
How many graduates of this school pass all their classes in 9th grade?
88%
84% Citywide Average
What high schools do most graduates attend?
The HS for Enterprise, Business and Technology, Williamsburg Preparatory School, and Williamsburg HS for Architecture and Design
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

How does this school serve English Language Learners?

This school offers Transitional Bilingual Education in Spanish.
How many English language learners score 3-4 on the State ELA exam?
2%
5% Citywide Average
How many former English language learners score 3-4 on the State ELA exam?
13%
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
1.67
1.9 Citywide Average
Average math score for self-contained students
1.88
2.1 Citywide Average
Average ELA score for ICT students
1.89
1.9 Citywide Average
Average ELA score for self-contained students
2.06
2.2 Citywide Average
Average math score for SETSS students
2.15
2.3 Citywide Average
Average ELA score for SETSS students
2.47
2.3 Citywide Average
How many students say that students with disabilities are included in all activities?
77%
67% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say this school offers enough activities and services for their children's needs?
98%
88% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say this school works to achive the goals of their students' IEPs?
95%
91% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say they are satisfied with the IEP development process at this school?
100%
90% Citywide Average
For more information about our data sources, see About Our Data
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