Proposed Phase-out and Replacement Scenario for M.S. 571 The Bergen Upper School

For the Revised Proposed Re-siting and Co-location of Brooklyn East Collegiate Charter School (84K780) with P.S. 9 Teunis G. Bergen (13K009) and M.S. 571 in School Building K009, click here.


■  Based on an extensive review of data and community feedback, the New York City Department of Education (DOE) has determined that M.S. 571 is unable to turnaround and cannot provide a high-quality education to its students. The DOE is proposing that M.S. 571 be phased out.

■  Proposing to phase out and replace a school is the most difficult decision we make. We are proposing this action because we think it’s the right thing for current and future students in this community.

■  The phase out process would be gradual and happen over the next several years. The school would complete phasing out in June 2013.

■  Students are not zoned to this school. All fifth graders in the district would continue to participate in the Middle School Choice process and enroll in sixth grade at a middle school.

■  We hope you share our view that we can—and must—do better for students. The DOE will continue to work closely with M.S. 571 staff and families to ensure that all students receive the support they need to succeed in school.

Educational Impact Statements--Amended January 21, 2011

Read the full description of the amended phase-out proposal here.

Read the full description of the amended replacement co-location proposal here.

Sharing Your Concerns and Questions

The Department of Education is seeking your feedback on the proposal. We will record your comments and include them in our analysis of public feedback, which is presented to the Panel for Educational Policy prior to its vote on the proposal. Please submit any comments you have to:


Joint Public Hearing

Date: January 24, 2011
6:00 p.m.
M.S. 571, 80 Underhill Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11238
Archive: Read a transcript of the hearing

Panel for Educational Policy Vote on the Proposal

Date: February 3, 2011
Time: 6:00 p.m.
Location: Brooklyn Technical High School, 29 Fort Greene Place, Brooklyn, NY 11217

For more information, see the PEP website .


■  M.S. 571 has struggled for years. In 2010, only 8% were on grade level in English Language Arts (ELA), and only 14% of students were on grade level in math —making M.S. 571 one of the very lowest-performing middle schools in the entire City.

■  M.S. 571 earned an overall D grade last year on its Progress Report, with F grades in the Student Performance, Student Progress, and School Environment sub-sections of the Report.

■  M.S. 571 staff and families have worked hard to improve the school. The DOE also provided considerable support to M.S. 571, including extensive training for school leadership and teachers, helping M.S. 571 build strong partnerships with community groups, and working with the school’s administration to use grant funds most effectively. Unfortunately, these efforts have not yet turned the school around.

■  During conversations with the M.S. 571 community, we heard concerns about inconsistent school policies, student safety, and a low attendance. The community did have positive feedback about the school’s leadership and staff and new efforts to help struggling students. However, we do not believe these positive components are enough to move the school in the right direction.

What would the proposal mean for current students?

If this proposal is approved, M.S. 571 would be phased out gradually over the next several years and would no longer admit new sixth grade students after the end of this school year. However, current sixth and seventh students would stay at M.S. 571 as it phases out.

Below are enrollment plans for current M.S. 571 students, if the school is phased out.

■  Current sixth, seventh, and eighth grade students would complete middle school at M.S. 571.

Next school year, M.S. 571 would serve students in grades seven and eight. Then, during the following school year, M.S. 571 would only serve students in grade eight. Phase out would be complete in June 2013.


M.S. 571 Has Struggled for Years

■  The overwhelming majority of M.S. 571 students remain below grade level in English Language Arts and math.

■  In 2009-2010, only 8% of students were performing on grade level in English—putting M.S. 571 in the bottom 2% of all middle schools in New York City in English. It is also the lowest-performing middle school in English in District 13. In 2008-2009 performance in English was also in the bottom 2% of middle schools in New York City.  

■  In 2009-2010, only 14% of students were performing on grade level in math—putting M.S. 571 in the bottom 4% of all middle schools in New York City in math. In 2008-2009 performance in math was in the bottom 10% of middle schools in New York City.

■  With so few students performing at grade level, M.S. 571 students must make substantial progress to get back on track. Unfortunately, M.S. 571 ranks in the bottom 5% of middle schools citywide in terms of learning growth in English and the bottom 7% of middle schools citywide in terms of learning growth in math. If such poor performance continues, M.S. 571 students will fall even further behind their peers in other schools.

■  M.S. 571 earned an overall D grade last year on its Progress Report, with F grades in the Student Performance, Student Progress, and School Environment sub-sections. This represents a decline from an overall B grade on the school’s previous two Progress Reports, with D grades for School Environment during both of those years.

■  The school’s attendance rate continues to be extremely low. Last year, the attendance rate was 83%, well below the citywide average of 92% for middle schools. In fact, this attendance rate is among the very lowest for any middle school in New York City and is the lowest attendance rate for any middle school in District 13.

■  Safety issues have been a concern at the school. On the 2009-2010 New York City School Survey, nearly one in three students—28%—reported feeling unsafe in the hallways, bathrooms, and locker rooms at M.S. 571. Parents also expressed concerns about their children’s safety, with 17% reporting that they felt their children were unsafe at school. Most teachers—64%—reported that discipline and order are not maintained at M.S. 571.

Demand for the School is Low, Suggesting that Families Are Seeking Better Options

■  M.S. 571 is located in District 13, which has Middle School Choice. During the Middle School Choice process, students are able to rank their middle school preferences across all schools in the District. Among District 13 students applying to start middle school in September 2010, only 25% of applicants ranked M.S. 571 as one of their top-three choices.

