P.S. 251 Queens

An Insideschools pick
144-51 ARTHUR STREET
QUEENS NY 11413 Map
Phone: (718) 276-2745
Website: Click here
Admissions: District 29 lottery
Principal: Relda Barry Grant
Neighborhood: Springfield Gardens
District: 29
Grade range: PK-4
Parent Coordinator: TWANNA HUTCHINSON
Number of full-day PK seats: 36
Extended PK hours offered: Yes
Unzoned
Full Day
School-based pre-k
Extended Day

What's special:

Steady leadership, solid test scores

The downside:

No gymnasium & tiny cafeteria in what used to be the science room

InsideSchools Review

Our review:

Tucked behind two middle schools in a residential cul-de-sac, PS 251 has long been a stable school with positive leadership and solid academics. Established in 1972 as an early-childhood magnet school, it served grades k–2 until 2004, when 3rd grade was added. In September 2015, the school will begin to reduce the number of classrooms to two per grade and add 4th and 5th grades to become a complete pre-kindergarten through 5th grade school by the 2016-2017 school year.

PS 251 has two pre-kindergarten classrooms. They feature blond wood lofts and are outfitted with puppets and other tools for learning to read, with objects and shapes for learning math and with dramatic play areas. All children visit the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) teacher once a week in a colorful room filled with blocks, science materials and art supplies where they float boats and build with Legos, among other hands-on activities.

The school has taken steps to maintain an orderly atmosphere by adopting a positive behavior management program; children receive small rewards or privileges for good behavior. The system was put in place when teachers indicated on school surveys that they did not have enough help with behavior management. There is a small "achievement group" designed to channel the energy of boys for whom the positive behavior system has not been enough. It's about "doing the right thing, working as a team," said longtime principal Edna Loncke, who is a composed and respected leader.

The instruction at PS 251 has an old-fashioned quality. Teachers are called by their surnames and pay attention to skills like spelling (the school holds a spelling bee), handwriting and phonics. Young children chant the letter of the week in unison and trace the letter in the air in a practice called "skywriting." The principal said top-performing students are eligible for district gifted and talented programs. "We always get children who are selected," she said.

In math classes we saw children practicing skills in workbooks as well as working on activities designed to help them understand math concepts. In one exercise, children cut out circles and lined them up in rows to understand that 4 x 3 is the same as 3 x 4. Some children develop speed with math facts by using a computer program called Reflex Math, which they can access at home or school.

Kindergartners learn to play the piano; 2nd-graders learn to swim at the nearby Roy Wilkins Recreation Center; and 3rd-graders participate in a marine biology excursion aboard a sailing vessel. Other activities include chorus and cooking and a yearly musical. On Saturdays about 70 children read with adult volunteers through a program called Reading Empowers.

Space is at a premium: A medium-sized room is used for assemblies, morning line-up and other school programs. There is a tiny cafeteria and some children must eat lunch quite early to accommodate them all. The school has a makeshift gymnasium so the outdoor yard is used whenever possible for gym class. During the expansion, the school may be able to share common spaces with the middle schools that occupy the adjacent building: Collaborative Arts MS 355, and Community Voices MS 356, which replaced troubled MS 231 in 2013.

After-school services are available for a fee. They include guitar, science, dance, spelling, math, writing, test prep and more.

SPECIAL EDUCATION: The school has two team-taught classes, in which children with special needs learn alongside their general education peers. There is one self-contained class. A special education tutor works with individuals as needed.

ADMISSIONS: Open to District 29 families by lottery. (Lydie Raschka, November 2014)

InsideStats

Click tabs above to see school stats

At a glance

Shared campus? No

This school is in its own building.

Number of Students 325

Average Daily Attendance 95%

Students at this school

Asian

  
2%

Black

  
92%

Hispanic

  
3%

White

  
1%

Free Lunch

  
73%

Special ed

  
19%

English Language Learners

  
0%

Safety & vibe

ARE KIDS
NICE?

How many teachers say bullying is a problem at school?

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many teachers say order and discipline are maintained in the school?

61% 81% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

ARE CLASSES BIG?

Number of students in an average kindergarten class

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Number of students in an average fifth grade class

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

DO TEACHERS LIKE THE SCHOOL?

How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?

56% 80% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many teachers would recommend this school to other parents?

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Attendance

How many students are chronically absent?

12% 23% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Academics

How many teachers say this school offers enough programs, classes and activities to keep students engaged?

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many teachers say this school does a good job teaching social-emotional skills?

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many teachers say this school does a good job teaching organizational and study skills?

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Percent of 3rd, 4th & 5th graders who scored 3 or 4 on the state math exam

39% 41% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Percent of 3rd, 4th & 5th graders who scored 3 or 4 on the state ela exam

52% 40% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Percent of 4th graders who scored 3 or 4 on the state science exam

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Parents

Are parents involved?

How many parents responded to the school survey?

52% 64% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many parents say they attended at least one pta meeting in the last school year?

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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 last school year?

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Do parents like the school?

How many parents would recommend this school to other parents?

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Special ed & ELL

How well does this school serve students with disabilities?

Percent of self-contained students who scored 3 or 4 on the state math exam:

NA 8% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Percent of self-contained students who scored 3 or 4 on the state ELA exam:

NA 2% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Percent of ICT students who scored 3 or 4 on the state math exam:

NA 19% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Percent of ICT students who scored 3 or 4 on the state ELA exam:

NA 9% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Percent of SETSS students who scored 3 or 4 on the state math exam:

NA 17% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Percent of SETSS students who scored 3 or 4 on the state ELA exam:

NA 9% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many parents say students with disabilities are included in all activities?

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many teachers say students with special needs are educated in the least restrictive environment appropriate?

88% 93% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many parents of students with ieps say this school offers a wide enough variety of services and activities for their children’s needs?

80% 86% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How well does this school serve English language learners?

Percent of ell students who scored 3 or 4 on the state ELA exam:

0% 6% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Percent of former ell students who scored 3 or 4 on the state ELA exam:

NA 32% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many teachers say this school ensures that ells receive the same curriculum as non-ells with appropriate suppports?

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Comments

Please post comments

  • Give specific examples. Tell us why this school rocks (or doesn't)
  • No profanity. No racial or ethnic slurs. No personal attacks
  • Criticism is fine but don't be nasty.
  • Flag inappropriate comments. (Hover your cursor over comments to see flag)