P.S. 217 Colonel David Marcus School

An Insideschools pick
1100 NEWKIRK AVENUE
BROOKLYN NY 11230 Map
Phone: (718) 434-6960
Website: Click here
Admissions: Neighborhood school
Principal: Franca Conti
Neighborhood: Flatbush
District: 22
Grade range: PK-5
Parent Coordinator: LIANA DUBOVICI
Number of full-day PK seats: 54
Extended PK hours offered: No
Zoned
Wheelchair Accessible
Full Day
School-based pre-k

What's special:

Terrific arts programs, welcoming to all parents

The downside:

Class sizes can get large

InsideSchools Review

Our review:

Once called "mini-Pakistan," this part of Brooklyn's Flatbush neighborhood is now a kaleidoscope of ethnicities and incomes, the happy outcome of a wide range of housing options in very close proximity. PS 217 sits at a jaunty angle like a beloved landmark in a small town square, amidst gracious Victorian homes, plain brick co-ops and double-wide duplexes. Hair salons, laundromats, grocery stores and upscale eateries serve a polyglot community that works the entire spectrum of jobs and professions.

The school is large, peaceful and offers an array of arts that allow kids to shine in many ways, whether it's singing the lead in the school musical, playing guitar or sewing a drawstring bag. The school is led by Principal Franca Conti, who keeps a close eye on academic progress and prefers her staffers to dress "in a professional manner," but, in practice, graciously accepts the jeans-wearers, too. Classes are large—we counted up to 29 in one of the upper grades—yet orderly and buzzing with cheerful and curious children.

The arts program is one of the school's finest features and culminates in dance and music festivals, a poetry slam, an art fair and theater performances. Although it is a school that serves many low-income families, it also attracts the children of business professionals who contribute money for the arts. Parents contribute talents by leading clubs on Friday afternoons such as filmmaking, gardening or Arabic. Kids meet in weekly arts clubs in grades 4 and 5 and several collaborate on two yearly theatrical productions such as an adaptation of The Odyssey or a production of The Little Mermaid in full costume.

The school was a pioneer in mixing children who are learning English into general classrooms, with two teachers. There is an "eagle" program for high-achievers, which is not an official city G&T (gifted and talented) program, but one that allows the school more flexibility, the principal said. A child may move into the eagle class as late as 5th grade, for example, which is not a practice in the city's G&T programs.

"We're always kid-watching," said Magnet Coordinator Judy Brandwein. "We want to celebrate every child." This includes dental and eye screening, birthday celebrations and close attention to kids who are struggling academically. "We look really closely at data, especially the bottom third [on state test scores]," and children learning English, said the principal.

In an effort to include more non-native English-speaking parents in classroom activities, the school has tapped parent leaders from each of the largest parent language groups, such as Russian, Arabic, Bengali and Spanish, to serve as translators. These leaders are available one morning a week for translation and to lead craft or learning activities.

The parent who coordinates the program has found that little changes make a big difference in parent involvement. For example, some parents were deterred by a "no strollers inside the building" rule, because they had to wake up their babies to go inside, so the school set out to change the rule. When a Nepali translator invited parents in on Friday mornings, she learned Nepali nail salon workers would miss out on their busiest day of the week, so she switched the day.

At the end of the 2014–15 school year, more than a dozen teachers left for various, classic reasons teachers leave, including retirement, illness, moving closer to home, but also, in some cases, because they weren't up to the principal's standards. "I'm demanding," Conti said matter-of-factly. "Teachers here work very hard." However, she said that she makes a special effort to listen to teachers. Teachers adopted the GoMath curriculum (with adaptations), for example, even though the principal at first preferred the Envision curriculum.

SPECIAL EDUCATION: Every grade has a team-teaching class that incorporates children with disabilities. There are two small mixed-age classes for children who need additional help. "Eagle" classroom placement is based on observations, assessments and classroom work.

ADMISSIONS: Zoned, neighborhood school. There are usually some spots for children outside the zone. (Lydie Raschka, April 2016)

InsideStats

Click tabs above to see school stats

At a glance

Shared campus? No

This school is in its own building.

Number of Students 1214

Average Daily Attendance 94%

Students at this school

Asian

  
49%

Black

  
11%

Hispanic

  
19%

White

  
19%

Free Lunch

  
100%

Special ed

  
14%

English Language Learners

  
23%

Safety & vibe

ARE KIDS
NICE?

How many teachers say bullying is a problem at school?

6% 17% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many teachers say order and discipline are maintained in the school?

95% 86% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

ARE CLASSES BIG?

Number of students in an average kindergarten class

24 23 CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Number of students in an average fifth grade class

28 26 CITYWIDE AVERAGE

DO TEACHERS LIKE THE SCHOOL?

How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?

74% 84% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many teachers would recommend this school to other parents?

86% 87% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Attendance

How many students are chronically absent?

15% 22% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Academics

How many teachers say this school offers enough programs, classes and activities to keep students engaged?

97% 84% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many teachers say this school does a good job teaching social-emotional skills?

84% 85% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many teachers say this school does a good job teaching organizational and study skills?

94% 91% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Percent of 3rd, 4th & 5th graders who scored 3 or 4 on the state math exam

46% 39% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Percent of 3rd, 4th & 5th graders who scored 3 or 4 on the state ela exam

39% 30% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Percent of 4th graders who scored 3 or 4 on the state science exam

94% 82% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Parents

Are parents involved?

How many parents responded to the school survey?

57% 63% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many parents say they attended at least one pta meeting in the last school year?

71% 72% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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?

68% 75% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Do parents like the school?

How many parents would recommend this school to other parents?

95% 94% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Special ed & ELL

How well does this school serve students with disabilities?

Percent of self-contained students who scored 3 or 4 on the state math exam:

19% 8% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Percent of self-contained students who scored 3 or 4 on the state ELA exam:

19% 2% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Percent of ICT students who scored 3 or 4 on the state math exam:

19% 19% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Percent of ICT students who scored 3 or 4 on the state ELA exam:

11% 9% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Percent of SETSS students who scored 3 or 4 on the state math exam:

13% 17% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Percent of SETSS students who scored 3 or 4 on the state ELA exam:

6% 9% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many parents say students with disabilities are included in all activities?

98% 98% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many teachers say students with special needs are educated in the least restrictive environment appropriate?

100% 94% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many parents of students with ieps say this school offers a wide enough variety of services and activities for their children’s needs?

84% 89% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How well does this school serve English language learners?

Percent of ell students who scored 3 or 4 on the state ELA exam:

6% 6% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Percent of former ell students who scored 3 or 4 on the state ELA exam:

19% 28% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many teachers say this school ensures that ells receive the same curriculum as non-ells with appropriate suppports?

97% 90% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Comments

Please post comments

  • Give specific examples. Tell us why this school rocks (or doesn't)
  • No profanity. No racial or ethnic slurs. No personal attacks
  • Criticism is fine but don't be nasty.
  • Flag inappropriate comments. (Hover your cursor over comments to see flag)