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

An Insideschools pick
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
Number of full-day PK seats: 72
Extended PK hours offered: Contact program about extended hours.
Zoned
Full Day
School-based pre-k

What's special:

LEGO design curriculum; emphasis on play and creative activities.

The downside:

Only goes through 2nd grade

InsideSchools Review

Our review:

At PS 185 very young children learn about the 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 tone is gentle, supportive and balanced. There's plenty of instruction in reading and math, even in pre-K, but teachers also infuse lots of play and creative activities into daily lessons.

Children study dance and piano, practice yoga, take walks in Central Park and delve into engineering basics in the Lego Lab. Once a week they spend time on longer projects based on science and social studies units, such as constructing and labeling the parts of trees out of recycled materials, or creating a comic strip on how matter changes state.

Unlike many schools, PS 185 has moved toward a more playful and project-based model since the citywide adoption of Common Core learning goals: it has added the weekly projects and brought back "centers" such as blocks and dramatic play in kindergarten. Next: big blocks and tricycles in the playground.

Principal Jane Murphy taught at progressive Central Park East I back when it served mostly low-income families, as PS 185 does now. She believes children from all walks of life are best served by "stimulating and challenging curriculum." The school's nice mix of structure and creative freedom has begun to attract a few professional parents new to Harlem. Murphy is proud that the school is able to draw middle class parents even without a gifted and talented program, which she finds exclusive and sometimes divisive. "Children need to interact with lots of different kids," she said.

PS 185 teachers try to take into account the needs of children who surge ahead as well as those who fall behind. In the Lego Lab, a child spoke excitedly of using "interlocking" and "overlapping" pieces to build a sturdy wall. During group phonics lessons, a child may work independently on more advanced skills. Children gather in small daily math groups based on what they need help with most. A reading teacher works daily with eight groups of struggling readers in the library.

Teachers emphasize the child-friendly rules—"be safe, be kind, be helpful, be ready"—by awarding points in the shape of cut out bumblebees. Yet choice, chatter and movement are encouraged, giving kids opportunities to learn to regulate their own behavior too.

Parents raved about the "small and personal" community and discovery-filled approach. "I want them to have this fervor and zeal for learning," said a mother who felt some schools were "too focused on tests at an early age." The downside: some parents wondered where to send their children for 3rd grade. "It's one of the biggest concerns of families here," a parent said.

Most graduates attend PS 208, which serves grades 3 to 5. This is one solution, though a mother with children in both schools said she missed the camaraderie and playful approach of the early childhood school.

PS 185 is housed in a two-building complex that it shares with PS 208, Harlem Link Charter School and PS 226, a small program run by District 75, the citywide district for students with severe disabilities.

SPECIAL EDUCATION/ESL: There are several team-taught classes that place some children with disabilities in general ed classrooms with two teachers. An ESL teacher provides support to English language learners both in their regular class and also outside the classroom. There is one "self-contained" class for children with significant disabilities.

ADMISSIONS: Neighborhood school. The school has admitted students from outside the zone and the district in recent years. (Lydie Raschka, November 2016)

InsideStats

Click tabs above to see school stats

At a glance

Shared campus? Yes

This school shares a building with Harlem Link Charter School and PS 208.

Number of Students 241

Average Daily Attendance 92%

Students at this school

Asian

  
3%

Black

  
58%

Hispanic

  
28%

White

  
4%

Free Lunch

  
87%

Special ed

  
20%

English Language Learners

  
8%

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?

78% 80% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many teachers would recommend this school to other parents?

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Attendance

How many students are chronically absent?

31% 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

NA 41% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

NA 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?

100% 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?

94% 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?

90% 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:

NA 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

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