Explore Charter School

655 PARKSIDE AVENUE
BROOKLYN NY 11226 Map
Phone: (718) 703-4484
Website: Click here
Admissions: Lottery/District 17 priority
Principal: Michal-Anne Jones/Kevin Mara
Neighborhood: Prospect-Lefferts Gardens
District: 17
Grade range: K-8
Unzoned
Charter School

What's special:

Diverse staff, community feeling

The downside:

Disruption from moves, unremarkable English scores

InsideSchools Review

Our review:

Explore Charter School styles itself as a back-to-basics, college-prep charter, with a low-key and warm atmosphere. Like many charter schools, Explore relocated during its early years. Now among the oldest operating charter schools in the city, few of its students and teachers remember the disruption caused by its 2004 move from downtown Brooklyn to the Flatbush neighborhood. In fall 2011, the full-grown school again relocated, to the MS 2 building [shown in this Brooklyn Eagle photo] a mile away. 

Classes of 16 to 22 students are aided by a handful of staff members who work with small groups of students on the side to support academics or resolve behavior issues. Teachers use uniform gestures and expressions to keep students focused on learning. Several times we heard, "SLANT check-in: 3-2-1,"; or some variant. (The acronym stands for "Sit up, listen, ask and answer, nod for understanding, and track the speaker.") The day runs from 8:20 a.m to 3:45 p.m for lower-school students; older students start at 7:45 a.m. The school divides the year into five terms, sending a report card home every eight weeks.

These structures helped 74 percent of students pass the state English tests in 2009. To further increase the success rate, the school has started using reading tests from Achievement Network, whose coaches work with teachers four times a year to create plans for specific students. "It's something we've done with math for a long time and hadn't found a way to do with literacy," says Tracy Rebe, principal at the time of our 2011 visit. [In 2012, Tracy Rebe was replaced by Rod Bowen.]

In K-4 classes, students were engaged in math, reading, and social studies lessons. For a class newspaper project, a 4th-grade class split into groups to draft articles on an aspect of the Revolutionary War. When some students' attention strayed, teachers were generally able to draw them back, but some teachers let more noise bubble in the classroom than would be acceptable at some other "no excuses" charter schools. A 5th and 6th grade English class on metaphors had some students less than engaged, as they sat on the rug.

Upper-school classrooms have SMARTboards. Students use computers almost exclusively in the library, said librarian Mark Engel.

Parents praised the school's frequent reports and notices, its strictness on rules, and the energy of the staff; 10 of 11 parents had high praise for the school. The teaching staff is ethnically more diverse than at some other network-supported charter schools. All staff must respond to parent messages within 24 hours.

Afterschool: For K-4, a handful of neighborhood after-care programs pick up at the school. The upper-school students stay for tutoring and clubs that include glee, flag football, basketball, running, and cooking.

Special Education: The school provides SETSS services to 17 percent of students.

Admissions: Lottery, District 17 preference. (Matt Fleischer Black, March 2011)

InsideStats

Click tabs above to see school stats

At a glance

Shared campus? Yes

This school shares the building with MS 2 and a District 75 program, K141

Number of Students 529

Average Daily Attendance 96%

Students at this school

Asian

  
0%

Black

  
85%

Hispanic

  
12%

White

  
0%

Free Lunch

  
74%

Special ed

  
13%

English Language Learners

  
5%

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?

39% 75% 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

Number of students in an average middle school english class

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

DO TEACHERS LIKE THE SCHOOL?

How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?

49% 79% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many teachers would recommend this school to other parents?

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Attendance

How many students are chronically absent?

NA 22% 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 students in grades 3-8 who scored 3 or 4 on the state math exam

30% 40% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Percent of students in grades 3-8 who scored 3 or 4 on the state ela exam

29% 41% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Percent of 8th graders who scored 3 or 4 on the state science exam

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many 8th grades pass high school regents exams?

Percent of 8th graders who take and pass the algebra regents:

11% 14% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Percent of 8th graders who take and pass a science regents:

0% 17% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Parents

Are parents involved?

How many parents responded to the school survey?

78% 59% 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 6% 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:

0% 14% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

0% 8% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

0% 15% 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?

75% 91% 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?

78% 84% 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% 3% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

0% 19% 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)