PS 126 Jacob August Riis/Manhattan Academy of Technology

An Insideschools pick
80 CATHERINE STREET
MANHATTAN NY 10038 Map
Phone: (212) 962-2188
Website: Click here
Admissions: neighborhood school/selective program
Principal: JACQUELINE GETZ
Neighborhood: Lower East Side/ Chinatown
District: 2
Grade range: PK-8
Parent Coordinator: REBECCA JOHNSON
Zoned

What's special:

Strong academics and a wide array of sports

The downside:

PTA isn't as well-funded as some other District 2 schools

InsideSchools Review

Our review:

A sweet, engaging place, PS 126/Manhattan Academy of Technology (MAT) is a combined elementary and middle school with strong academics and an impressive array of sports. Jacqueline Getz, who became principal in 2011, has worked to strengthen the social studies curriculum and to better integrate special needs children into regular classes.

The elementary school serves neighborhood children from Chinatown and the Lower East Side, representing a range of races, ethnicities and income levels—including children from nearby housing projects and those from a homeless shelter that's just on the other side of the school's playground. It does a good job teaching English to kids who speak Spanish or Chinese at home. Kids were happy and well-behaved in every class we visited.

PS 126 is a place where teachers can perfect their craft, and in doing so they offer children of different races and income levels thoughtful, rigorous, progressive education. Getz, formerly principal of the Manhattan New School, is a pioneer in helping teachers hone the kinds of in-depth social studies and science investigations that are popular at many schools today. Reading, writing and science come together in an investigation of birds in 2nd grade, for example, and 5th-graders spend two months studying prairie ecosystems to support their Westward Expansion unit. The school uses Math in Focus, a Singapore-based math program, and a math consultant works with teachers, who also visit each other during math lessons to offer feedback. Nearly all teachers responding to the Learning Environment Survey said the school values professional development.

The middle school, called MAT, is open to children from across District 2 and middle class parents from neighborhoods like Tribeca clamor for admission. Teachers do a good job giving extra help to the children who need it while offering a challenge to the top students, even though students aren’t grouped by ability. For example, a strong reader may be assigned a complex book about World War II, while a struggling reader may be assigned an easy one—but all can take part in the same class discussion. Eighth-graders may take the algebra and earth science Regents exams. Most classes have two teachers. Teachers may work with a small group of students, or even one-on-one.

In a middle school history class, teachers brought the Bill of Rights to life by using newspaper articles about the gun control debate to discuss the Second Amendment; and articles about police “stop-and-frisk” tactics to discuss the Fourth Amendment. Students wrote letters to their elected officials to encourage them to take a stand on these issues.

The school has two art teachers and two music teachers that serve all grades. The physical education teacher, John DeMatteo, has assembled 51 teams in 27 sports—exotic sports like surfing and more traditional ones like soccer and basketball. The fitness room has exercise bikes attached to video games—making exercise fun even for kids who might otherwise prefer to be couch potatoes. 

The building, constructed in the 1970s, has wide, shiny corridors, clean white walls and doors trimmed in yellow, red, blue, lavender, green and purple. Large windows let in plenty of sunlight, and there are views of the Brooklyn Bridge just a few blocks away. A climbing wall (with fake rocks) on the back of the stage in the auditorium gives kids a place to stretch their legs. One possible downside: The PTA isn’t as rich as at most District 2 schools, and cannot raise as much money for extras.

A large proportion of graduates attend specialized high schools, including LaGuardia, and District 2 schools, such as Eleanor Roosevelt and Millennium. Beacon High School is also popular.

Special education: The school has long served children with a range of special education needs. The school has dismantled the so-called “self-contained” special education class and moved those students into integrated co-teaching classes with two teachers, one of whom is certified in special education.

Admissions: Zoned elementary school. Fifth-graders from PS 126 get first priority to the middle school, but students from anywhere in District 2 may apply. (Clara Hemphill, October, 2012)

InsideStats

Click tabs above to see school stats

At a glance

Shared campus? No

This school is in its own building

Number of Students 841

Average Daily Attendance 96%

Students at this school

Asian

  
56%

Black

  
10%

Hispanic

  
23%

White

  
10%

Free Lunch

  
79%

Special ed

  
16%

English Language Learners

  
19%

Safety & vibe

ARE KIDS
NICE?

How many teachers say bullying is a problem at school?

21% 22% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many teachers say order and discipline are maintained in the school?

91% 77% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

ARE CLASSES BIG?

Number of students in an average kindergarten class

26 23 CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Number of students in an average fifth grade class

24 26 CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Number of students in an average middle school english class

30 26 CITYWIDE AVERAGE

DO TEACHERS LIKE THE SCHOOL?

How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?

86% 80% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many teachers would recommend this school to other parents?

95% 80% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Attendance

How many students are chronically absent?

12% 22% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Academics

How many teachers say this school offers enough programs, classes and activities to keep students engaged?

98% 78% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many teachers say this school does a good job teaching social-emotional skills?

91% 84% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many teachers say this school does a good job teaching organizational and study skills?

88% 87% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

64% 38% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

51% 29% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

76% 84% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

91% 59% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many 8th grades pass high school regents exams?

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

89% 23% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

70% 15% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Parents

Are parents involved?

How many parents responded to the school survey?

34% 62% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many parents say they attended at least one pta meeting in the last school year?

72% 69% 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?

50% 71% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Do parents like the school?

How many parents would recommend this school to other parents?

99% 93% 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:

0% 3% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Percent of self-contained students who scored 3 or 4 on the state ELA exam:

0% 1% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

21% 8% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

8% 5% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

44% 9% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

13% 6% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many parents say students with disabilities are included in all activities?

98% 97% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many teachers say students with special needs are educated in the least restrictive environment appropriate?

91% 87% 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?

97% 88% 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:

13% 4% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

46% 19% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many teachers say this school ensures that ells receive the same curriculum as non-ells with appropriate suppports?

95% 88% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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