P.S. 46 Alley Pond
An Insideschools pick
An Insideschools pick for Special Education
QUEENS NY 11364 Map
P.S. 46 Alley Pond
High test scores, a well-regarded special education program and a deep commitment to inclusion are the hallmarks of PS 46. The school teems with activity; diverse, focused classes and a wide range of special classes have also helped the Alley Pond School become one of the most sought-after elementary programs in its zone and other parts of eastern Queens.
Principal Marsha Goldberg doesn't like turning students away—particularly students with disabilities who may not be getting the services they need in their current school. "It's flattering" that so many parents want their special needs students at Alley Pond, Goldberg says, "but it's sad too."
The school's popularity has had a price. Class size has increased to as many as 32 students in the 5th-grade, and the art room is gone. For the first time in 2012 the school had four kindergartens, indicating that the crowding is unlikely to abate anytime soon.
Teachers find ways to challenge strong students and to give struggling students the help they need. Students are grouped within their classrooms but the grouping is flexible, changing from day to day and subject to subject. Although students get high scores on standardized tests, Goldberg is not a big fan of test preparation. Instead, she says, PS 46 stresses test sophistication, familiarizing children with test taking and providing them with strategies that may help them on test day.
The classes we visited appeared fluid and well taught. Students were involved and interested in whole-class discussions, small groups or working alone at their desks. In a 5th-grade class, students paired off to help each other with a math problem. "How do you estimate this?" one boy, seemingly confused, asked his partner. Sometimes a math "cluster" teacher works alongside the classroom teacher to help kids solve math problems. Children learn math in a variety of ways.
As with math, a science cluster teacher works with kids and teachers in their regular classrooms once a week and classroom teachers continue to build on lessons throughout the week. Planting and recycling is a theme across the grades but there are other science units as well, including bugs, the human body and electricity, following the plan of lessons outlined by New York State. Although the school has no gifted program, a small group of high-achievers, called "Project beyond," meet for extra projects like weather forecasting or creating a newscast.
Goldberg and Assistant Principal Stamo Karalazarides rattle off a list of special offerings at PS 46: a tech lab, art, math enrichment, two choruses, percussion music for 1st-graders, ballroom dancing for 5th-graders, a basketball team, a cheerleading squad, student council and more.
"We want school to be fun and engaging and create memories that last a lifetime," Karalazarides says. Students form strong bonds with the school, coming back to discuss high school and even college choices with their old teachers. Parent Coordinator Donna Kodjapashis told us that her son, now in college, comes back to PS 46 to volunteer. Most students go on to MS 74 or other District 26 middle schools.
School faculty and staff offer an after school program until 5 pm (4:20 pm Fridays). Children may sign up for academic help or enrichment as well as for sports and arts activities. Cost depends on the specific program selected.
Special education: A pioneer in inclusion, PS 46 has a team-teaching class for every grade. It also offers two self-contained classes for students with moderately severe handicaps and two classes for children with intellectual disabilities. It launched a Horizon program for autistic students too high functioning for District 75 programs but unable to qualify for the NEST program for higher functioning students on the spectrum. Goldberg previously served as the District 26 supervisor for special education and believes children with disabilities should mix with other students as much as possible. The school has a substantial special ed staff including occupational and speech therapists and an adaptive physical education teacher.
Admissions: PS 46 is a zoned school, but principal Goldberg said that there has been some room for out-of-zone students each year as well as those looking for barrier-free education. Students who live outside the zone have to apply through the Queens Office of Student Enrollment. Horizon and HUGS students are evaluated and assigned through the Committee on Special Education. (Gail Robinson, December 2012; updated, phone interview, Lydie Raschka, June 2014)
At a glance
Number of Students 578
Average Daily Attendance 96%
Safety & vibe
How many teachers say bullying is a problem at school?7% 15% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
How many teachers say order and discipline are maintained in the school?100% 83% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
ARE CLASSES BIG?
Number of students in an average kindergarten class19 23 CITYWIDE AVERAGE
Number of students in an average fifth grade class29 26 CITYWIDE AVERAGE
DO TEACHERS LIKE THE SCHOOL?
How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?97% 79% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
How many teachers would recommend this school to other parents?98% 84% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
How many students are chronically absent?9% 22% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
Percent of 3rd, 4th & 5th graders who scored 3 or 4 on the 2013 math exam
Percent of 3rd, 4th & 5th graders who scored 3 or 4 on the 2013 ela exam
Percent of 4th graders who scored 3 or 4 on the 2013 science exam
Does the school encourage family involvement?
How many parents say they were invited to an event at the school at least 3 times in the 2012-2013 school year?67% 74% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
Do parents like the school?
How many parents would recommend this school to other parents?99% 94% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
Special ed & ELL
How well does this school serve students with disabilities?
As of 2012-2013, this school offers self-contained classes.
Percent of self-contained students who scored 3 or 4 on the 2013 math exam:4% 5% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
Percent of self-contained students who scored 3 or 4 on the 2013 ELA exam:0% 2% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
As of 2012-2013, this school offers team teaching (ict).
Percent of ICT students who scored 3 or 4 on the 2013 math exam:41% 13% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
Percent of ICT students who scored 3 or 4 on the 2013 ELA exam:32% 7% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
As of 2012-2013, this school offers SETSS.
Percent of SETSS students who scored 3 or 4 on the 2013 math exam:30% 11% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
Percent of SETSS students who scored 3 or 4 on the 2013 ELA exam:30% 7% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
How many parents say students with disabilities are included in all activities?
How many teachers say students with special needs are educated in the least restrictive environment appropriate?
How many parents of students with ieps say this school offers a wide enough variety of services and activities for their children’s needs?