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August Martin HS should close: DOE

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A report commissioned by the state Department of Education has recommended closing August Martin High School in Jamaica, citing pervasive lateness among students, ineffective teaching techniques and a “low incidence of higher order thinking activities,” among other reasons.

As far as curriculum, the report said there were few electives at the school for high-performing students, science classes did not include 1,200 mandated minutes for labs and “resources were limited to textbooks, dictionaries and some Smartboards.

“Mathematics classes did not have adequate access to calculators,” the report found of the school, at 156-10 Baisley Blvd. in Jamaica.

Classrooms at August Martin were observed by the report’s authors ´╗┐who concluded that there was “little evidence of varied and effective instructional practices.”

Observations also revealed “a low incidence of higher order thinking activities, effective group instruction and quality student engagement.

“Additionally, ineffective lesson pacing resulted in a serious loss of instructional time,” the report found.

Observers also found that most classes “were involved in copying notes, looking up definitions and other low-level thinking activities.”

Homework given to students was also found to be lackluster, with the report saying there was “little evidence of consistent, well-developed homework strategies that stimulated student interest and addressed assessment requirements.”

Science classes were also determined to be below par at the school, the report found.

“Science instruction showed neither evidence of ongoing investigations nor the use of the scientific method,” it said.

The report also came down hard on the school’s principal, Anthony Cromer.

“There was little evidence that the school leader promotes high expectations of students as evidenced by document reviews, student and teacher interviews and classroom observations,” the report found. “The principal does not have high expectations for teacher performance, allowing uncertified teachers on staff in critical core areas.”

The report also found that “poor student behavior was accepted and expected as evidenced by interviews of staff, teachers and administration.”

The report recommended that the school be phased out or closed.

While the report was harsh on August Martin, it did say the school had several assistant principals “who demonstrate commitment and leadership potential.”

It also lauded the school’s college office and advisory committee, saying the committee “supports the [school] programs through a variety of measures.”

Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at hkoplowitz@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.

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