P.S. 81 Robert J. Christen

An Insideschools pick
5550 RIVERDALE AVENUE
BRONX NY 10471 Map
Phone: (718) 796-8965
Website: Click here
Admissions: Neighborhood school
Principal: Anna Kirrane
Neighborhood: North Riverdale
District: 10
Grade range: K-5
Parent Coordinator: NINA VELAZQUEZ
Zoned

What's special:

An emphasis on citizenship, beautiful campus

The downside:

No pre-k; lacks separate music, art and science rooms

InsideSchools Review

Our review:

Housed in a stately 1925 Georgian structure in the northernmost corner of Riverdale, PS 81 has a respectful, unified tone; well-structured lessons; and consistency throughout the building.

Safe, predictable routines seem particularly beneficial for calming anxious children. In a happy, well-run kindergarten class, for instance, a teacher put one such child in charge of starting the timer for reading time, and the child took on this role with pride and responsibility.

Fifth graders serve as big brothers and sisters to younger students. When children stand to recite Shakespeare some speak with Russian, Dominican or Pakistani inflections, a fact this community celebrates. There are classes in dance, visual art, music and drama.

PS 81's test scores indicate roughly half the students meet or exceed state academic standards—a very respectable showing especially compared to other Bronx schools. Still, city Education Department evaluations of the school cite slightly below-average student progress compared to similar schools.

Many teachers have years of experience but at the time of our visit more than half a dozen were new, including several Manhattan College graduates who had worked as student teachers at PS 81. A young teacher said she feels like a fully contributing member of the staff. "We get heard just as equally," she said.

Principal Anna Kirrane was assistant principal at PS 81 for nine years before taking over in October 2012. She arrives at 6:30 am each day to be available to anyone with concerns, and takes the time to greet parents who drop by. Kirrane attended boarding school in Ireland as a girl, and is of Irish heritage. She urges all parents to "share your rich heritage with your child."

After a year of getting to know children, teachers select 25 to 30 kindergartners for placement in the school's accelerated program, which begins in 1st grade. The make-up of the class is determined by reading levels, as well as "work ethic and ability to move forward," said Kirrane. Students usually work a grade ahead and a child must keep up with the work to remain in these classes.

There are no separate music, art or science rooms but there are two full-time art teachers (visual art and music/drama), and the children study dance, visual art, music and drama in a series of arts residencies throughout the grades.

SPECIAL EDUCATION: Each grade features at least one team-teaching classroom, where students with special needs are taught alongside peers in general education. The school has three small "self-contained" classrooms for children with special needs only.

ADMISSIONS: Zoned, neighborhood school. (Lydie Raschka, May 2016; updated August 2016)

InsideStats

Click tabs above to see school stats

At a glance

Shared campus? No

This school is in its own building.

Number of Students 683

Average Daily Attendance 94%

Students at this school

Asian

  
8%

Black

  
10%

Hispanic

  
49%

White

  
30%

Free Lunch

  
46%

Special ed

  
17%

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?

98% 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?

96% 80% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many teachers would recommend this school to other parents?

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Attendance

How many students are chronically absent?

18% 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

65% 41% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

61% 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?

99% 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:

20% 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:

14% 19% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

8% 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?

100% 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?

87% 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:

0% 6% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

75% 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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