P.S. 34 Franklin D. Roosevelt

730 EAST 12 STREET
MANHATTAN NY 10009 Map
Phone: (212) 228-4433
Website: Click here
Admissions: District 1
unzoned
Principal: Rosemarie Gonzalez
Neighborhood: East Village
District: 1
Grade range: PK thru 08
Parent coordinator: IVETTE CINTRON

What's special:

Test scores slowly improving.

The downside:

Not many non-academic activities.

The Inside Stats

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Our review

Our visit to PS 34 began with a springtime assembly filled with the sounds of children singing and playing recorders. So many families attended the event that the audience spilled out from the auditorium into the hallway beyond. Parents and relatives beamed, and the children were excited about their performance. The scene was in part the product of an Annenberg Foundation grant that has enabled PS 34 to put a fulltime music teacher on staff and to prompt plans to integrate music into the general curriculum.

Test scores at PS 34 are hardly stratospheric but they are getting higher, so much so that the school appeared on the 2002 New York State list of most improved schools. The strategy appears to be constant assessment. For starters, kids are tested yearly so teachers can determine who is struggling and should be referred to the school's extra help programs in reading and math. In the classroom, there is much assessment, too. Students maintain collections of their work in portfolios that are filled with teacher evaluations, self-critiques, and multiple revisions of writing. The portfolios are a kind of history of the students' progress and follow the children to the next grade and teacher. At times, it seems there is so much attention paid to raising test scores that there is little left for anything else. In particular, there aren't many options for kids who want extracurricular activities.

In English language arts classes, we were impressed with students' comfort in speaking up. In math, we saw a mixture of traditional memorization methods and more progressive approaches emphasizing problem solving. Kids were drilled in multiplication and marked tests were displayed in classrooms. At the same time, students work together to figure out such things as how much time is needed to bake a turkey for Thanksgiving. Teachers use the "Japanese lesson study" method in planning a group of instructors works together to draw up lesson plans, teachers then use the plans in class while their peers observe, and later the group discusses the lesson's strengths and shortcomings.

Special Education: PS 34 has two self-contained classes for the learning disabled, which seemed to work well. One boy was able to tell us in detail what he had learned in a science class. Outside the room, we saw reports on how to cook a recipe, complete with drafts and self-evaluations. (Catherine Man, March 2003)

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