P.S. 185 The Early Childhood Discovery and Design Magnet School

20 WEST 112 STREET
MANHATTAN NY 10026 Map
Phone: (212) 534-7490
Website: Click here
Admissions: neighborhood school/magnet
Principal: Jane Murphy
Neighborhood: Harlem
District: 3
Grade range: PK-2
Parent Coordinator: Monica Vargas
Zoned

What's special:

LEGO design curriculum; lots of emphasis on play and creative activities.

The downside:

Very limited after school program.

InsideSchools Review

Our review:

At PS 185 young children learn about the very grown-up subjects of engineering and design. Also known as the Early Childhood Discovery and Design Magnet School, PS 185 serves students in pre-K through 2nd grade. The school, which has long served mostly poor African-American and Latino students, has room for children living outside its zone and received a federal magnet grant designed to increase enrollment and make the school more racially and economically diverse.

The tone throughout the school is nurturing and very much geared toward an early childhood population. There’s plenty of instruction in core subjects such as reading and math, even in pre-K, but teachers also infuse lots of play and creative activities into daily lessons.

“We don’t want 1st grade to be about preparing for 4th grade,” said Principal Jane Murphy. “We focus on how to be a good six year-olds.” Pre-k and kindergarten classes have play areas, art corners as well as lots of blocks, LEGOs and toys. We saw impressive art projects and Lego models on display in 1st and 2nd grade classrooms.   Students in all grades get instruction in art, music and movement as well as lessons in the school’s LEGO lab, an entire classroom dedicated to design and engineering instruction.

In classrooms children seemed happy and engaged. We saw a range of skills. In one 2nd grade class we saw some tables of students reading very easy non-fiction books, with few words per page, while other groups of students were tackling grade appropriate and even challenging selections. Children in all grades are expected to write a lot in all subjects, including math. They record observations and results and typically wrap up small lessons and lengthier studies with reflections on what they learned and how they improved.

Instruction in engineering and design follows an early childhood curriculum designed by Marina Umaschi Bers, a Tufts University professor with dual expertise in childhood development and computer science. “We’re really big on LEGOs and learning through play,” said Murphy. Teachers receive training in the design curriculum, which is woven into lengthy studies on topics ranging from wind power and transportation to health and nutrition. The LEGO component of the program introduces students to engineering and promotes skills development. Students learn to follow instructions, tolerate frustration, expand on ideas and grapple with the process of trial and error. For instance, during a lesson on balance, kindergarten students were given a simple pattern of a bird to recreate with LEGOs. Once they constructed the bird according to the instructions, they were asked to attach two more LEGO pieces without tipping over the structure.

PS 185 is housed in a two-building complex that it shares with several small elementary schools including PS 208, another magnet grant recipient serving students in grades 3 to 5. Other schools on the premises include Harlem Link Charter School and PS 226, a small program run by District 75, the citywide district for students with severe disabilities. Harlem Success Academy 2 is slated to open several classes of fifth graders in the building for the 2012-13 school year.

Most PS 185 graduates attend PS 208, which focuses on environmental studies. The two schools work together to ensure that 2nd grade instruction at PS 185 helps prepare students for the transition to 3rd grade at PS 208, where students will have to take annual state exams.

Special education/ESL: There are self-contained and ICT (Integrated Collaborative Team) classes for children with special needs. An ESL teacher provides support to English language learners both in their regular class and also outside the classroom.

After school: Robotics is offered one day per week. Many students attend after school programs run by a local community center.

Admissions: Neighborhood school.   District 3 students who are not zoned for the school can apply by completing the District 3 magnet application. Residents in other districts will be considered for admission if space is available after all zoned and District 3 residents are placed. (Laura Zingmond, March 2012)

InsideStats

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At a glance

Shared campus? Yes

This school shares a building with Harlem Link Charter School

Number of Students 224

Average Daily Attendance 91%

Students at this school

Asian

  
4%

Black

  
59%

Hispanic

  
33%

White

  
2%

Free Lunch

  
92%

Special ed

  
15%

English Language Learners

  
7%

Safety & vibe

ARE KIDS
NICE?

How many teachers say bullying is a problem at school?

NA 17% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

95% 83% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

ARE CLASSES BIG?

Number of students in an average kindergarten class

23 23 CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Number of students in an average fifth grade class

NA 26 CITYWIDE AVERAGE

DO TEACHERS LIKE THE SCHOOL?

How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?

84% 80% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many teachers would recommend this school to other parents?

89% 83% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Attendance

How many students are chronically absent?

NA 23% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Academics

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

95% 84% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

100% 88% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

100% 91% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

NA 38% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

NA 29% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

NA 83% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Parents

Are parents involved?

How many parents responded to the school survey?

100% 68% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

76% 72% 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?

77% 75% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Do parents like the school?

How many parents would recommend this school to other parents?

93% 94% 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 7% 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 18% 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 16% 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?

99% 98% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

100% 89% 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?

91% 89% 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:

NA 6% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

NA 27% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

100% 90% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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