Central Park East II
MANHATTAN NY 10029 Map
Central Park East II
Extended PK hours offered: Yes
Central Park East II is a cheerful progressive school that values exploration and discovery. Teachers go by their first names and prize democratic relations. They crouch down to meet kids at eye-level, and chat easily with their principal, Naomi Smith. Children are encouraged to speak up, think for themselves and pursue their own interests.
The school has an eclectic approach to lessons and teachers are equal partners with the administration in making decisions. "We have no gurus here," said Smith, who has been in the New York City public school system since 1982 and taught many grades. The staff meets on Monday afternoons for two hours to plan and go over children's work. Teachers work with language and math coaches to deepen their practice.
In grades pre-k to 5, the day begins with "work time," during which children select an area of the room to explore. They may construct a house with blocks, try a cooking project or write a play. Teachers find ways to challenge top students while giving struggling kids the support they need. The level of writing varies and some of it is of high quality. Avid readers tackle fiction, nonfiction, comic books and other genres. Children are divided into ability groups for math using Engage NY lessons. In one, we watched kids rapidly jot down expressions for the number of the day (i.e., 74 = (40 x 2) - 6) using "mental math." In the next room, children used plastic counters to work through the same process.
Classrooms have a healthy buzz of movement and talk. Science takes place in the classroom with a science teacher up to twice a week. The lesson we saw was happy, verging on boisterous, as kids placed plastic cubes on balance scales, with the assistance of four roaming adults.
Many families opted out of taking state tests in 2015, including the entire 5th-grade class, and test results are not a great concern for Smith: "We do pretty well on tests," she said, referring to results prior to 2015, and those of the roughly 50 percent of 4th-graders, and the 3rd-graders, who were tested.
CPE II is creative with its physical education requirements to give kids new experiences and skills: The youngest grades ice skate weekly, 2nd-graders swim and 3rd-graders play tennis. Grades 4, 5 and 6 visit Taconic State Park camp, and everyone has gym at least once a week. Children bundle up and play outside even in cold weather, but a child who prefers to stay inside may be allowed to do so.
The school occupies one floor of PS 171, a larger school with a more traditional bent. Space is tight since CPE II has more than doubled since it opened, and this presents an ongoing problem that the community is wrestling to solve. Some kids eat lunch early; some offices are tucked in closet-size rooms.
CPE II was founded in 1981, modeled after its sister school, CPE I. The middle school, founded in 2015, is located four blocks away in a building shared with PS 108. Smith frequently consults her cell phone to keep in touch and visits daily. A few elementary school teachers moved up to 6th grade to provide continuity and exude a can-do spirit that inspires confidence.
There were two 6th-grade classrooms at the time of our visit, each with 21 children, comprising a range of skills, from several children who were previously in a small, 5th-grade "self contained," special education class to independent high-achievers, said Smith. Some children are pulled out for small group math lessons with the likable music teacher who doubles as a math coach and art teacher.
The classrooms have a homey feel with plants and homemade posters. Two teachers combine science and humanities in an environmental study in partnership with Welikia. Students make three trips to Randall's Island to study oysters and monitor a classroom aquarium with oysters.
One downside: The middle school lacks a regular custodian and parents have had to pitch in to help keep bathrooms clean.
SPECIAL EDUCATION: In the lower school about one-fourth of the population has special needs and there are many teaching assistants to help them. At least one class per grade integrates children with special needs and two teachers in the lower and middle schools.
ADMISSIONS: CPE II requires families to visit first to make them understand its progressive stance. Pre-k and kindergarten classes fill up with younger siblings and District 4 families. Smith said they took children off the waitlist in 2015. If interested, "Be a squeaky wheel but not too squeaky," she said. Middle school priority goes to continuing 5th-grade CPE II students, then CPE I students, then District 4 families. (Lydie Raschka, January 2016)
At a glance
Number of Students 281
Average Daily Attendance 93%
Safety & vibe
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?94% 86% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
ARE CLASSES BIG?
Number of students in an average kindergarten class22 23 CITYWIDE AVERAGE
Number of students in an average fifth grade classNA 26 CITYWIDE AVERAGE
DO TEACHERS LIKE THE SCHOOL?
How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?100% 84% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
How many teachers would recommend this school to other parents?100% 87% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
How many students are chronically absent?18% 22% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
Percent of 3rd, 4th & 5th graders who scored 3 or 4 on the state math exam
Percent of 3rd, 4th & 5th graders who scored 3 or 4 on the state ela exam
Percent of 4th graders who scored 3 or 4 on the state science exam
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?94% 75% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
Do parents like the school?
How many parents would recommend this school to other parents?98% 94% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
Special ed & ELL
How well does this school serve students with disabilities?
This school offers self-contained classes.
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
This school offers team teaching (ict).
Percent of ICT students who scored 3 or 4 on the state math exam:22% 19% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
Percent of ICT students who scored 3 or 4 on the state ELA exam:13% 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?
How many teachers say students with special needs are educated in the least restrictive environment appropriate?
How many parents of students with ieps say this school offers a wide enough variety of services and activities for their children’s needs?