P.S. 106 Parkchester

2120 ST RAYMOND'S AVENUE
BRONX NY 10462 Map
Phone: (718) 892-1006
Website: Click here
Admissions: Neighborhood school
Principal: EUGENIA MONTALVO
Neighborhood: Parkchester
District: 11
Grade range: 0K thru 05
Parent coordinator: CATHERIN ACOSTA

What's special:

Impressive math and science scores; a staff that does well at teaching very full classrooms.

The downside:

Reading scores consistently lower than other subject areas.

The InsideStats

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http://insideschools.org/


Our review

PS 106, which in years past has had a student body well over twice its capacity, is finally starting to see relief. Fifth grade, now part of middle school programming, has been discontinued, and re-zoning has brought numbers down further. Still, this school is very full. There are 25 children in kindergarten classes and 34 in each 4th grade classroom. Children take physical education once a week, but must do so in "double gym," meaning that up to 68 children may be in phys ed class at the same time. There are several temporary buildings in the schoolyard, and the school has lost many of its specialty classrooms to regular classroom space. The "laptop room," where children develop technology skills on 34 laptop computers, is housed in what one administrator rightly calls a "cubicle." When children need English language assistance or special education services, they often stay in their regular classroom for the help, with special- and general education classes running concurrently in the same crowded space.

While this situation is far from ideal, students and staff seem to make the best of it. On the day of our visit, 1st graders, who use the smaller temporary classrooms, were divided into two groups. One listened to a story read aloud by the primary classroom teacher; the other group, with about eight children, sat only feet away and discussed a reading passage in Spanish with the English as a Second Language teacher. Both teachers and students were remarkably focused, although Principal Eugenia Montalvo acknowledges that it takes weeks or even months at the beginning of each school year for everyone to get adjusted to such a busy classroom environment. We also visited several of the heavily enrolled 4th grade classes. In one, a math specialist was teaching an attentive group of children about triangles by projecting several kitchen designs on an overhead screen and discussing varying placements of the sink, stove, and refrigerator. In another room, students enthusiastically answered questions about mode, median, and average, and students next door were working on haikus entitled "Me." In each case, the teaching staff seemed to do a good job of engaging these large groups, and the children seemed as well behaved as they might be in a classroom of 25, if not more so. Even so, with classes this large, it seems inevitable that each child receives less individual attention.

Students at PS 106 score well on math and science standardized tests. In 2003 - 2004, 83 percent of 4th grade students scored at or above grade level on the state math test (compared to 69 percent citywide), while 84 percent of 4th grade students scored at or above grade level in science (compared to 61 percent citywide). Reading scores are significantly lower, however, with the school rarely seeing more than 50 percent of its students meeting or exceeding state standards. Montalvo attributes the healthy math performance to a historically strong math program that used the "Everyday Math" curriculum, now required by the city in most schools, before it became the city standard. By contrast, the reading program has gone through many curriculum changes -- with different grades using different methods -- in recent years. In the 2005 - 2006 school year, the school will introduce another new reading program, but one that will be used school-wide and that the administration hopes can provide the necessary consistency and skills to help children move ahead.

The diverse Parkchester community in which the school is situated is populated by working- and middle class families, including many immigrants from the West Indies, Latin American countries, and Pakistan. According to Montalvo, many of the school's students begin formal schooling for the first time at the age of eight or even older. To address their needs, the school in 2004 -- 2005 began a Saturday Academy providing academic help, test prep, and English language assistance for 400 children. Parents may take English as a Second Language classes while their children attend the program.

The hallways of the main school building are beautifully and professionally decorated with murals of favorite characters from Dr. Seuss books and other popular children's literature. The school building is clean and orderly. We saw one bulletin board showing letters that children had written to a teacher's fiancé, a soldier stationed in Iraq.

After-school: In 2004 - 2005, the school offered limited test prep and a YMCA program that charges parents a fee.

Special education: The school has "self-contained" classrooms, that is, classes only for students with special needs. It also provides services as needed to general education students. (Melanie Acevedo, April 2005)

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