P.S. 130 Hernando De Soto
MANHATTAN NY 10013 Map
P.S. 130 Hernando De Soto
PS 130 has a rare combination of progressive and traditional teaching that feels just right. Located in the heart of Chinatown, the school reflects and serves the surrounding community. It is a stable school with a well-regarded principal, good test scores and one of the highest attendance rates in the city. This is not a school where teachers are working in isolation: families are strong partners who support the school’s efforts at home. Over the years, the administration has sought to balance academics with art, music and dance, and has brought in more technology.
At PS 130 children read fun books, write on topics they choose and work together on projects. Big cut-out paper whales “swim” along hallway walls, the products of a 3rd grade social studies unit on oceans. Art is infused into academics, yet test scores reflect a level of achievement one might find in a school with extended hours and lots of test prep. “We’re not a test prep type of school,” said Principal Lily Woo. “We give them strategies and skills that will help them and be applicable to life.” She credits “longevity and consistency” for her school’s success. [Lily Woo retired in 2014 and now directs the Cahn Fellows Program for distinguished principals at Teachers College, Columbia University. Her successor is Renny Fong, who has a master's degree from Teachers College. He led the technology program at PS 130 and briefly served as assistant principal.]
Most impressive is the school's skill in teaching English to children who speak only Chinese at home. All of the kindergarten teachers are also certified as specialists in English as a Second Language. Although the majority of children enter school speaking only Chinese (a handful speak Spanish), nearly all pass the exam that shows that they have adequate command of English within a few years.
Kindergarten writing samples look like first or second grade work. Handwriting is neat and spelling and grammar are clearly a focus but even the youngest children come up with their own sentences. Students learn math in a variety of ways. We saw 5th graders work on story problems using individual computers and small wipe-off boards. Others clustered around large sheets of paper to tackle a multi-step problem in small groups.
Movement from one activity to another was orderly but not necessarily strict. Teachers were relaxed and approachable. Children’s faces lit up when they saw Lily Woo. One boy grinned and said, “See you later, crocodile!” as she passed by. “You can’t really get burned out in this school,” said teacher Nomi Kessler. “You don’t really have any behavior problems.”
Woo has added more arts, which she says motivates struggling students and offsets the academics. A full-time arts coordinator schedules dance, violin, theater, chess, chorus, Lion Dance Club and more. The arts are seen as a way to practice language skills and build confidence. Dance and movement help make up for the fact that there is no outdoor play area except for the roof, which is a big climb to reach, and therefore infrequently used. Students have gym once or twice a week.
In the parent room a handful of women were making decorations for Chinese New Year. A small percentage of children are not Asian and staff help bridge the cultural gap by translating birthday invitations into Mandarin or helping a family extend an offer for a play date. Play dates are not a big priority at the school however. Many kids are enrolled in after-school activities and a number of the families make use of one of the many tutoring centers in the area. “From the Asian perspective, they always want more,” said Woo.
After-school academic intervention is every other day alternating with enrichment classes such as karate, arts and crafts, chess, chorus, and a fife and drum corp. Teachers recommend after-school support for about 200 children. The school uniform is a dark polo shirt with the school logo often paired with jeans. Friday is “dress down” day.
Special education: A special education teacher works with children in the classroom or pulls them out for instruction. Small bilingual classes with only special needs children are available for grades K-2 and 3-5. Speech, occupational therapy and physical therapy are available. The building is barrier-free.
Admissions: neighborhood school; there is one district G & T classroom per grade and admissions is according to Department of Education standards. (Lydie Raschka, January 2012; new principal update December 2014)
At a glance
Number of Students 999
Average Daily Attendance 98%
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?96% 83% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
ARE CLASSES BIG?
Number of students in an average kindergarten class24 23 CITYWIDE AVERAGE
Number of students in an average fifth grade class27 26 CITYWIDE AVERAGE
DO TEACHERS LIKE THE SCHOOL?
How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?100% 80% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
How many teachers would recommend this school to other parents?96% 83% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
How many students are chronically absent?2% 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?60% 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 does not offer self-contained classes.
Percent of self-contained students who scored 3 or 4 on the state math exam:NA 7% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
Percent of self-contained students who scored 3 or 4 on the state ELA exam:NA 2% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
This school does not offer team teaching (ict).
Percent of ICT students who scored 3 or 4 on the state math exam:NA 18% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
Percent of ICT students who scored 3 or 4 on the state ELA exam:NA 9% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
This school offers SETSS.
Percent of SETSS students who scored 3 or 4 on the state math exam:42% 16% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
Percent of SETSS students who scored 3 or 4 on the state ELA exam:21% 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?