Village Academy

Grades 6-8
Staff Pick Staff Pick for Special Ed
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What’s Special

Strong leadership and a focus on literacy and families.

The Downside

Prison-like building; its been difficult to attract experienced teachers.

Our Review

This promising new small school in Far Rockaway is bursting with energy and ambition. Test scores, while still low, are improving. Satisfaction is high and attendance is above average. Housed in troubled MS 53, where suspension rates are high and test scores are low, Village Academy offers students in the zone another middle school option.

Founding Principal Doris Lee holds Village Academy to the same standards she seeks for her own children who attend New York City public schools. "Literacy is key," she says. All students take a double period of Humanities where they explore ancient civilizations. They also take a literacy class for more focused reading practice. Parents are also key, according to Lee, and this accounts for the school's name, based on the saying, "It takes a village to raise a child." Letters go home with tips on how parents can be involved, such as using flashcards to reinforce new math words. Parents are invited to workshops and celebrations.

Lee's enthusiasm is infectious. You believe her when she says: "It's cool to be smart and behave." She knows every child's name, and parents have her personal cell phone number. She previously taught at JHS 57 in Bedford-Stuyvesant where she had success with students with special needs. Referring to her students' achievement on state standardized exams, she said, "[my 6th-graders] came in at a Level 1 and left at Level 3...100 percent made progress." At Village Academy, students from a small special education classroom have moved into classrooms with general education students. English Language Learners also get special attention. On our visit we saw a teacher using a microphone because Lee said research has shown it helps with listening and behavior.

Students said they like the way lessons are tied to "the things going on today," like human rights and animal extinction. Teachers bring newspapers to class. "Newspapers help us see what's going on," said a student. In a Humanities class, children sat at tables in small groups, each learning about different aspects of Egyptian life. The teacher asked them to think about how life in Ancient Egypt impacts life today.

Overall, the staff at Village Academy has less experience than at most schools, because it's hard to lure teachers to the margins of the city. Still, most of the teaching looked quite good, perhaps because school leaders have such a clear vision. And the staff is nicely diverse.

All children participate in a "mastery" program on Friday afternoons. Choices include African drumming, dance and martial arts. Football and basketball are offered after school. Students may apply to an honor's track for faster learners. Twenty-six are in the honors 8th grade Integrated Algebra class.

Security is tight at the front entrance of the building, which unfortunately looks like a prison, but was built to withstand earthquakes. Village Academy is on an upper floor and has cheery yellow walls with blue trim. "It's safe," said a 6th grade parent, "it's like a second home."

A possible downside, depending on your point of view, is the emphasis on rewards and incentives. Staff hand out "VA bucks," (fake money) for good behavior and attendance. Students cash them in for small items or to attend events like ice-skating or a dance. One could argue it is the positive relationships between students and staff that are making the most difference. "Everyone just takes ownership," said Lee. "Our students have the same issues that all middle school children have. Everyone goes above and beyond."

The guidance counselor meets with every 8th grader to discuss high school. "We like small high schools for our kids," she said. "We don't want them to get lost." Thirty students took the test in 2011-12 for one of the eight specialized high schools for very bright kids. Tutoring is available to prepare for this test.

Special education: There are Integrated Co-Teaching (ICT) classes on every grade, which mix special and general needs students with two teachers.

Admissions: Village Academy shares the MS 53 zone. Students can express a preference between the two schools. (February 2012, Lydie Raschka)

About the students

Enrollment
314
Asian
1.3%
Black
57.0%
Hispanic
38.5%
White
1.9%
Other
1.3%
Free or reduced priced lunch
64%
Students with disabilities
20%
English language learners
16%

About the school

Shared campus?
Yes
This school shares a building with MS 53 and Success Academy Far Rockaway Charter
Uniforms required?
Yes
Metal detectors?
Yes
How crowded? (Full is 100%)
67%
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

Attendance

Average daily attendance
93%
93% Citywide Average
How many students are chronically absent?
24%
20% Citywide Average

Is this school safe?

How many teachers say order and discipline are maintained at this school?
80%
78% Citywide Average
How many students think bullying happens most or all of the time at this school?
43%
50% Citywide Average
How many students say they feel safe in the hallways, bathrooms and locker rooms?
89%
83% Citywide Average
How many students say most students treat each other with respect?
57%
43% Citywide Average

About the leadership

Years of principal experience at this school
7.0
6.0 Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?
86%
82% Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal has a clear vision for this school?
91%
89% Citywide Average
How many teachers trust the principal?
87%
83% Citywide Average

About the teachers

How many teachers have 3 or more years of experience teaching?
53%
72% Citywide Average
Teacher attendance
97%
96% Citywide Average
How many teachers say they would recommend this school to other families?
87%
82% Citywide Average
How many teachers think the staff collaborate to make this school run effectively?
96%
87% 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?
12%
27% Citywide Average
How many students scored 3-4 on the state ELA exam?
19%
35% Citywide Average

Arts offerings

This school has 0 dedicated spaces for the arts.
This school has 0 licensed arts teacher in Dance, Music, Theater or Visual arts

Engaging curriculum?

How many students say this school offers enough programs, classes and activities to keep them interested?
86%
76% Citywide Average
How many students say they are challenged in most or all of their classes?
83%
61% Citywide Average
How many students say the programs, classes and activities here encourage them to develop talent outside academics?
87%
72% Citywide Average

Are students prepared for high school?

Accelerated courses offered for high school credit
Algebra I, Living Environment
How many 8th graders earn high school credit?
22%
26% Citywide Average
How many graduates of this school pass all their classes in 9th grade?
83%
84% Citywide Average
What high schools do most graduates attend?
Queens HS for Information, Research, and Technology, Frederick Douglass Academy VI HS, and Channel View School for Research
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?
0%
3% Citywide Average
How many former English language learners score 3-4 on the State ELA exam?
23%
42% 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
1.85
1.9 Citywide Average
Average math score for self-contained students
1.95
2.1 Citywide Average
Average ELA score for ICT students
2.0
1.9 Citywide Average
Average ELA score for self-contained students
2.13
2.2 Citywide Average
Average math score for SETSS students
2.54
2.3 Citywide Average
Average ELA score for SETSS students
2.56
2.3 Citywide Average
How many students say that students with disabilities are included in all activities?
79%
68% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say this school offers enough activities and services for their children's needs?
85%
87% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say this school works to achive the goals of their students' IEPs?
88%
90% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say they are satisfied with the IEP development process at this school?
79%
89% Citywide Average
For more information about our data sources, see About Our Data
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Location

10-45 Nameoke Street
Queens NY 11691
Far Rockaway (District 27)
Trains: A to Far Rockaway - Mott Ave
Buses: Q114, Q22

Contact

Phone
718-471-6042
Principal
Doris Lee
Parent Coordinator
Kimberly Kitt Cooper

Zone for the 2017-2018 school year. Call school to confirm.