NY Times: P.S. 8 to Receive an “F”

Schools Chancellor Joel Klein and Mayor Bloomberg will be announcing letter grades for NYC Public Schools next week according to the New York Times.  The marks are based on a formula that takes into account individual students year to year progress, the overall number of students meeting state achievement standards and how it measures up it to other schools serving similar areas.  The paper claims P.S. 8, a school that has been praised for its great progress and quality, will receive an F.  The school recently added trailer annexes in its schoolyard to address overcrowding.

Update: Principal Seth Phillips will hold a meeting with parents at the school on Monday (9/15) at 8 AM according to the Brooklyn Paper. NOTE: According to a P.S. 8 source the meeting is at 8 AM, not PM as reported in the B’Paper.

Update 2: The Times follows up on the F grade.

Update 3: WABC-TV report.

Update 4: 2003 NYT article on how P.S. 8 was set up to succeed.

New York Times: Low Grade…: When the first round of report cards was unveiled last fall, there were some counterintuitive results and many complaints, but now, P.S. 8 could be the most highly regarded and popular school to receive an F.

Last school year, 67 percent of its students passed standardized tests in English and 83 percent in math, and many who know the school said such a grade would be misleading and preposterous.

“It’s a real indictment of the grading system if it takes a school that is improving rapidly and is already doing pretty well and brands it with an F,” said City Councilman David Yassky, whose district includes P.S. 8.

“It used to be that every summer I’d have parents tell me they’re moving out because there was no decent elementary school for their kids to go to,” Mr. Yassky said. “Now they’re staying in Brooklyn Heights at least through the fifth grade. The resurgence of P.S. 8 has kept a lot of young families in Brooklyn Heights, and it’s been just a tremendous boon for the neighborhood.”

Seth Phillips, who has been principal of P.S. 8 since 2003 and participated in a prestigious fellowship program last school year for outstanding principals at Columbia University’s Teachers College, declined to comment. Principals were notified of their expected grades but were ordered not to discuss them until they are announced, which is expected next week.

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  • here since 89

    The only honorable thing he can do at his meeting on monday night is fall on his sword. He should resign.
    Then the community can start over and PS 8 can become a real public school again instead of a fake St Ann’s. There are no grades or tests at St Ann’s. That is because it is a school for the children of the wealthy. A public school needs to be run in a very different manner. A role model? The PS in Chinatown, Manhattan. It is in PS 8’s group of competitive schools. It got an “A” last year, probably an “A” this year. Which graduates are going to get the best jobs in science and technology do you think?

  • bkmom

    The school has been in transition for the last 5 years or thereabouts. They have had to train brand new teachers every year, and last year many of these were in testing grades. The transition is bumpy, as many are. Seth is doing a great job, as are most of the staff/faculty members. Calling for drastic measures like firing people is just going to make the transition longer and more painful. The report card doesn’t measure how a school community feels, or how a school welcomes parents into the building, or how many enrichment programs there are. It’s definitely a risk to have your children in a transitional school. Many proud PS 8 parents will tell you they were there when nobody else was. They knew the risks and are happy with what they are getting. Yes, it would be nice if more kids passed the test, but it is an amazing accomplishment that more kids are passing now than ever before.

  • here since 89

    I don’t think some of you understand the outrage and hurt that many of us feel in the neighborhood. The Times piece was humilitating. It was an insult to Brooklyn Heights. It was not a complimentary essay on the lifestyles of the residents of our little, and possibly too-inbred, old neighborhood.
    The principal needs to go. I’m sure he is awfully nice but he is hopeless. He has to go. I will be the red headed lady in the room on Monday night asking (again and again if need be) : “Tell me why you think you should stay on as principal after getting an F?”.

  • lifer

    89, Didn’t you read the article? it speaks well of the school and what Seth has accomplished, and mentions how questionable the testing is. I believe it was on the side of the school, the changes it has made since Seth stepped in. “A fake St Ann’s”? thats redundant, paying money to NOT be tested?, talk about entitlement. There are more people on this thread speaking of the virtues of ps8 than against it, where are all your outraged residents? There are improvements to be made, but many have been made thanks to Seth. So since you’re going to the meeting, you must have a kid at the school (its for parents), are they stupid or inept?

