P.S. 261 Philip Livingston

Grades Pre-K, K-5
Staff Pick
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Location

314 Pacific Street
Brooklyn NY 11201
Downtown Brooklyn (District 15)
Trains: R to Jay St-MetroTech; F, G to Bergen St; B, Q to DeKalb Ave; A, C to Hoyt & Schermerhorn; 4, 5 to Court St - Borough Hall; 2, 3 to Hoyt St - Fulton Mall
Buses: B103, B25, B26, B37, B38, B45, B54, B57, B61, B62, B63, B65, B67

Contact

Phone
718-330-9275
Principal
Jacqueline Allen Joseph
Parent Coordinator
Weston Heather

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

What’s Special

Lives out its social action ideals every day

The Downside

Some concerns about discipline

Our Review

PS 261 has an active parent body that includes lawyers, hairdressers, writers and maintenance workers. This frank-talking community embraces the friction ethnic and economic diversity can sometimes bring, believing that kids coming together from different backgrounds creates a better world.

The school welcomes children of different racial and ethnic groups, and multiracial families often seek it out because no one group dominates.

Unique to the school is a partnership with the Qatar Foundation, providing an explicit welcome to Brooklyn's Arab community, with its hub near the school. The foundation pays for a second science teacher, who weaves Arabic words into science lessons, an art/Arabic language teacher, and a partnership with the Metropolitan Museum of Art that focuses on the collection of Islamic art.

PS 261 encourages students to think critically about social issues. Students made pinwheels to help Syrian children affected by the refugee crisis in a dollar-matching program. Every year they re-enact Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s march on Washington.

The arts have long been a hallmark of PS 261, and there's something for everyone. Kindergartners act out stories such as The Gingerbread Boy, 3rd-graders take on folktales, and 4th-graders study Greek myths in a theater arts class. Third-graders study the guitar with Harlem School of the Arts.

Some concern about discipline and order shows up on school surveys. We saw at least one overly long lesson, during which kids got restless, but most instruction seemed very focused. "We definitely have kids coming from really troubled situations," said a parent. "Some are not easy to deal with in the classroom." A guidance counselor, school psychologist, and social worker meet with struggling kids and the school is adopting Responsive Classroom methods to improve the school climate.

Parents pay for a part-time librarian and substitute teachers. They run a fee-based after-school program and offer scholarships. We saw some parents prepare cardboard Google glasses for a science lesson, while others taught a group of kids in the garden. "It's a culture that celebrates that kind of collective work and volunteerism," said parent Rachel Porter.

PS 261 attracts a large number of children with special needs and has several offerings, including self-contained classes, which take students from outside the zone, and team-taught classes.

The school was on the forefront of the "opt-out-of-testing" movement in 2015, when approximately 60% of students did not sit for state exams. Even so, teachers follow data closely to spot gaps and trends in learning. After a slump in test results during the Common Core Standards rollout in 2013, scores for those children who did take the state exams are now above the citywide average and rising. The PS 261 administration said they hoped it was a reflection of improved instruction due to increased coaching with experts in reading, writing, and math. The school's current approach to math, which includes lessons from Engage NY, is "the toughest math we've ever done," said one, and several girls and boys we spoke to on our visit said math was their favorite subject.

Jackie Allen Joseph, formerly assistant principal, replaced long-time principal Zipporiah Mills in 2016. Joseph's two children graduated from PS 261, according to a biography on the school website. She has taught grades K-5, worked as a literacy coach and has an MS in Early Childhood from Bank Street College.

SPECIAL EDUCATION: PS 261 attracts a large number of children with special needs and has several offerings, including self-contained classes, which take students from outside the zone, and ICT team-teaching classes.

ADMISSIONS: PS 261 has a small zone and often has space for students from outside the zone, amounting to roughly one-eighth of the total student body. Pre-k typically fills with zoned students and siblings. There is rarely room for new students in the upper grades. (Lydie Raschka, November 2015; updated August 2016)

About the students

Enrollment
772
Pre-K seats
36
Asian
6.9%
Black
26.3%
Hispanic
21.0%
White
40.7%
Other
5.2%
Free or reduced priced lunch
40%
Students with disabilities
19%
English language learners
4%

About the school

Shared campus?
No
This school is in its own building.
How crowded? (Full is 100%)
115%
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

Attendance

Average daily attendance
94%
94% Citywide Average
How many students are chronically absent?
17%
21% Citywide Average

Is this school safe?

How many teachers say order and discipline are maintained at this school?
59%
81% Citywide Average
How many teachers say their students are safe outside around this school?
96%
85% Citywide Average

About the leadership

Years of principal experience at this school
10.8
6.6 Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?
73%
80% Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal has a clear vision for this school?
90%
87% Citywide Average
How many teachers trust the principal?
78%
79% Citywide Average

About the teachers

How many teachers have 3 or more years of experience teaching?
90%
78% Citywide Average
Teacher attendance
96%
96% Citywide Average
How many teachers say they would recommend this school to other families?
94%
83% Citywide Average
How many teachers think the staff collaborate to make this school run effectively?
90%
87% Citywide Average

Do parents like the school?

How many parents responded to the school survey?
69%
64% Citywide Average
How many parents say they are invited to visit classrooms?
84%
85% Citywide Average
How many parents say this school offers enough courses, activities and services to keep their children interested in school?
90%
87% Citywide Average
How many parents say their child's teacher helped their child adjust to Pre-K?
97%
97% Citywide Average
How many parents say this Pre-K program helped them consider which elementary schools would meet their childrens' needs?
75%
91% Citywide Average
How many Pre-K parents say their child's teacher gave helpful ideas for how to support their child's learning?
90%
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?
57%
40% Citywide Average
How many students scored 3-4 on the state ELA exam?
53%
39% Citywide Average

Arts offerings

This school has 4 dedicated spaces for Music, Visual arts, and an Auditorium
This school has 3 licensed arts teachers in Music and Theater
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the 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
2.2
2.3 Citywide Average
Average ELA score for self-contained students
2.37
2.2 Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say this school offers enough activities and services for their children's needs?
82%
86% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say this school works to achive the goals of their students' IEPs?
82%
91% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say they are satisfied with the IEP development process at this school?
80%
89% Citywide Average
For more information about our data sources, see About Our Data
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