P.S. 172 Beacon School of Excellence

Grades Pre-K, K-5
Staff Pick Staff Pick for Special Ed
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Location

825 4 Avenue
Brooklyn NY 11232
Sunset Park (District 15)
Trains: R to 25th St; D, N to 36th St - 4 Ave
Buses: B35, B37, B63, B70

Contact

Phone
718-965-4200
Principal
Giacomo Spatola
Parent Coordinator
Annette Hendrickson

Zone for the 2017-2018 school year. Call school to confirm.

What’s Special

Strong math, science and special education

The Downside

No gym, main library or art

Our Review

PS 172 has long won recognition for its high test scoresa remarkable achievement considering that most of its children are poor enough to qualify for free lunch and many speak another language at home. Its math and science programs are particularly strong. The school also has a good record of integrating special needs children in general education classes.

What are the secrets to its success? The school has strong, stable leadership and gives teachers lots of time to plan their lessons together. Rather than relying on textbooks, the staff has put together its own curriculum with a rich mix of carefully-thought-out units on topics such as poetry, the solar system, multiplication or the history of Mexico. There is consistency from class to class and a logical progression from grade to grade. Every month the curriculum is revised based on the needs of the students. Each summer, the entire staff revises the curriculum after discussing what worked best and what needs improvement.

In math, the staff has mastered one of the trickiest tasks of teaching: how to challenge strong students while giving weaker students the help they need to be successful. We sat in on a 5th-grade math class in which the teacher managed to adapt the same complex problem for different children: If two teachers, shopping together, each buy a pair of shoes at a "buy-one, get-one-for-half-price" sale, what's the fairest way to divide the cost?

Some children worked on the problem independently or in pairs, others got little hints from the teacher, and still others got step-by-step instructions from the second teacher in the class, who is trained in special education. At the end of the class, all children sat on a rug and discussed how they arrived at the answer.

Science is an integral part of the curriculum. Children might make their own toothpaste in a simple chemistry experiment, connect electrical circuits, or dissect owl pellets. First-graders learn about the human body, not just the skeletal system and the digestive system, but even the parts of the brain. These lessons build their vocabularywhich helps them become better readers.

Jack Spatola, who has been principal since the mid-1980s, and Assistant Principal Erika Gundersen assigned the teachers so that their strengths complement one another. "There is at least one teacher in every grade who really loves math," said Spatola. "We try to have some in each grade who have a love of science, and a love of history." A number of teachers majored in math in collegeunusual among elementary school teachers.

Starting in November, teachers identify children in grades 3-5 who are struggling and invite them to attend special classes from 9 am to noon each Saturday. Parents are kept abreast of the situation and offered concrete suggestions of what they can do to help.

Despite this intense focus on academics, PS 172 has a warm, calm atmosphere. On one of our visits, parents dropped by to talkin English and Spanishto Spatola.

Even the kindergarten classes focus on academics, with no designated area for blocks or dramatic play. The school has no main library or real gym; one cafeteria doubles as a gym, a second as a dance studio. The auditorium has been partly sectioned off to create storage cubicles for resource teachers.

SPECIAL EDUCATION: Most of the teachers are certified both in special education and in general education. Special-needs students are integrated into general education classes. Speech therapy and most other assistance take place in the classroom. This also puts extra adults in the classroom to help all students. The school offers team-teaching in every grade. It has no self-contained classes.

ADMISSIONS: The school occasionally admits out-of-zone students but may not know if it has space until September. Seats are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis with an eye toward maintaining diversity and not overburdening special ed. services. (Clara Hemphill, October 2013; updated, interview and web reports, August 2016)

About the students

Enrollment
594
Pre-K seats
40
Asian
7.1%
Black
3.7%
Hispanic
75.8%
White
12.3%
Other
1.2%
Free or reduced priced lunch
84%
Students with disabilities
27%
English language learners
26%

About the school

Shared campus?
No
This school is in its own building.
How crowded? (Full is 100%)
153%
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

Attendance

Average daily attendance
96%
94% Citywide Average
How many students are chronically absent?
9%
21% Citywide Average

Is this school safe?

How many teachers say order and discipline are maintained at this school?
100%
81% Citywide Average
How many teachers say their students are safe outside around this school?
98%
85% Citywide Average

About the leadership

Years of principal experience at this school
31.8
6.6 Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?
98%
80% Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal has a clear vision for this school?
98%
87% Citywide Average
How many teachers trust the principal?
94%
79% Citywide Average

About the teachers

How many teachers have 3 or more years of experience teaching?
69%
78% Citywide Average
Teacher attendance
96%
96% Citywide Average
How many teachers say they would recommend this school to other families?
98%
83% Citywide Average
How many teachers think the staff collaborate to make this school run effectively?
100%
87% Citywide Average

Do parents like the school?

How many parents responded to the school survey?
100%
64% Citywide Average
How many parents say they are invited to visit classrooms?
97%
85% Citywide Average
How many parents say this school offers enough courses, activities and services to keep their children interested in school?
96%
87% Citywide Average
How many parents say their child's teacher helped their child adjust to Pre-K?
100%
97% Citywide Average
How many parents say this Pre-K program helped them consider which elementary schools would meet their childrens' needs?
96%
91% Citywide Average
How many Pre-K parents say their child's teacher gave helpful ideas for how to support their child's learning?
97%
96% 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?
97%
40% Citywide Average
How many students scored 3-4 on the state ELA exam?
88%
39% Citywide Average

Arts offerings

This school has 1 dedicated space for Visual arts
This school has 0 licensed arts teachers in Dance, Music, Theater or Visual arts
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?
60%
10% Citywide Average
How many former English language learners score 3-4 on the State ELA exam?
59%
22% 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 self-contained students
4.05
2.3 Citywide Average
Average ELA score for self-contained students
3.36
2.2 Citywide Average
Average math score for SETSS students
4.99
2.8 Citywide Average
Average ELA score for SETSS students
3.58
2.2 Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say this school offers enough activities and services for their children's needs?
99%
86% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say this school works to achive the goals of their students' IEPs?
98%
91% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say they are satisfied with the IEP development process at this school?
96%
89% Citywide Average
For more information about our data sources, see About Our Data
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