P.S. 63 Author's Academy
BRONX NY 10456 Map
P.S. 63 Author's Academy
Extended PK hours offered: Contact program about extended hours.
Called "the secret of the South Bronx" by satisfied parents, PS 63 is an oasis of calm, boasting steady leadership that enables new and veteran teachers to deliver lessons with very clear expectations. In a word, said long-time principal Reinaldo Diaz-Lens, the school provides students with "continuity."
Children have spots on the rug indicating where they are to sit, and attention is given to details such as how to hold a pencil correctly. In one class we observed, students were instructed to face each other to discuss writing ideas with a partner, and "touch the page" of a book when re-telling the "big event" on that page. Administrators and coaches keep tabs on assessments of student work and every assignment on display has feedback from the teacher.
There is comfort in this level of clarity, and at PS 63 it garners results: "Our kids test well," said Diaz-Lens, referring to state exams, on which children are rated according to a four-point scale with 4 as the highest. "We know we can move Level 1's and 2's up." He showed us the reading levels of a class of 23 second graders: three were reading just below grade level, two above, and the majority were solidly in the middle.
Staffers work closely with children who are struggling and create extra lessons to help them practice gaps in their skills. We watched 4th graders review spelling patterns for this reason, changing singular nouns, like "baby," to the plural "babies." The principal said, "We look at trends. We try to anticipate pitfalls." Kids who are still learning English attend early morning classes. For additional support, there are "self-contained" classes for English learners on every grade level.
In this well-organized school administrators are now asking themselves what they can do for kids at the top. When students finish their math work in class they are instructed to help a partner or practice math facts, but Diaz said these kids can be pushed to do even more in areas like measurement and early algebra. The school has a twice a week early morning classes for high achievers.
Children who have special needs are not treated differently here. On our visit to a team-taught class with a mix of kids who have special needs and their general education peers, a small group of five sat at a back table guided by a teacher. This smaller group was a mix of kids from both camps who needed help with a particular math concept. A "self-contained" class is directly across the hall so children who need a higher level of assistance can easily go back and forth between classes to join lessons depending on their strengths or weaknesses.
In the backyard, a portable "mini school" is occupied by Mott Hall Charter (not to be confused with Mott Hall middle school in Harlem) which will move into several classes in the main building in 2014 as they await the construction of their own building. PS 63 lacks a real gym so each school uses one of two makeshift spaces with padded pillars. The auditorium and the cafeteria are shared.
Admissions: Neighborhood school (Lydie Raschka, October 2013)
At a glance
Number of Students 650
Average Daily Attendance 91%
Safety & vibe
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?88% 81% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
ARE CLASSES BIG?
Number of students in an average kindergarten classNA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE
Number of students in an average fifth grade classNA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE
DO TEACHERS LIKE THE SCHOOL?
How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?90% 80% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
How many teachers would recommend this school to other parents?NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE
How many students are chronically absent?37% 23% 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?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?
This school offers self-contained classes.
Percent of self-contained students who scored 3 or 4 on the state math exam:4% 8% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
Percent of self-contained students who scored 3 or 4 on the state ELA exam:0% 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:22% 9% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
Percent of SETSS students who scored 3 or 4 on the state math exam:57% 17% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
Percent of SETSS students who scored 3 or 4 on the state ELA exam:14% 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?