P.S. 217 Colonel David Marcus School
An Insideschools pick
BROOKLYN NY 11230 Map
P.S. 217 Colonel David Marcus School
PS 217 is a large, popular neighborhood school with a strong arts focus and a multi-ethnic group of children who speak 23 languages. The administration welcomes parents and takes their suggestions seriously--whether it's a request for a salad bar in the cafeteria or after school chess classes.
The school offers rich drama, music and art classes. Children put on two plays a year, with scripts the school librarian adapts from children's books including Alice in Wonderland, Pinocchio, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe. When the federal magnet grant that paid for the arts expired, parents stepped in to raise money to make sure the programs continued. Art classes may include animation and filmmaking; children may play the recorder, sing or learn to play percussion instruments in music.
The building is clean and well maintained, with spotless bathrooms, and a well-equipped computer lab and a dedicated science room. The large, attractive library is open to both parents and students at 8 a.m., so children who don't have computers at home can work.
Children appeared to be at ease and happy on our visit. There is plenty of time for free play, including outdoor recess. Teachers encourage children to take fitness breaks in class, called "Move to Improve," to relieve any restlessness they might experience and to help them make a smooth transition from one activity to the next.
The student population is both racially and economically mixed: Children walk to school from modest apartment buildings and grand Victorian houses. More than 250 children are learning English as a Second Language.
Franca Conti, principal since 2004 and an immigrant herself, is sensitive to children who are learning English. She favors hiring bilingual teachers whenever possible, and many of her teachers are immigrants as well.
The school has its own gifted and talented program, although it is not designated as such by the Department of Education. Children are placed in the gifted kindergarten class based on their score on the city's G&T exam; older children are placed according to their teachers recommendation.
The school's population has grown in recent years. Class sizes are rather large; 25 for kindergarten but about 30 for the other grades. There are three lunch periods, beginning at 10:30 a.m. There are vegetarian meals available as well as a salad bar that is manned by the older children. Children sometimes eat vegetables that they have grown in an outdoor garden.
An extensive after school program includes clubs in movement and exercise; puppets and marionette; American Sign Language; chess; singing and dancing; digital photography; aerobics; drama Club, Violin and Trumpet. Many of the clubs contribute to the two major performances the school produces per year. Some of the clubs are run by parents who are arts professionals.
Special education: The school offers team teaching, physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy. There are two psychologists, a social worker and a family worker on staff. Vision and hearing teachers visit regularly. The school has an elevator and is barrier free, and it serves both physically handicapped children and those on the autism spectrum.
Admissions: Neighborhood school. The school offers tours for prospective parents and often has a few seats for children from outside the attendance zone. (Eliana Mascio, February 2013)
At a glance
Number of Students 1302
Average Daily Attendance 95%
Safety & vibe
How many teachers say bullying is a problem at school?16% 15% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
How many teachers say order and discipline are maintained in the school?94% 83% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
ARE CLASSES BIG?
Number of students in an average kindergarten class23 23 CITYWIDE AVERAGE
Number of students in an average fifth grade class33 26 CITYWIDE AVERAGE
DO TEACHERS LIKE THE SCHOOL?
How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?87% 79% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
How many teachers would recommend this school to other parents?93% 84% 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 2013 math exam
Percent of 3rd, 4th & 5th graders who scored 3 or 4 on the 2013 ela exam
Percent of 4th graders who scored 3 or 4 on the 2013 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 2012-2013 school year?60% 74% 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?
As of 2012-2013, this school offers self-contained classes.
Percent of self-contained students who scored 3 or 4 on the 2013 math exam:0% 5% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
Percent of self-contained students who scored 3 or 4 on the 2013 ELA exam:0% 2% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
As of 2012-2013, this school offers team teaching (ict).
Percent of ICT students who scored 3 or 4 on the 2013 math exam:10% 13% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
Percent of ICT students who scored 3 or 4 on the 2013 ELA exam:5% 7% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
As of 2012-2013, this school offers SETSS.
Percent of SETSS students who scored 3 or 4 on the 2013 math exam:9% 11% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
Percent of SETSS students who scored 3 or 4 on the 2013 ELA exam:3% 7% 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?