P.S. 166 Henry Gradstein

An Insideschools pick
33-09 35 AVENUE
QUEENS NY 11106 Map
Phone: (718) 786-6703
Website: Click here
Admissions: Neighborhood school
Principal: Jessica Geller
Neighborhood: Astoria
District: 30
Grade range: PK-5
Parent Coordinator: MARY BLAND
Number of full-day PK seats: 36
Extended PK hours offered: Contact program about extended hours.
Zoned
Gifted and Talented
Dual Language
Full Day
School-based pre-k

What's special:

Strong administration and established, successful dual language program

The downside:

Little outdoor play time, and a dingy courtyard for an outside play area

InsideSchools Review

Our review:

PS 166, a large, stable and thriving school on the border of Astoria and Long Island City in Queens, offers a highly regarded Spanish/English dual-language program and a district-wide gifted and talented program—in addition to strong general education classes in each grade. Although the school is large and has several different programs in operation, there is a strong sense of community. Teachers cheerfully greet one another in the hall, and many know and connect with students beyond those in their classes. Every morning the entire school stops what they're doing for a lively, two-minute dance or jumping-jack "fitness break."

A nice mix of Asian, Hispanic, White and Black students reflects the neighborhood's demographics. It is a rich soup where students and their families speak many different languages at home, and children whose parents are Bengali mix easily with children from Central and South America. Generally, the individual classes reflect the school's overall ethnic make-up, although the gifted classes, which admit students from throughout the district, have more White and Asian students and fewer Hispanics than the school as a whole.

The two full-time pre-k classrooms are bright with play kitchens, reading nooks, blocks and other stations. The students work on art projects together, designed to encourage communication and collaboration. Although some pre-k students continue into kindergarten at PS 166, the admission process is separate and they are not guaranteed a spot.

The school relies on scripted reading and math programs (ReadyGen and GoMath, supplemented with manipulatives), but most classrooms we observed had a vibrant dynamic. For instance, kindergartners eagerly worked on poetry notebooks, sharing comments with one another. In an integrated co-teaching class, 5th-graders working on math sheets appeared alert and interested as teachers moved among them checking-in and discussing concepts. In a lively dual-language class, a Spanish-speaking student led her classmates through an active lesson that included dancing. The students were delighted and attentive.

The school is large—almost 1,200 students—and classes can be big. Hallways bustle as pupils move in loose lines from their classrooms to gym, music or other specials. The atmosphere, though, feels active and friendly rather than crowded and hurried. For instance, a 2nd-grade teacher sang "Michael Row Your Boat Ashore" brightly, keeping her students' focus as they walked back to the classroom; students from other classes streamed past happily. The full-size gym was busy but organized as two classes divided the space for different activities.

Jessica Geller has been principal since 2011 and was previously at the school for nine years as an assistant principal and teacher. She is optimistic and upbeat about the school. There is little turnover in staff—and Geller is proud that the teachers who come to PS 166 tend to make a career there.

PS 166's dual language program is in its 10th year, making it one of the most established in the city. It is a point of pride for the administration. There are two dual language classes on each grade, and the administration hopes to add a third kindergarten class in 2016. The students alternate classrooms, languages (Spanish/English), and teachers each day. Their lessons are consecutive but taught in Spanish one day, English the next. The program's supervisor said that most students who begin the program stick with it throughout their years in elementary school. Additionally, a nearby middle school has recently added a Spanish/English dual language program so PS 166's students will be able to continue their dual language education.

The PTA is very active and pays for several enrichment programs such as theater, 3rd-grade chess and ballroom dancing. The PTA also sponsors an indoor recess program for cold or rainy days. There are two on-site after-school programs.

SPECIAL EDUCATION: There are three small, self-contained classrooms for students with significant needs covering grades k–5. Except for 4th grade, each grade has an ICT class with two teachers and a mix of special education and general education students.

ADMISSIONS: Neighborhood school. Admissions for the district G&T program is based on the citywide assessment process. Call the school for information about admissions to the dual language program. (Elizabeth Daniel, January 2016)

InsideStats

Click tabs above to see school stats

At a glance

Shared campus? No

This school is in its own building.

Number of Students 1180

Average Daily Attendance 95%

Students at this school

Asian

  
29%

Black

  
5%

Hispanic

  
45%

White

  
20%

Free Lunch

  
71%

Special ed

  
9%

English Language Learners

  
17%

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?

89% 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?

89% 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

59% 41% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

58% 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?

39% 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:

5% 8% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

5% 2% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

10% 19% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

5% 9% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

0% 17% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

0% 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?

95% 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:

7% 6% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

32% 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

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