Despite Our Best Efforts, Performance at M.S. 571 Remains Low

We recognize that M.S. 571 staff members have worked hard to improved the school, but the school has not yet turned around. To help the school’s efforts to improve performance the DOE has provided numerous supports to M.S. 571, including:

Leadership Support:

■  Leadership mentoring, training, and coaching for the principal on recruiting and retaining talented staff, setting school wide goals, and developing systems to help implement best teaching practices.

■  Working with the principal to develop a detailed plan that aligned with M.S. 571’s Quality Review, outlined its strengths and areas for improvement, established a timeline, and assigned action items to individuals.

■  Connecting administrators with other schools to learn effective practices that could be replicated at M.S. 571.

Instructional Support:

■  Supporting the principal in creating individual teacher goals, developing a plan-of-action for each teacher, and creating an individualized training plans.

■  Helping the principal analyze data to find patterns and trends in the performance of various sub-groups of students, particularly English language learners and students with disabilities.

■  Working with the principal, assistant principal, literacy and math coaches, and a data specialist to develop a data system to project and monitor student progress.

■  Offering professional development to teachers in curriculum planning, student engagement, project-based learning, and designing assessments.

Working with the school to establish teacher teams that focus on the needs of English language learners, students with disabilities, and students performing below grade level.

Arranging for on-site content experts to coach teachers in English, math, social studies and science.

Working with M.S. 571 to ensure students with disabilities and English language learners receive proper services.

Operational Support:

■  Guidance on implementing $400,000 in grant funding; the school received $50,000 to have lockers installed in classrooms and a $350,000 grant to use with P.S. 9 to create a library.

One-on-one support to the principal and staff on topics including budgeting, human resources, recruiting and retaining talented teachers, building management, and operational compliance issues.

Guidance on managing relationships with the other schools on campus to allow for efficient and coordinated use of facilities and shared spaces.

Student Support:

■  Implementing the Mayor's Truancy Program, through which M.S. 571 received three mentors to help bolster student attendance and established a school attendance team that meets semi-weekly to analyze data and develop long-term plans to improve attendance.

Helping M.S. 571 secure partnerships with Brooklyn Community Services, which provides after-school and academic enrichment programs, and Urban Advantage, which exposes students to science through cultural institutions.

We Know That We Can Do Better

M.S. 571serves a high-need population: 11% of students require special education services and 9% are English language learners. But other schools serving similar students have achieved far better results:

■  At the School of Integrated Learning, a Brooklyn school that is in M.S. 571’s peer group, 20% of students require special education services and 6% of students are English language learners. At that school, 25% are on grade level in English and 43% of students are on grade level in math. The School of Integrated Learning is in the top 10% of schools citywide in terms of learning growth in English and the top 13% of schools citywide in terms of learning growth in math.

■  At Bronx Latin, also in M.S. 571’s peer group, 15% of students require special education services and 13% of students are English language learners. At that school, 27% of students are on grade level in English and 76% are on grade level in math.

■  While all students are still not where we’d like them to be, these schools are getting far better results while serving a similar mix of students to M.S. 571.

Community Feedback

On October 27, 2010, District 13 Superintendent James Machen held a School Leadership Team meeting and parent meeting at the school to discuss what is working at M.S. 571, what isn’t working, and how to work together to better serve students. Approximately 25 parents attended. While they had positive comments about strong communication with the school and the school’s leadership and staff, they had concerns about a number of issues. Parents said:

■  School policies are inconsistent, leading many parents to be confused about homework and uniform requirements.

■  There are serious concerns about student safety.

■  There is a lack of after-school activities, homework help, and enrichment programs.

Parental involvement is low and must be improved.

The School Leadership Team expressed some similar concerns and cited problems with low attendance and difficulties in bringing low-achieving students up to grade level. They also had positive feedback about new efforts, which include joining a new network and implementing new programs to help struggling students. However, these positive components are not enough to move M.S. 571 in the right direction.

Supporting Current and Future Students

We Remain Focused on Helping M.S. 571 Students to Succeed

During the proposed phase out, the DOE will build on our past efforts to help the school by:

■  Providing teacher training around issues including curriculum planning, improving teaching practices, and tailoring instruction to individual student needs.

■  Fostering opportunities for teachers and administrators to connect with colleagues in other more successful schools, allowing them to learn from one another, improve teaching, and better support students.

■  Facilitating partnerships with community-based organizations to support youth development initiatives at the school.

What You Can Expect

Within the next two weeks, you will receive a letter notifying you that the formal proposal to phase out M.S.571 has been published and that a joint public hearing to be held at the school has been scheduled. The joint public hearing will be held in January 2011 by the DOE, District 13 Community Education Council and the M.S. 571 School Leadership Team, among others. During this hearing, community members, including parents and students, will be able to share their thoughts on the phase out and replacement proposals. Replacement plans will be published in a separate proposal.

The proposals to phase out and replace M.S. 571 will be voted on by the Panel for Educational Policy (PEP), which is composed of members appointed by Mayor Bloomberg and the five Borough Presidents, during a public meeting scheduled for the first week of February 2011. During this meeting, the public will have another opportunity to comment on the proposals. If the PEP approves the proposals, M.S. 571 will not accept new students next school year and replacement schools will begin growing in the building starting next September.