  • Living in the Heights

    Dear here since 89,

    Do you have children? If you did, you would be more concerned about the education and upbringing of your child than the “blemish” on the neighborhood. As someone that prides herself as being here since 89, you should think about what a community is all about. A community supports one another. They don’t turn their backs on each other. I for one (as a resident of Brooklyn Heights) am proud of Seth Phillips and his accomplishments at PS8. In fact, I find a community member that would make such harsh judgements without knowing all the facts and obviously never having stepped foot into the school to be an insult to Brooklyn Heights.

  • bkmom

    here since 89
    Did you see the school before 2002? That was an embarrassment for the neighborhood. The students then were truly ill-served. Did you complain then?

  • here since 89

    Well, you all think that the city-wide test is badly flawed and that ps 8 deserves an A rather than an F. That is a little hard to swallow. I went to school in France. There, everything revolves around the tests. if you are the son of the Viscount de so-and-so, then it did not matter to you, but for everyone else, it mattered a lot, let me tell you. Tests in France determine your station in life. I think the same is true here, but for some reason you do not admit it. C’est la vie, you do as you like, getting an “F” in France is a major disgrace, perhaps not here.

  • Parents

    PS 8 is a community filled with active learners. Those active learners include, not only students, but teachers, administrators, parents and staff. We will rise to this current challenge and we will surpass it without placing blame on the principal. As a community, we have made choices that we know are in the best interest of our children. We stand by those choices.

  • Porthos

    Ms. Here Since 89
    The only thing that outrages me about all this is finding out that seriously nutty people like you live in my neighborhood. Your station in life? Maybe instead of disrupting the meeting, you should seek treatment form a mental health professional.

  • here since 89

    Parents: what does that mean? You sound like George Bush.
    “we will rise to this current challenge and surpass it”
    We the parents of the white children of PS 8 do not give a damn how badly the colored children do.
    This is our neighborhood, damn it, and we are doing a heck of a good job.
    Please, I do not want to be too French, but please hear yourself.

  • ps8 parent

    Maybe that’s because getting a F in France means something, unlike the meaninglessness of an F that literally ignores 4 out of 7 grades and the bulk of the curriculum.

  • here since 89

    I now believe that PS 8 is what the neighborhood deserves. This is a bigoted place, very ignorant of others.
    I have cried a lot today.
    I am moving out of here. It is too hypocritical a neighborhood for me. I have already had big fights with two friends. Americans are hopeless when it comes to Black/White issues. Brooklyn Heights is worst than most. Maybe fifty years behind the rest of the civilized world.
    This is a racist neighborhood, no question, how many minorities are on the Brooklyn Heights Association? Two?
    So arrogant and so outnumbered, you are like the Afrikaans, except you can take refuge in your greater nation (which you disparage). I will not go to the meeting on Monday, I need to find a new place to live.

  • Parents

    FYI – I am not “white” and I don’t even live in the heights. My children are part of the magnet grant. Maybe you are surprised that a non-white can own a computer and also have an Internet connection – let alone an interest in their children’s education. I am that sophisticated – even though it may be hard to believe. I’ll make sure to pass your message on to the white parents that helped me construct the message. Sadly though – one of them doesn’t have high-speed access so I’ll probably have to print it out for her.

  • parent

    Now that i have been looking at this more, I realized that the problem really is the comparables.

    The comparables are looking at free lunch, special needs, not sure if they are looking at race or not.

    But if they decide on a list of comparable schools based on the total demographics of the total populations of the school…

    and not on the comparable based on who actually is taking the test .. then in a school where the demographics of the kids taking the tests are really different than the school as a whole — then we are in the wrong comparable group.

    the kindergarten is not tested but is full of kids that are not free lunch. upper grades have more free lunch. that is the grade that is tested.

    it is unusual for a school to be experiencing such a radical change in demographics and i think its making the stats not work out the way they are intended to..

    someone who understands the system needs to look very hard if the comparables as to who is being tested are fair…..

  • BklynLifer


    Why the personal attacks?

    As I see it, this issue is not about the neighborhood, or racism, or St Ann’s.

    It’s about what happens when an arrogant lawyer is hired by an out-of-touch billionaire to run a system about which he understands nothing. Rather than hire as chancellor an educator like Carmen Farina who could tell in five minutes if a school was great (A), good (B), mediocre (C), piss poor (D), or disgusting (F), he creates an “accountability” system that is fundamentally flawed in its assumption that the tests on which he bases “accountability” tell us everything we need to know.

