I.S. 227 Louis Armstrong

Grades 5-8
Staff Pick Staff Pick for Special Ed
Marquee homepage

What’s Special

Experienced teachers and lively classes

The Downside

Far more applicants than seats

Our Review

An experienced, enthusiastic staff, a well-equipped building and a top-notch special education program have made Louis Armstrong Middle School one of the most sought after schools in Queens. The school, which serves grades 5 to 8, is open to all children in the borough. Unfortunately, there are far more applicants than seats available.

Founded in 1979 as a court-ordered experiment in racial integration, Louis Armstrong embodies the philosophy that children learn best when they have classmates from different ethnic groups, neighborhoods and academic abilities. The make-up of the student body mirrors Queens as a whole: Students’ families come from 100 different countries and speak 51 different languages.

Children of different religions, cultures and ethnicities mix with one another not only in class, but also during their free time in the cafeteria and on the playground. “Children are not afraid to ask each other questions like ‘Why do you wear a headscarf?’” one teacher said.

Children of different academic abilities learn from one another and sometimes discover surprising strengths. A girl with developmental delays was recognized for her leadership skills—and elected vice president of the student government. A child who reads below grade level might be a star musician or computer programmer.

“It is not an intense, highly competitive academic environment,” one parent told InsideSchools. “I do not, however, see this as negative. Rather, the focus is on building organizational skills, interpersonal skills, and other skills that will allow for success at more rigorous academics down the line.”

It’s a tolerant, happy place. Another mother recalled how her shy and quiet daughter developed self-confidence. “She has learned to take initiative,” this mother said.

The classes we visited were lively, with students actively engaged in projects. In one science class, children built foam rollercoasters with marbles to learn about acceleration, building the foundation for them to study physics in high school. In another science class, children played tug-of-war with a rope to understand how stress under the Earth’s surface can lead to earthquakes. “Children learn best when they make real life connections,” the teacher said. “It stays with them longer.”

Principal Helen Pontella is a math specialist, and the math classes we visited reflected her excitement and enthusiasm about the subject. Children are not separated by ability, and teachers adapt lessons to challenge top students while giving support to those who need it. For example, in a math class with two teachers, some students used paper cutouts to measure angles while those with a more abstract understanding calculated the angles using an approach called transformational geometry. 

The music department is strong, with a band, orchestra and chorus.  The school offers studio art, ceramics and classes in sculpture.

The staff is experienced, but teachers are always on the look-out for ways to perfect their craft. Teachers meet regularly to plan lessons, visit one another’s classes, and may take graduate courses for free at Queens College. Many Queens College students do their student teaching at Louis Armstrong.

SPECIAL EDUCATION: The special education program is a model for the city in this barrier-free building. Louis Armstrong is unusual because many teachers have certification in both their subject matter, like math or science, and special education. Most students with special needs are in team-teaching classes taught by two teachers.  Students with severe disabilities are in “self-contained” classes. Physically handicapped children use an adaptive physical education room filled with mats and equipment.

ADMISSIONS: Interested parents should attend an open house in December or January. There are many more applicants than seats. Admission is through a complex lottery system designed to maintain racial balance. The lottery also ensures that children of differing abilities attend. The odds of admission are somewhat better in 5th grade than in 6th grade. There are occasionally a handful of seats available mid-year or in the upper grades; contact the parent coordinator for information. (Clara Hemphill, October 2017)

About the students

Enrollment
1578
Asian
13.6%
Black
9.5%
Hispanic
48.9%
White
27.1%
Other
1.0%
Free or reduced priced lunch
72%
Students with disabilities
14%
English language learners
4%

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
96%
93% Citywide Average
How many students are chronically absent?
7%
20% Citywide Average

Is this school safe?

How many teachers say order and discipline are maintained at this school?
94%
78% Citywide Average
How many students think bullying happens most or all of the time at this school?
34%
50% Citywide Average
How many students say they feel safe in the hallways, bathrooms and locker rooms?
90%
83% Citywide Average
How many students say most students treat each other with respect?
64%
43% Citywide Average

About the leadership

Years of principal experience at this school
1.4
6.0 Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?
74%
82% Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal has a clear vision for this school?
82%
89% Citywide Average
How many teachers trust the principal?
70%
83% Citywide Average

About the teachers

How many teachers have 3 or more years of experience teaching?
86%
72% Citywide Average
Teacher attendance
96%
96% Citywide Average
How many teachers say they would recommend this school to other families?
96%
82% Citywide Average
How many teachers think the staff collaborate to make this school run effectively?
90%
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?
68%
27% Citywide Average
How many students scored 3-4 on the state ELA exam?
65%
35% Citywide Average

Arts offerings

This school has 7 dedicated spaces for Music and Visual arts
This school has 6 licensed arts teacher in Music and Theater

Engaging curriculum?

How many students say this school offers enough programs, classes and activities to keep them interested?
79%
76% Citywide Average
How many students say they are challenged in most or all of their classes?
63%
61% Citywide Average
How many students say the programs, classes and activities here encourage them to develop talent outside academics?
80%
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?
68%
26% Citywide Average
How many graduates of this school pass all their classes in 9th grade?
95%
84% Citywide Average
What high schools do most graduates attend?
Aviation Career & Technical Education HS, Forest Hills HS, and Long Island City HS
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?
14%
3% Citywide Average
How many former English language learners score 3-4 on the State ELA exam?
57%
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
2.02
1.9 Citywide Average
Average math score for self-contained students
2.57
2.1 Citywide Average
Average ELA score for ICT students
2.11
1.9 Citywide Average
Average ELA score for self-contained students
2.49
2.2 Citywide Average
Average math score for SETSS students
2.37
2.3 Citywide Average
Average ELA score for SETSS students
2.68
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?
90%
87% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say this school works to achive the goals of their students' IEPs?
95%
90% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say they are satisfied with the IEP development process at this school?
94%
89% Citywide Average
For more information about our data sources, see About Our Data
  • Give specific examples. Tell us why this school rocks (or doesn't).
  • Criticism is fine, but no profanity, racist or ethnic slurs, or personal attacks.
  • All users must comply with our Terms of Use.

Location

32-02 Junction Boulevard
Queens NY 11369
East Elmhurst (District 30)
Trains:
Buses: Q19, Q23, Q49, Q66, Q72

Contact

Phone
718-335-7500
Principal
Helen Ponella
Parent Coordinator
Deboraha Vigorito Catald