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587 Aspire Preparatory Middle School

Schoolbook

City to Vote on School Closings After Weeks of Hearings

Thursday, February 09, 2012

After weeks of hearings, many of them emotionally wrenching, the Panel for Educational Policy will decide Thursday night which schools in the city they will close -- partially or entirely -- for academic failure.

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WNYC News

Aspire Prep Says It Should Not Be Closed Based on One Bad Year

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


To hear its principal, Steven Cobb, tell the story, <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/schoolbook/school/587-aspire-preparatory-middle-school">Aspire Preparatory Middle School </a>experienced the perfect storm in the fall of 2010. The state made its annual math and reading tests harder to pass that year and, like most schools, Aspire did poorly. 
Then, just as the school was adjusting to meet the tougher standards, the staff was hammered, Mr. Cobb said. Eight of his 34 teachers were out sick for extended periods during the last school year. 
"I had a teacher that went out on maternity leave for seven months," he explained. "A teacher who was hospitalized for six months. Teachers with legitimate medical issues that were out for over 100 days."
In a small school with about 500 students, Mr. Cobb said having almost a quarter of his staff chronically absent was devastating. Christopher Joanis taught seventh grade last year and recalled the revolving door of substitutes.
"I was actually next door to two classes that were manned by substitutes. I would stand out, many times, having to manage that. Kids would be sent to my room if they were a little out of control in the other classes," he said.
Meanwhile, instead of immersing themselves in new strategies -- as they had planned over the summer -- teachers said they had to help the substitutes with basic lessons. As a result, when the kids were tested last spring, less than a quarter of them passed the English Language arts exam.
With those low scores, Mr. Cobb says he fully expected the F he received on his latest report card. But he didn't expect that would put him on the list of 19 schools that Department of Education officials have recommended be phased out. 
Mr. Cobb made all of those points during a public hearing Monday night on the school's fate. About 150 parents, teachers and students filled the school's auditorium and loudly cheered for the principal. 
Grace Lovaghio, a vice president of the local Community Education Council for District 11, asked, "Why bring in another school? Why not bring those resources to Aspire?"
Deputy Chancellor Kathleen Grimm took notes throughout the hearing. She told the audience that Aspire was on the state’s list of <a href="http://www.p12.nysed.gov/irs/accountability/LowAchieve/2011/PersistentlyDangerous2011List.pdf">Persistently Dangerous Schools</a>. She also said its low scores put it within the bottom 10 percent of all city middle schools. 
Asked later if last year could have been a fluke because of the absent teachers, Ms. Grimm held firm.
"This is a big system," she said. "Could I find another school that had similar problems last year and the children did O.K.? I probably could."
If anything, until 2010 Aspire was considered the solution to persistent failure. It’s one of three small schools, along with <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/schoolbook/school/588-bronx-green-middle-school">Bronx Green</a> and <a href="http://">Pelham Preparatory Academy</a>, that replaced Whelan middle school in the Northeast Bronx. 
All three schools have higher test scores than the school they replaced. Aspire earned Bs from the city until its grade fell to a C in 2010 when the state made its exams harder to pass.
This year, Mr. Cobb said his staff is already turning around the school. Nobody’s been ill. Student attendance is up. And teachers said they are now immersed in a new curriculum that gives students 20 percent more time for math and English Language Arts. 
The Panel for Educational Policy is expected to approve the city's recommendations to close the 19 schools at its Feb. 9 meeting.

To hear its principal, Steven Cobb, tell the story, Aspire Preparatory Middle School experienced the perfect storm in the fall of 2010. The state made its annual math and reading tests harder to pass that year and, like most schools, Aspire did poorly. Then, just as the school was adjusting to meet the tougher standards, the staff was hammered, Mr. Cobb said. Eight of his 34 teachers were out sick for extended periods during the last school year. 

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Schoolbook

Aspire Prep Says It Should Not Be Penalized for One Bad Year

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Bronx middle school Aspire Preparatory claims it is being unfairly tarnished because of one especially bad year. The school earned its first F last year when a high number of teachers were absent and it had to lean heavily on a revolving door of substitutes. Now it will likely be phased out, only a few years after it took the place of an even less successful school.

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Schoolbook

Dates Set for School Closing Hearings

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

The city's Department of Education has set hearing dates for the 25 schools that officials have recommended for closing or for the removal of middle school grades. The Panel for Educational Policy will vote on the recommendations on Feb. 9.

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Schoolbook

25 Schools Could Be Closed or Truncated

Friday, December 09, 2011

In the second part of a two-day announcement, city education officials added 10 schools to the list of schools it will close, phase out over a period of several years or truncate in the next year, bringing the total to 25 schools. Last year, the city proposed to close or truncate 26 schools.

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Schoolbook

School Closing Announcements Start Thursday

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

UPDATED | Schools Chancellor Dennis M. Walcott announced Wednesday at a District 2 Town Hall meeting that the Education Department will reveal within the next two days which of the city's struggling schools it will close.

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Schoolbook

State to Revise Its List of 'Dangerous Schools'

Monday, October 10, 2011

The state Education Department left 20,000 violent incidents in city schools undocumented -- likely part of the reason that only 9 of the 19 "most dangerous schools" were from New York City. Now officials are revising their list of the most crime-plagued schools.

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Schoolbook

Following Progress Reports, New List of 20 Struggling Schools

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Department of Education released the list of 20 elementary and middle schools it has tagged as “struggling” following the release of the school progress reports. Identifying the struggling schools is the first step in a long, emotional and legally mandated exercise the department has engaged in every year since 2008 to either try to turn schools around or shut them.

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Schoolbook

3,500 Classes With Too Many Students

Monday, September 12, 2011

More children are being squeezed into classrooms this year, with 3,500 classes already recorded that are over the contractual limits for middle and high schools, the Daily News reports. Fewer city schools are on the "persistently dangerous" list this year, down to 9 from 12, according to the New York Post. A Brooklyn school honors 9/11 victims today.

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