P.S. 153 Helen Keller
BRONX NY 10475 Map
P.S. 153 Helen Keller
Extended PK hours offered: Contact program about extended hours.
Located on the massive Truman campus in Co-Op City, PS 153 does a good job serving a diverse mix of students, including those in the district's gifted and talented program, neighborhood children and special education students. The school provides a structured environment where students wear uniforms and have hefty homework assignments.
Principal Veronica Goka took over in 2008 and has taught has far away as Ghana and Liberia, but also worked at a Lutheran school in Manhattan and at PS 89 in the Bronx. She shies away from the word "traditional" when describing her approach to education but does focus on rigorous academics and seems to run a tight ship. She said teachers give "quite a bit of homework" to all students, including kindergarteners. Students also receive assignments over school breaks and there is a focus on test prep for the state exams in grades three through five. In the classes we visited, pupils were working diligently and quietly.
Goka says her approach has improved test scores, as well as the school's overall Progress Report grade, and has made the school one of the top in District 11. We found some classrooms a bit sparse. For example, kindergarten classrooms had had only book bins and small rugs for group activities. There were no play areas or blocks.
However, most of the classrooms we visited had computers and Smart Boards, and students take non-academic classes such as ballet, theater and robotics. There is also a well-stocked, inviting library, an updated science lab and a computer room with rows of Macs.
Parent participation is encouraged and, when we visited, Goka estimated that about 50 percent of families were actively involved. There is a Parents' Association office in the school with office hours posted on the door and the parent coordinator seemed open and inviting, touting his Dads for Kids program, which encourages fathers to work on projects together with their children and each other. There is a "class parent" in every class to serve as a liaison and student assemblies, presentations and PA meetings are well-attended, according to the PA president. Parents generally give the school high marks on its Learning Environment Survey, which measures how readily parents can get involved, communication and parent satisfaction with their children's education.
The school has a confusing layout, spanning several floors, but artwork adorning the hallways keeps it inviting. Outside, however, PS 153 students have to contend with other students from the six schools on the Truman campus, including middle and high schoolers, and sometimes parents and students complain about things like smoking.
Middle school: Goka said about half of her graduates go to the neighborhood school, MS 80, and the rest go to independent or parochial schools or take advantage of the city's school choice program to enroll out of the area.
After school: A partnership with Montefiore Medical Center provides homework help, arts, and sports.
Special education: The school had approximately 120 special education students in 2012 and can accommodate a wide range of disabilities. There are inclusion classes in grades three through five and pull-out classes in every grade. There are few English language learners but those that are enrolled are integrated into general education classes. There is also a partnership with a District 75 school, located in the same building, and able-bodied and gifted students mingle with those who have special needs.
Admissions: The school has a district gifted and talented program for students in kindergarten through fifth grade. The special education program is open to any student in District 11. For general education, the school is zoned for Co-Op City. (Nikki Dowling, April 2012)
At a glance
Number of Students 738
Average Daily Attendance 95%
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?57% 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?94% 80% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
How many teachers would recommend this school to other parents?NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE
How many students are chronically absent?15% 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:12% 8% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
Percent of self-contained students who scored 3 or 4 on the state ELA exam:4% 2% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
This school offers team teaching (ict).
Percent of ICT students who scored 3 or 4 on the state math exam:5% 19% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
Percent of ICT students who scored 3 or 4 on the state ELA exam:0% 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?