P.S. 20 Clinton Hill
BROOKLYN NY 11205 Map
P.S. 20 Clinton Hill
PS 20 bursts with energy and life. Hallways are lined with student writing and artwork. Spacious and inviting classrooms have corners for dramatic play and rich supplies of books and art materials, especially in the lower grades. The school’s dynamic principal, Lena Barbera, has expanded project-based learning and the arts, as she did in her previous job as assistant principal at the popular PS 261.
A school-wide character-building project uses shared books to develop empathy, friendship, and tolerance. A bulletin board “Garden of Good Deeds” in the main-floor hallway celebrates small kindnesses and everyday compassion. We saw a lot of spontaneous affection between children and teachers on our visit.
PS 20 marries the old and the new. Boys and girls walk in separate lines and there is an optional uniform. Many classrooms have antique wooden cupboards and closets. One pre-K room even has a working fireplace. At the same time, there is strong progressive teaching and abundant use of technology, including SMARTboards, lots of computers, and laptops. PS 20 is part of the Department of Education’s Innovation Zone or iZone, which offers computer-based learning. A dual language, French-English program began in 2013.
Despite many strengths, the school faces challenges. Barbera became interim acting principal in 2009 after the former principal, Sean Keaton was arrested and charged with assaulting a kindergarten teacher, who remains on the staff. It took four years for her to be officially named principal, in February 2013. The school’s test scores are disappointing. While students were focused in most classes we observed, some were less engaged and a few were rambunctious.
PS 20 shares its building with the Academy of Arts and Letters, a middle school that in 2011 expanded, adding elementary grades. The two schools have a cordial, collaborative partnership: They are working together on projects to benefit all students in the building, such as a rooftop greenhouse with a classroom, amphitheater, real grass and play space and a renovation of the shared schoolyard. Still, some PS 20 parents fear the expansion of Arts and Letters comes at the expense of their school, which has been steadily losing enrollment. The addition of a French dual-language program in 2013 may attract more parents to PS 20.
Special education: Collaborative team teaching classes, which blend general-education and special education students with two certified teachers, will grow up the grades until there is a CTT class on every grade. The school’s single self-contained classroom for special education students is as compelling, interesting and visually rich as any other classroom in the school, with high-quality student work on display.
Admissions: PS 20 is a zoned neighborhood school that frequently has space for students from outside the zone. Native French-speakers get priority in admissions to the dual language program. (Helen Zelon, February 2011; updated june 2013)
At a glance
Number of Students 321
Average Daily Attendance 92%
Safety & vibe
How many teachers say bullying is a problem at school?23% 17% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
How many teachers say order and discipline are maintained in the school?86% 83% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
ARE CLASSES BIG?
Number of students in an average kindergarten class16 23 CITYWIDE AVERAGE
Number of students in an average fifth grade class24 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?91% 83% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
How many students are chronically absent?26% 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?85% 75% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
Do parents like the school?
How many parents would recommend this school to other parents?92% 94% 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:0% 7% 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:7% 18% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
Percent of ICT students who scored 3 or 4 on the state ELA exam:0% 9% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
This school offers SETSS.
Percent of SETSS students who scored 3 or 4 on the state math exam:40% 16% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
Percent of SETSS students who scored 3 or 4 on the state ELA exam:20% 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?