    This scenario is playiing out all across the city. Dedicated educators like Seth Phillips are stressed beyond endurance by the fear that they will “fail.” So they respond in an appropriate way — dump their hard-to-teach kids on other schools, do endless test prep and drill, drop the arts and gym and other non-tested areas, and — when all else fails — make sure your teachers know the consequences of their “failure” so they decide to help their kids during the test.

    We need to dump this clown and get an educator as chancellor. Someone who knows what “good” is, and who values the professionals who try every day to make a difference in kids’ lives.

    And we need to stop attacking each other.

  • PS 8 Parent

    Mr. Phillips dosn’t know what he is doing. He needs help. I can’t believe so many people are in denial and so racist. If your child came on with an F. would you blame it on race. My son is White and his scores went down. We’ve lived here all our lives. How dare you bring race into it. These children are out future. The school needs help. Seth Phillips better admit it and help these children. He accepted the C and vowed to do better. Now accept this F and teach these kids. We failed our students.

  • here since 89

    PS8 Parent: Thank you! God bless you! Speak out!!!
    Please, please, talk to the community. we need to hear you.
    we need to hear your voice so much!

  • PS 8 Parent

    The truth will come out when these students are really compared to other students when they get to middle school, high school and college if they make it. All of our students will suffer. If the school is failing, it’s not just the minority students. Nothing to cry about. Let’s compare the school to 29, 58, 6, 261. what’s the difference. Children are children. If it improved four years ago and three years ago when it was only minority children. Then why would the scores drop when there are white children? How stupid to blame it on race. How ignorant. If the race had anything to do with it; would the scores go up? What has changed. There was an Instructional Specialist in the school. Maybe that was the difference. She wrote the grants, worked with the teachers, and help to turn the school around. Could it be that Mr. Phillips didn’t do it alone. Come on smart people. It’s a no brainer!

  • Parent

    P.S. 8 Parent #2
    I take responsibility for my child’s successes and failures. I do test prep at home( a necessay evil) and monitor her learning and progress. If her scores go down, I have no one to blame but myself. That’s what it means to be a parent, especially in this system. The school’s fine. We support Mr. Phillips

  • here since 89

    PS8 Parent: vous l’avez dit!
    Don’t be intimidted by the phillips zombies. you and your child are as good as they are. The principal has to go! We need a serious person heading PS 8.
    Maybe I will go on Monday night after all.

  • PS 8 Parent

    We are taking responsibility when we accept that things are not right. It’s not about test scores, it’s about education. The quality of education at PS 8 has gone down. I’m not saying get rid of Mr. Phillips. I’m saying he needs help. He had it before and he needs it now. Let’s not stick our heads in the sand. I help my child too, but I want my child to get a great education at school too. If we truly support Mr. Phillips we will recognize that he needs help and make sure he gets it; not let the school sink and drown our kids with it. Let’s not be in denial; let’s be proactive and help the guy. The school hasn’t moved in two years. Let’s be real. I wll be at that meeting and I’m hoping that he admits that he needs help. My child is in this school. I care about my child and the other children. This school is for all of the children.

  • No One Of Consequence

    89, you never answered the question of whether you have kids at PS8.
    esplanader, what about you?

    For the record, I have children but they are both under school age and I intend for them to attend PS 8 in the future.

    According to parent in eduation:
    “The letter grade is relative to 20 other comparable schools — not the school system entirely.”

    It sounds to me like the ol’ “grading on a curve” which, regardless of score, would mean that some would get A’s and some F’s and the rest somewhere in between.
    If all of your other comparables scored, for example, 66, yet your school scored a 67, you’d come out with an A.
    Similarily, if all of your other comparables scored 99, yet you scored a 98, you’d get the F.

    So PinE’s questions are very valid.
    Why is PS 8 getting an F in comparison to its comparables?
    Who are the comparable schools?
    Are they really comparable?
    If they are, why is PS 8 doing so much worse?

    Add to that, what are the actual scores?
    For the comparables and city-wide.

    I think that like most of you, I don’t really understand how the scoring was divinated, and I suppose that matters, too. But I think first analyze the “logic” of the grading.

