Frederick Douglass Academy VIII Middle School

Grades 6-8
Staff Pick
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What’s Special

Orderly, high-performing school, with strong arts and academics

The Downside

Far from the subway; early lunch and infrequent access to school yard

Our Review

Located in the shadow of the huge Spring Creek housing development, Frederick Douglass Academy VIII offers a safe, stimulating environment for children who travel from throughout District 19 for an education that allows them to explore the arts as well as academics.

At FDA VIII, like others in the loose network of Frederick Douglass Academy Schools, students are known as scholars and classes are named after famous colleges. Teachers and administrators know each student and parent well - and scholars know they must follow the rules or risk being called out for demerits or detention. "We're very discipline-oriented," said Principal Yolanda Martin. "Kids can't learn in chaos; they can't feel safe in chaos."

Each morning begins with students reciting the FDA creed. In a 6th grade classes, we saw a writing lesson in which students described how they were incorporating the creed's tenets in their everyday life. Whether wearing maroon sweaters and polo shirts, or sweat pants and a tee shirt for gym class, students are well-turned out and polite, actively engaged in the lessons.

Good behavior is expected but that doesn't mean that the middle-schoolers are expected to be silent. There was loud and lively discussion in many classes, with students working together on experiments , sharing their solutions for math problems, or critiquing ne another's presentations in French class.

Two out of the four 8th grade classes take math and science Regents exams for high school credit, as well as the French proficiency exam. Test prep begins early in the year -- in October -- with Monday and Wednesday afternoons dedicated to building skills after school.

It's not all academics, however. FDA VIII got a grant from the Matisse Foundation to expand the arts. It offers electives in visual arts, drama, dance, string instruments, drumming and debate club. Students are introduced to different arts forms in 6th grade and then choose to specialized in 7th grade. Average class size for academics is 25-28 in FDA VIII but the arts classes are much smaller.

To expand student horizons beyond East New York, in 2012 30 students went on a 10 day trip to Europe, touring London, Spain and France; in 2010 a group of 50 students and parents went to Ghana.

FDA VIII occupies the 4th floor and one wing of the 3rd floor in PS 346. The shared gym is on the small side but students also use the sports center at the Spring Creek housing complex. There is a new dance studio, a visual arts studio, and a music room, but no library. A downside of the shared space is that kids eat lunch very early at FDA VIII - at 10:18. The cafeteria is too small for everyone to eat together so 8th graders eat in a room across the hall. There is a large school yard but students rarely go out at lunch time, they said. The principal attributed that to a lack for school aides to supervise.

Graduates attend a variety of high schools, mainly in Brooklyn, including Midwood, Murrow, Brooklyn Tech and Brooklyn Latin. A few have gone to Bard or Murry Bergtraum.

After school: Mondays and Wednesdays are dedicated to academics; Tuesday and Thursday, there are arts activities such as a dance company, and Friday is for sports such as basketball or track and field.

Special education: Students with special needs must meet the academic criteria of the school. There are co-teaching classes as well as SETTS.

Admissions: Selective. Priority to District 19.Students and parents are interviewed. Students are given an assessment, and may present a portfolio for arts programs. There are about 575 applicants for 95 sixth grade seats. The school looks for supportive parents and students who will adhere to rules and uphold the uniform policy. Some students are admitted even though they may have scored below grade average on state tests, if they show promise and are a good fit for FDA VIII, the principal said. "Our goal is to make them smarter by the time they leave. Can we help them along the way?" (Pamela Wheaton, October 2013)

About the students

Enrollment
324
Asian
4.0%
Black
75.3%
Hispanic
19.1%
White
0.9%
Other
0.6%
Free or reduced priced lunch
92%
Students with disabilities
16%
English language learners
3%

About the school

Shared campus?
Yes
This school shares a building with PS 346
Uniforms required?
Yes
Metal detectors?
No
How crowded? (Full is 100%)
72%
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

Attendance

Average daily attendance
95%
93% Citywide Average
How many students are chronically absent?
12%
20% Citywide Average

Is this school safe?

How many teachers say order and discipline are maintained at this school?
100%
77% Citywide Average
How many students think bullying happens most or all of the time at this school?
18%
28% Citywide Average
How many students say they feel safe in the hallways, bathrooms and locker rooms?
90%
82% Citywide Average
How many students say most students treat each other with respect?
55%
43% Citywide Average

About the leadership

Years of principal experience at this school
1.2
6.0 Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?
95%
82% Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal has a clear vision for this school?
95%
88% Citywide Average
How many teachers trust the principal?
95%
82% Citywide Average

About the teachers

How many teachers have 3 or more years of experience teaching?
79%
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?
90%
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?
29%
27% Citywide Average
How many students scored 3-4 on the state ELA exam?
39%
30% Citywide Average

Arts offerings

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

Engaging curriculum?

How many students say this school offers enough programs, classes and activities to keep them interested?
88%
75% Citywide Average
How many students say they are challenged in most or all of their classes?
70%
56% Citywide Average
How many students say the programs, classes and activities here encourage them to develop talent outside academics?
89%
72% Citywide Average

Are students prepared for high school?

Accelerated courses offered for high school credit
French, Algebra I, Living Environment
How many 8th graders earn high school credit?
58%
26% Citywide Average
How many graduates of this school pass all their classes in 9th grade?
94%
84% Citywide Average
What high schools do most graduates attend?
Brooklyn HS of the Arts and Academy for Young Writers
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

How does this school serve English Language Learners?

How many former English language learners score 3-4 on the State ELA exam?
0%
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
1.87
1.9 Citywide Average
Average math score for self-contained students
1.87
2.1 Citywide Average
Average ELA score for ICT students
1.94
1.9 Citywide Average
Average ELA score for self-contained students
2.05
2.2 Citywide Average
Average math score for SETSS students
2.41
2.3 Citywide Average
Average ELA score for SETSS students
2.06
2.3 Citywide Average
How many students say that students with disabilities are included in all activities?
78%
67% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say this school offers enough activities and services for their children's needs?
100%
88% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say this school works to achive the goals of their students' IEPs?
89%
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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