Robert F. Wagner, Jr. Secondary School for Arts and Technology

Grades 6-12
Staff Pick
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What’s Special

Friendly place with lots of spirit and a sought-after middle school

The Downside

Many windowless classrooms; technology needs to be upgraded

Our Review

UPDATE FEBRUARY 2014:Stephania Vu became principal after Annie Seifullah was removed pending an investigation into inappropriate behavior. Vu, a graduate of Columbia University's Teachers College, was previously an assistant principal at Community Health Academy of the Heights.

DECEMBER 2011 REVIEW: Housed in a former Macys warehouse in the heart of Long Island Citys industrial and commercial center, Wagner Secondary School for Arts & Technology attracts students looking for a small, welcoming alternative to large, traditional schools. Students generally work together in groups or in pairs at small tables, generating lots of class discussions and collaborations. Classes last 51 minutes and meet four times a week. Every Friday there is an all-school Town Hall meeting.

Principal Annie Seifullah arrived in May 2011 and staff says she has energized the school, making it a place where both students and staff want to be. She tightened up the discipline and academic standards and brought in a college counselor two days a week - something the school never had before. The teaching staff is stable, a few have been there since the schools founding in 1973. Teachers plan together on Wednesday afternoons when students are dismissed early.

Some interior classrooms lack windows and the low-ceilinged gymnasium is inadequate but there is a friendly feel to the brightly painted building, from the round tables in the cafeteria to the Chill-out Area where kids relax after school. Students are on a first-name basis with most teachers and administrators, but that doesnt mean there arent rules and consequences for breaking them. Students who are late three times or more a month get a weeks lunch detention-not a happy prospect for high school students who prize being able to go out for lunch. Students may grumble, especially since some travel up to two hours to get to school, but they admit the rule helps get them to school on time.

The middle school attracts stronger students than the high school, and boasts a higher attendance rate. Students representing 20 countries collaborate on projects and edit one anothers work. There is less emphasis on test prep and worksheets than many students were used to at their more traditional elementary schools. Some children even ask for more test prep, although they end up enjoying the many projects that they have a hand in creating, teachers say.

They determine a lot of how class is run, said 7th-grade English teacher Steve Lynch. They grade themselves. I expect them to have opinions and they are not used to that.

In a writing lesson, students came up with a list of eight traits that all fables should include and read one anothers rough draft to ensure that they were included. One fables message: Having your work done by yourself is better than copying others. Seventh-graders will read their fables to the elementary students at nearby PS 150.

High school students take frequent trips, to the Laugh Factory in Times Square and to Ellis Island, for example, and a day-long trip to Philadelphia. Classes frequently involve group projects but we saw plenty of textbook prep for science exams too. In a study of global revolutions, 10th-graders create displays and handouts about revolutions in Cuba, Mexico and Russia. Students take four years of science, including chemistry and physics. The biology lab is covered with plants and are part of the classrooms community and population, the teacher explained. Some teachers require students to re-do sub-par work until their grade comes up to an 85 or 90.

There are several advanced visual arts classes in addition to intro to art and intro theater classes in 9th grade. Tenth-graders all take a theatre class and some continue in 11th grade, performing updated version of Shakespearean plays, such as Twelfth Night done to disco music. Middle-schoolers get piano lessons four days a week and art every semester. But, for a school with technology in its name, there is a lack of up-to-date equipment. Students use laptop computers to research and write assignments but most classrooms are not equipped with SMART boards. Some teachers prefer old-fashioned chalkboards. The principal plans to incorporate more technology and the library will be made over into a media center.

Despite the lack of a proper gym, Wagner has an active and successful sports program, sharing 16 teams shared with two other local schools: International High School at LaGuardia and Middle College High School.

There are two fulltime guidance counselors, one of whom can offer one on one therapy to students who need it. Many teenagers have responsibilities at home and must care for younger siblings.

Special education: The school offers Integrated Co-Teaching classes in high school; there are no special education students in the middle school.

College admissions: Only about half the students go to college; about 50 percent of them to CUNYs, including LaGuardia College which is just two blocks away. College readiness was not a focus here at all, said the principal adding that will change now that there is a college counselor.