    In the end, a letter grade is just that. This ain’t France, y’all.
    Wanna know how many F’s I got in life? Probably about as many as are in my entire post. (well, maybe not that many)
    Did it affect my “station in life.” I don’t think so. Maybe. I still somehow managed to live here with the rest of you over-achievers (kidding!).
    Funny how such comments are followed up by accusations of bigotry and racism.

    I’m most inclined to consider reports from those who actually have kids at PS8. So, please mention if you do.

    PS8 Parent, I agree, that if he does need help, he should admit it and seek it. It’s not a failing to do so.

  • PS 8 Parent

    I know that the school has stopped progressing. The urgency is gone. Because the building is full, Mr Phillips thought he could relax and let things go. Ask the teachers if they receive professional development. We just asked why the children weren’t getting homework. The school hasn’t moved in two years. He closed down the science lab instead of the art studio although we begged. Perhaps he will listen now. He said the C woke him up. What will this F do?

  • PS 8 Parent

    It’s not too late the school can be helped. We have to accept the F. It only means that the school hasn’t moved. I know for a fact many students grades have dropped. We should be in this for all of the students. PS 8 is one of the few schools where the grades dropped.. He said we failed. We didn’t really believe him.

  • PS 8 Parent

    Seth didn’t turn the school around by himself. That’s why he can’t keep it up. Do your homework friends. Then you will know why it’s not working. Why wait until it completely fails again. Back in the day it was also considered a goood school; then it started to fall apart. It will happen again if we don’t take stock and help the school. Seth did not turn the school around by himself. He is the principal. I just read a lot of old articles and insideschools. Google the school and read the history. He is about to sink this ship. We can’t be mad at him, he’s just not capable of doing it. He needs lots of help!!! Please help him!!. We don’t have an AP that knows curriculum. Seth doesn’t know instruction. The place looks pretty, which he didn’t do either, the teachers are nice, but they get no professional development (no one there to help with this) He is truly overwhelmed. That’s why he had the heart attack. He wants to do well, but he can’t. If the DOE gave him a F, they should give him the support he needs to turn it back around. That’s what we should be talking about; getting help for this poor guy.

  • Stan

    Maybe this has something to do with the slide:

  • Parent

    I don’t understand why no one is questioning school governance or how even the most slightly experienced and tentured teachers have become through their most recent contract unaffordable to most schools and undesirable by the mayor who is looking to save on future pensions. This system is not a meritocracy. Experience has beem maligned to save on the bottom line. If you look at schools who have gotten A’s especially schools with similar demographics who will see that the average length of service is 10 years or more. Yes the school needs help but the sytem is telling principals NOT to hire costly teachers especially schools without Title 1 funding. This is the problem.

  • anon

    A few years ago the school got a C and were proud for having come so far. Did the criteria change from then to now? Questioning the criteria when the results are not in your favor seems a bit off! Most of the parents commenting here have children that are achieving or surpassing the expectations laid out by the DOE. Where are the parents who’s children aren’t doing so well?

  • PS 8 Parent

    The criteria hasn’t changed the school just stopped growing. The new families that bought into the school a few years ago are now in the 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades. Those are the students that were tested. There were children that received 4’s two years ago and then last year they got 3’s. These are bright students. Some of the 4’s went down to lower 4’s and or 3’s. As the years go on this will continue to happen if things don’t change. The students that were below only progressed a little. So people who think that certain children caused the F; that’s not true. First of all the students didn’t fail; the school failed to help them. But the school received an F because lots of 4’s became 3’s and 3’s became 2’s. The entire city improved and this school didn’t. The school is more diverse than it has been in years, so why would it go down. Besides all of these children have brains, they are simply not being taught. That is because of the leadership.

  • PS 8 Parent

    Why would people complain because the DOE wants to recognize failure before it gets too bad. Why wait until it’s too late. The F is a reflection on the DOE. This school was on it’s way up 2 years ago. What happened? Most people on this blog seem to be highly intelligent. I don’t know if you would accept an “ok” education for your child. There are many people with all kinds of degrees and can’t get a job these days. The world is very competitive. If the school doesn’t measure to other schools, then something is wrong. A C is good when you were once failing, but when you start going backwards that’s a problem. It’s like cancer; cure it. Don’t let it grow and spread.