P.S. 184 Shuang Wen

Grades Pre-K, K-8
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What’s Special

Dual language program in Mandarin and English

The Downside

Recovering from internal battles

Our Review

Shuang Wen has long been a top-scoring school serving primarily Asian families who want their children to be fluent in both English and Mandarin. Under new leadership, the school has become more welcoming to non-Asian children who want to learn Mandarin.

Under the previous administration, children learned English during the regular school day and Mandarin in an afterschool program, for which there is a fee. The new principal, Iris Chiu, has put in place classes that alternate instruction in Mandarin and English during the day, so that children who do not attend the afterschool still have a chance to learn the language.

A "success story" for years, this popular school has long boasted high test scores and excellent admissions into selective high schools. The school has marshaled significant resources for a huge library, two science labs, a beautiful dance studio and an abundance of computers.

But suspicions surfaced that the former administration was hand-picking students in what was supposed to be a district-wide lottery. The concerns were highlighted by the fact that year after year, the population of the school failed to reflect the racial make-up of the district. PS 184 is directly across the street from a public housing complex where the majority of residents are African-American. "A lot of people just assumed it was a private school," said one community leader, "because they saw limousines dropping kids off and mostly Asian kids going in."

The Department of Education eventually uncovered 16 substantiated allegations of misconduct by former principal, Ling Ling Chou, according to DNAinfo. The DOE has filed charges to have her license removed. Chou was charged with manipulating the attendance rate and admitting students improperly in favor of Asian families.

Chiu, the new principal, joined the fray in 2011 at the height of the controversy and took the brunt of anger from parents who sided with the former principal. She has not taken the on-going protests - and even the death threats she has received - personally: Parents were angry because of the sudden change, she said. They needed an outlet for their anger. I know its not about me. I feel for the community. Its precious to have a good school in a community.

Fortunately, Chiu has had experience working in lightening-rod positions before, most notably as the assistant principal of guidance at Lafayette High School during a time when the school drew lawsuits over bullying of Asian-American students by African-Americans. Chiu used the arts to integrate the student body. Harmony can only be built through relationships, she said. Through true interactions. Not in segregated classes. At PS 184 she and her staff have adopted a conflict resolution program to help kids learn talk to each other about differences as the student body becomes more integrated.

Determined to make the school stronger, Chiu has poured money into professional development for her teachers, many of whom are licensed bilingual teachers. One of the most positive changes, according to a parent, is the emphasis on grammar and writing. The walls are filled with writing samples in both Chinese and English, and in both languages children sounds out words phonetically to express their ideas and then work towards mastery of conventional spelling as they gain skills.

Ideally, a dual language program is a 50/50 split of children who are dominant in each language but the majority here are still native Mandarin speakers. On our visit we counted about 3-5 non-Asian students in each dual language classroom.

There is on-going friction between the administration and Shuang Wen Academy Network (SWAN), which offers Mandarin classes after school for a fee. The program was always meant to be optional, but under the former principal it was not. Although fewer families participate in the $1,200 a year program because they are learning Mandarin in the dual language classes, it continues to occupy every classroom after-school, so there is no space for the free Asian-themed arts classes Chiu wants to offer including Chinese dance and Shadow Box Theater.

Special education: Staffers mix some of the brightest children in general education with those who have special needs in team-taught classes.

Admissions: Lottery conducted by the Department of Education with a strictly enforced District 1 priority and sibling preference. (Lydie Raschka, October 2013)

About the students

Enrollment
672
Pre-K seats
36
Asian
69.6%
Black
4.5%
Hispanic
12.0%
White
8.5%
Other
5.4%
Free or reduced priced lunch
68%
Students with disabilities
19%
English language learners
16%

About the school

Shared campus?
No
This school is in its own building.
Uniforms required?
Yes
Metal detectors?
No
How crowded? (Full is 100%)
83%
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

Attendance

Average daily attendance
98%
94% Citywide Average
How many students are chronically absent?
3%
19% Citywide Average

Is this school safe?

How many teachers say order and discipline are maintained at this school?
76%
76% Citywide Average
How many students think bullying happens most or all of the time at this school?
46%
50% Citywide Average
How many students say they feel safe in the hallways, bathrooms and locker rooms?
88%
84% Citywide Average
How many teachers say their students are safe outside around this school?
100%
88% Citywide Average
How many students say most students treat each other with respect?
50%
45% Citywide Average

About the leadership

Years of principal experience at this school
5.0
6.4 Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?
64%
81% Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal has a clear vision for this school?
68%
87% Citywide Average
How many teachers trust the principal?
42%
81% Citywide Average

About the teachers

How many teachers have 3 or more years of experience teaching?
40%
78% Citywide Average
Teacher attendance
97%
96% Citywide Average
How many teachers say they would recommend this school to other families?
79%
82% Citywide Average
How many teachers think the staff collaborate to make this school run effectively?
73%
86% Citywide Average

Do parents like the school?

How many parents responded to the school survey?
74%
60% Citywide Average
How many parents say they are invited to visit classrooms?
64%
78% Citywide Average
How many parents say this school offers enough courses, activities and services to keep their children interested in school?
72%
82% Citywide Average
How many parents say their child's teacher helped their child adjust to Pre-K?
100%
97% Citywide Average
How many parents say this Pre-K program helped them consider which elementary schools would meet their childrens' needs?
77%
91% Citywide Average
How many Pre-K parents say their child's teacher gave helpful ideas for how to support their child's learning?
90%
96% Citywide Average
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

Test scores

How many students scored 3-4 on the state math exam?
80%
39% Citywide Average
How many students scored 3-4 on the state ELA exam?
63%
39% Citywide Average

Arts offerings

This school has 4 dedicated spaces for Dance, Music, Visual arts, and Media arts
This school has 2 licensed arts teacher in Dance and Theater

Engaging curriculum?

How many students say this school offers enough programs, classes and activities to keep them interested?
50%
71% Citywide Average
How many students say they are challenged in most or all of their classes?
58%
59% Citywide Average
How many students say the programs, classes and activities here encourage them to develop talent outside academics?
52%
68% Citywide Average

Are students prepared for high school?

Accelerated courses offered for high school credit
Algebra I
How many 8th graders earn high school credit?
82%
28% Citywide Average
How many graduates of this school pass all their classes in 9th grade?
98%
86% Citywide Average
What high schools do most graduates attend?
Stuyvesant HS, Millennium HS, and Fiorello H. LaGuardia HS of Music & Art and Performing Arts
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

How does this school serve English Language Learners?

This school offers Dual Language classes in Chinese.
How many English language learners score 3-4 on the State ELA exam?
19%
7% Citywide Average
How many former English language learners score 3-4 on the State ELA exam?
83%
18% Citywide Average

How does this school serve students with disabilities?

This school offers self-contained classes
This school offers team teaching (ICT)
Average math score for ICT students
1.74
1.9 Citywide Average
Average math score for self-contained students
3.13
2.2 Citywide Average
Average ELA score for ICT students
1.88
1.9 Citywide Average
Average ELA score for self-contained students
2.66
2.2 Citywide Average
Average math score for SETSS students
3.26
2.3 Citywide Average
Average ELA score for SETSS students
3.06
2.3 Citywide Average
How many students say that students with disabilities are included in all activities?
55%
69% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say this school offers enough activities and services for their children's needs?
85%
85% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say this school works to achive the goals of their students' IEPs?
95%
90% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say they are satisfied with the IEP development process at this school?
91%
88% Citywide Average
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