Admissions: There are 60 seats and 200 applicants for the selective middle school program. Applicants must produce a writing sample on the spot, and sit for a group interview and activity. There is a big emphasis on group work and students must be able to function in a high school setting, said longtime guidance counselor Luis Fayed. About half the 8th-graders stay for high school; a dozen of the top performers go to specialized exam schools such as Brooklyn Tech, Stuyvesant and Bronx Science or to Townsend Harris. Talented kids frequently go to LaGuardia or Frank Sinatra. Others leave for bigger high schools such as Forest Hills, but some return to Wagner, preferring the cozier atmosphere. Priority is given to continuing 8th graders for the high school; the rest are selected via the Ed Opt method, allowing a range of students of all levels. (Pamela Wheaton, December 2011; principal update February 2015)

About the students

Enrollment
635
Asian
22.5%
Black
4.7%
Hispanic
58.9%
White
12.8%
Other
1.1%
Free or reduced priced lunch
78%
Students with disabilities
15%
English language learners
5%

About the school

Shared campus?
No
This school is in its own building.
Uniforms required?
No
Metal detectors?
No
How crowded? (Full is 100%)
97%
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

Attendance

Average daily attendance
91%
90% Citywide Average
How many students are chronically absent?
22%
27% Citywide Average

Is this school safe?

How many teachers say order and discipline are maintained at this school?
96%
74% Citywide Average
How many students think bullying happens most or all of the time at this school?
9%
22% Citywide Average
How many students say they feel safe in the hallways, bathrooms and locker rooms?
93%
82% Citywide Average
How many students say most students treat each other with respect?
78%
48% Citywide Average

About the leadership

Years of principal experience at this school
1.9
5.8 Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?
93%
77% Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal has a clear vision for this school?
92%
82% Citywide Average
How many teachers trust the principal?
92%
78% Citywide Average

About the teachers

How many teachers have 3 or more years of experience teaching?
82%
70% Citywide Average
Teacher attendance
96%
97% Citywide Average
How many teachers say they would recommend this school to other families?
96%
80% Citywide Average
How many teachers think the staff collaborate to make this school run effectively?
89%
83% 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?
79%
30% Citywide Average
How many students scored 3-4 on the state ELA exam?
77%
35% Citywide Average

Arts offerings

This school has 8 dedicated spaces for Dance, Music, Theater, Visual arts, an Auditorium, and a Film Studio
This school has 7 licensed arts teachers in Dance (part-time), Theater (part-time), Visual arts (part-time), and Music

Engaging curriculum?

How many students say this school offers enough programs, classes and activities to keep them interested?
78%
68% Citywide Average
How many students say they are challenged in most or all of their classes?
55%
52% Citywide Average
How many students say the programs, classes and activities here encourage them to develop talent outside academics?
81%
68% Citywide Average

Are students prepared for high school?

Accelerated courses offered for high school credit
Algebra I, Earth Science
How many 8th graders earn high school credit?
100%
38% Citywide Average
How many graduates of this school pass all their classes in 9th grade?
96%
87% Citywide Average
What high schools do most graduates attend?
Robert F. Wagner, Jr. Secondary School for Arts and Technology
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

How many graduate?

How many students graduate in 4 years?
87%
83% Citywide Average
How many graduates earn Advanced Regents diplomas?
1%
13% Citywide Average
How many students drop out?
2%
4% Citywide Average

Are students prepared for college?

How many students graduate with test scores high enough to enroll at CUNY without remedial help?
51%
38% Citywide Average
How many students take a college-level course or earn a professional certificate?
41%
48% Citywide Average
How many graduate and enter college within 18 months?
75%
71% Citywide Average
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%
7% Citywide Average
How many English language learners graduate in 4 years?
83%
65% 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 self-contained students
2.85
2.1 Citywide Average
Average ELA score for self-contained students
2.66
2.2 Citywide Average
How many students say that students with disabilities are included in all activities?
59%
64% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say this school offers enough activities and services for their children's needs?
88%
85% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say this school works to achive the goals of their students' IEPs?
94%
89% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say they are satisfied with the IEP development process at this school?
88%
87% Citywide Average
How many special ed students graduate in 4 years?
63%
67% Citywide Average
For more information about our data sources, see About Our Data

Programs and Admissions

Arts and Technology for New Students
Admissions Method: Ed. Opt.
Program Description

Opportunities in the arts, career education, athletics, college classes, trips, and conferences.

Arts and Technology for Current Students
Admissions Method: For Continuing 8th Graders
Program Description

See above description.

Academics

Language Courses

Spanish

Advanced Placement (AP) courses

AP English, AP US History

Sports

Boys PSAL teams

Baseball, Basketball, Soccer, Volleyball, Wrestling

Girls PSAL teams

Basketball, Golf, Soccer, Softball, Tennis, Volleyball

Coed PSAL teams

Golf

Read about admissions, academics, and more at this school on the NYCDOE’s School Finder
NYC Department of Education: School Finder

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