J.H.S. 74 Nathaniel Hawthorne

Grades 6-8
Staff Pick
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What’s Special

Strong academics with emphasis on arts and writing

The Downside

No indoor place to play on rainy days

Our Review

MS 74 is a large middle school boasting strong academics, high attendance rates and an impressive record of sending graduates to competitive high schools. As a neighborhood school that draws most of its students from local elementary schools, MS 74 attracts kids of all skill levels and strives to accommodate diverse needs. Each grade has "special progress" (SP) classes for high achievers, general education classes that cater to a range of abilities, and special education classes.

Anthony Armstrong, who had served as an assistant principal, took over as principal in September 2011. While maintaining much of the program he has focused on improving writing skills by encouraging writing in all classes and yes, he says, "grammar does count."

Armstrong also emphasizes teamwork and collaboration -- among the staff, between staff and students, and among students themselves -- as well as developing partnerships with organization that could bring increased resources to the school. It is "a culture of teamwork" that, one longtime teacher said, could make an already strong school even better.

Located near the Long Island Expressway, MS 74's large 1958 building underwent exterior renovations during the 2008-09 school year. Inside, the tone is calm. Classes are large, with more than 30 students in most, but the high numbers don't seem to impede instruction. Generally, students appear well-behaved and engaged.

Hallways get a bit hectic between periods, but kids keep moving. Armstrong has a relaxed attitude toward students, who casually approach him as he walks the hall. He quickly notices, though, when something is amiss -- a towel lying in the hall, a teacher who is late unlocking a classroom.

For the academic subjects, students are admitted to special progress classes on the basis of test scores and teacher recommendations. Scheduling limitations mean a student must be in special progress classes for all academic subjects or none. One student who was in general classes before being transferred to the special progress group said the advanced classes tend to be better. "The kids are more into the class, they're more sociable, they work more," he said.

Students in special progress classes take earth science and algebra in 8th grade, enabling them to take the Regents. In 8th grade English, one teacher has all her students read Lois Lowry's anti-utopian novel The Giver - but the advanced students also read Anthem, by Ayn Rand (the school got copies from the Ayn Rand Foundation) and compared the idea of community in the two books.

The groups mingle for arts classes, phys ed and lunch.

To ease the transition to middle school, 6th graders have the same teacher for English and social studies. This enables them to spend three periods a day with the same teacher.

Armstrong, a former music teacher, is particularly proud of the arts program, noting that a student who is not academically advanced may be proficient in the arts. All students select an art to study: band, chorus, dance and so on. Spanish is the only foreign language taught.

Fairly sophisticated facilities -- a graphic and design lab, a dance room with mirror and barre, band instruments and a grand piano - bolster instruction. The staff seems adept at getting grants to support some of this work but maintaining and updating the equipment poses a challenge. Along with grants, the school also has enlisted a number of partners for after school programs, arts and other offerings. A downside: There is no indoor space to play, so on rainy days children spend part of their lunch period in the auditorium.

About one third of graduates go on to specialized high schools. The school also encourages students to consider nearby alternatives, including Townsend Harris, Bayside and Cardozo, as well as arts schools.

Special education: The school offers Special Education Teacher Support Services, self-contained classes for students with special needs, and Collaborative Team classes, as well as classes for students with severe developmental disabilities.

Admissions: Neighborhood school. Admission to the gifted and talented programis based on a combination of factors that make up a "composite score"the final 4th grade report card counts for 35 percent, state tests 35 percent, student performance indicators 20 percent and attendance ten percent.(Gail Robinson, December 2011; admissions updated January 2015)

About the students

Enrollment
1131
Asian
64.7%
Black
4.3%
Hispanic
10.0%
White
19.5%
Other
1.4%
Free or reduced priced lunch
43%
Students with disabilities
14%
English language learners
6%

About the school

Shared campus?
No
This school is in its own building.
Uniforms required?
No
Metal detectors?
No
How crowded? (Full is 100%)
90%
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

Attendance

Average daily attendance
98%
93% Citywide Average
How many students are chronically absent?
4%
20% Citywide Average

Is this school safe?

How many teachers say order and discipline are maintained at this school?
91%
77% Citywide Average
How many students think bullying happens most or all of the time at this school?
15%
28% Citywide Average
How many students say they feel safe in the hallways, bathrooms and locker rooms?
82%
82% Citywide Average
How many students say most students treat each other with respect?
52%
43% Citywide Average

About the leadership

Years of principal experience at this school
4.8
6.0 Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?
88%
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?
81%
82% Citywide Average

About the teachers

How many teachers have 3 or more years of experience teaching?
73%
72% Citywide Average
Teacher attendance
97%
96% Citywide Average
How many teachers say they would recommend this school to other families?
92%
81% Citywide Average
How many teachers think the staff collaborate to make this school run effectively?
88%
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?
77%
27% Citywide Average
How many students scored 3-4 on the state ELA exam?
68%
30% Citywide Average

Arts offerings

This school has 7 dedicated spaces for Dance, Music, Theater, Visual arts, and a Film Studio
This school has 5 licensed arts teachers in Dance, Music, and Theater

Engaging curriculum?

How many students say this school offers enough programs, classes and activities to keep them interested?
83%
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?
78%
72% Citywide Average

Are students prepared for high school?

Accelerated courses offered for high school credit
Spanish, US History, Algebra I, Living Environment
How many 8th graders earn high school credit?
45%
26% Citywide Average
How many graduates of this school pass all their classes in 9th grade?
96%
84% Citywide Average
What high schools do most graduates attend?
Benjamin N. Cardozo HS, Francis Lewis HS, and Bronx HS of Science
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?
18%
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
1.89
1.9 Citywide Average
Average math score for self-contained students
2.64
2.1 Citywide Average
Average ELA score for ICT students
2.08
1.9 Citywide Average
Average ELA score for self-contained students
2.55
2.2 Citywide Average
Average math score for SETSS students
3.05
2.3 Citywide Average
Average ELA score for SETSS students
2.74
2.3 Citywide Average
How many students say that students with disabilities are included in all activities?
65%
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?
97%
90% Citywide Average
For more information about our data sources, see About Our Data
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