P.S. 31 Samuel F. Dupont
BROOKLYN NY 11222 Map
P.S. 31 Samuel F. Dupont
Extended PK hours offered: Yes
At PS 31, parents take pride in their school’s longstanding reputation for solid academics and old-fashioned values. The school is an orderly place where children are primed to follow the rules, but the environment is pleasant and instruction has moved away from very traditional methods.
Located in the Greenpoint section of Brooklyn, PS 31’s student body has shifted over time, but not as dramatically as in rapidly gentrifying areas such as nearby Williamsburg. The school attracts middle class families new to the area, but continues to serve many low-income families.
The school’s biggest change has been in tone and type of instruction. Teachers have shifted their lessons to emphasize group work and class discussions. “We used to be very traditional, with children sitting in rows facing the teacher,” said longtime principal Mary Scarlato. “Now they share ideas and critique each other’s work.”
Teachers in all grades use the Reciprocal Teaching method, where students, typically in groups of four, guide one another through a lesson. For instance, students may read a passage silently and then highlight key ideas as a group, answer each other’s questions, figure out the meaning of tricky words and predict what they may encounter as they continue their reading. In math, kids work together to break down and solve word problems.
The school has also boosted its writing and research instruction. During our visit we saw 1st-graders mapping out ideas for their next writing project. In the library, 2nd-graders worked in pairs to choose and research a state on laptop computers. Scanning the room we also noticed that most had by their side a grade-level or challenging book that they selected to read for enjoyment. In the upper grades students write lengthier essays.
There’s plenty of traditional learning going on too. We saw 5th-graders working in pairs to solve math problems in a textbook. Second-graders learn cursive writing and must use it exclusively starting in 3rd grade. A few parents we spoke with said they appreciated that the teachers were “strict” with their students.
Pre-kindergarten classes are vibrant spaces. During math time in one class, teachers worked one-on-one with students as their classmates played with stackable counting blocks or threaded string through labeled cardboard shapes such as a rhombus, rectangle and oval. Next door a very experienced pre-k teacher was at ease among the hubbub of center time where children were enjoying their activities of choice: sand table, painting, playing with cars and trucks, building with blocks or a computer math game.
Special teachers travel to classrooms to teach social studies and science. Enrichment activities, including art, music, ballroom dancing and chess, are funded by the Parents Association. Children produce an annual show in partnership with Disney Musicals in Schools.
PS 31 is part of the Greenpoint Eco-Schools initiative that funds a full-time “sustainability coach” who helps teachers and students design conservation and recycling projects to benefit the school and the community.
Working in the student-run bookstore is a popular activity. Students interview for jobs and manage all aspects of the business including handling purchases, setting prices (most books sell for $3 or less) writing book reviews, keeping track of inventory and running monthly promotions.
Children go outside for recess, but do not have access to the gymnasium, which has not been used in years. Scarlato says it is not adequately sound-proofed. Children have phys ed once or twice a week with their classroom teacher in a basement space. Teachers also lead a daily movement break in their classrooms.
SPECIAL EDUCATION: The school has ICT classes on each grade and SETSS. Speech and occupational therapy are provided onsite.
ADMISSIONS: Zoned, neighborhood school. PS 31 typically has room for students living outside its zone. (Laura Zingmond, May 2016)
At a glance
Number of Students 611
Average Daily Attendance 95%
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?100% 86% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
ARE CLASSES BIG?
Number of students in an average kindergarten class22 23 CITYWIDE AVERAGE
Number of students in an average fifth grade class26 26 CITYWIDE AVERAGE
DO TEACHERS LIKE THE SCHOOL?
How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?88% 84% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
How many teachers would recommend this school to other parents?88% 87% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
How many students are chronically absent?12% 22% 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?66% 75% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
Do parents like the school?
How many parents would recommend this school to other parents?99% 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:36% 8% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
Percent of self-contained students who scored 3 or 4 on the state ELA exam:5% 2% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
This school offers team teaching (ict).
Percent of ICT students who scored 3 or 4 on the state math exam:27% 19% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
Percent of ICT students who scored 3 or 4 on the state ELA exam:9% 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?