P.S. 216 Arturo Toscanini

Phone: (718) 645-2862
Admissions: Neighborhood school
Neighborhood: Flatlands/ Gravesend
District: 21
Grade range: 0K thru 05
Parent coordinator: Helene Selter

What's special:

Nurturing school where teaching is tailored to help kids of different skill levels

The downside:

Social studies program could be stronger

The InsideStats



Our review

PS 216 is a warm school, and teachers are nurturing. At the same time, the school emphasizes respect and good behavior. A dress code -- black pants and white shirts -- is in place, and teachers are asked to incorporate a "value of the week" into lessons. PS 216 has strong test scores, the result of solid instruction, it seems, rather than heavy test preparation.

The school has a class of high achievers in each grade, as well standard classes. Soffer says this enables the school to keep students who might otherwise leave for the district's Sigma gifted programs, while also allowing it to create smaller classes for kids who need extra help. In one such class, third-graders with weak math skills had been pulled out of their regular classrooms and were receiving a lot of individual attention from their teacher. They were practicing addition and subtraction using dominoes. Students who need to boost reading and writing skills are also pulled out of their general classrooms for help in small classes. And in general, teachers target instruction at the different skill levels of students. A first grade class we saw, for example, was divided into two reading groups.

Throughout the school, including the three self-contained special education classrooms, we saw a firm focus on reading and writing. In the past, the school has used the CIMS program, a traditional program that uses scripted lessons, which one parent we talked to found less than adequate. In 2003, PS 216 adopted the "Everyday Math" program, a more hands-on, cooperative approach that is part of the chancellor's new standardized curriculum. The school chose to switch to "Everyday Math" despite being one of the 209 schools exempt from the citywide curriculum because of its high test scores. The school has a shiny new dance studio, where special education students were doing interpretive dances with hula-hoops. In addition, there is a newly refurbished library, a nice art room, and a technology lab. The school has a full time gym teacher, a band and a chorus.

(Deborah Apsel, 2003)

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