PS 126 Jacob August Riis/Manhattan Academy of Technology

Grades Pre-K, K-8
Staff Pick
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What’s Special

Strong academics and a wide array of sports

The Downside

PTA isn't as well-funded as some other District 2 schools

Our Review

A sweet, engaging place, PS 126/Manhattan Academy of Technology (MAT) is a combined elementary and middle school with strong academics, an impressive sports program and a dynamic community spirit.

The elementary school serves neighborhood children from Chinatown and the Lower East Side, representing a range of races and ethnicitiesincluding children from nearby housing projects and those from a homeless shelter that's just on the other side of the school's playground. It does a wonderful job teaching English to kids who speak Spanish or Chinese at home and works with two language consultants from CUNY. Kids were happy and well-behaved in every class we visited.

PS 126 is a place where teachers can perfect their craft, and in doing so they offer children of different backgrounds thoughtful, rigorous, progressive education. The level of teacher collaboration and planning is impressive. Reading, writing and science come together in an investigation of birds in 2nd grade, for example, and 5th-graders spend two months studying prairie ecosystems to support their Westward Expansion unit. The school uses Math in Focus, a Singapore-based math program, and a math consultant works with teachers, who also visit each other during math lessons to offer feedback.

The middle school, called MAT, is open to children from across District 2 and middle class parents from neighborhoods like Tribeca clamor for admission. Teachers excitement for their students progress is palpable and they do a good job giving extra help to the children who need it while offering a challenge to the top students, even though students arent grouped by ability. For example, a strong reader may be assigned a complex book about World War II, while a struggling reader may be assigned an easy onebut all can take part in the same class discussion. Eighth-graders may take the algebra and Earth science Regents exams. Most classes have two teachers. Teachers may work with a small group of students, or even one-on-one.

In a middle school history class, teachers and students brought the Jazz Age to life by creating their very own speakeasy with costumes, readings from Langston Hughes and F. Scott Fitzgerald, and even a bar serving root beer. Students are encouraged to engage in the city around them, starting the year off with a study of their own neighborhoods gentrification. After studying the history of nearby Catherine Street (the area was first a boat slip and then a popular public market), students petitioned local officials and worked with the Parks Department to have plaques installed in spring of 2016. Kids have even started their own website, LESyounghistorians.com.

PS 126 prizes the arts and has two art teachers and two music teachers that serve all grades. The music program is very strong and kids seemed to clearly enjoy the change of pace. On the day of our visit, we saw a music student from NYU leading 8th-graders in a lively warm up, using their own bodies as percussion instruments to work on rhythm and beat. In 6th grade, children choose to major either in visual art or band.

The physical education teacher, John DeMatteo, has assembled 51 teams in 27 sports to create the largest middle school sports program in the countryincluding exotic sports like surfing and more traditional ones like soccer and basketball. The fitness room has exercise bikes attached to video gamesmaking exercise fun even for kids who might otherwise prefer to be couch potatoes. Students are not cut from teams; instead, there is a range of levels for each sport and most middle schoolers participate. (DeMatteo also helped create the citys CHAMPS Middle School Sport and Fitness League and continues to oversee its management.)

The building, constructed in the 1970s, has wide, shiny corridors, clean white walls and doors trimmed in yellow, red, blue, lavender, green and purple. Large windows let in plenty of sunlight, and there are views of the Brooklyn Bridge just a few blocks away. A climbing wall (with fake rocks) on the back of the stage in the auditorium gives kids a fun way to build strength.

One possible downside: The PTA isnt as rich as at most District 2 schools, and cannot raise as much money for extras. Still, that hasnt stopped administration and teachers from securing an impressive array of programs and specialized equipment through grants and personal appeals to donors. In addition to a gazillion field trips, extras include chess and swimming.

A large proportion of graduates attend specialized high schools, including LaGuardia, and District 2 schools, such as Eleanor Roosevelt and Millennium. Beacon High School is also popular.

In fall 2016, Carlos Romero is set to head PS 126/MAT after having served as assistant principal of the middle school since 2004. He replaces seasoned administrator Jacqueline Getz, who called Romero's promotion "well-deserved." Getz announced she will spend the year planning a new District 2 Middle School on Morton Street opening in 2017.

SPECIAL EDUCATION: The school has long served children with a range of special education needs. The school offers ICT (integrated co-teaching) classes with two teachers, one of whom is certified in special education.

ADMISSIONS: Zoned elementary school. Fifth-graders from PS 126 get first priority to the middle school, but students from anywhere in District 2 may apply. (Clara Hemphill, October 2012 & Aimee Sabo, June 2016)

About the students

Enrollment
791
Pre-K seats
45
Asian
59.5%
Black
9.9%
Hispanic
20.1%
White
7.8%
Other
2.7%
Free or reduced priced lunch
79%
Students with disabilities
17%
English language learners
18%

About the school

Shared campus?
No
This school is in its own building.
Uniforms required?
No
Metal detectors?
No
How crowded? (Full is 100%)
87%
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

Attendance

Average daily attendance
97%
94% Citywide Average
How many students are chronically absent?
7%
19% Citywide Average

Is this school safe?

How many teachers say order and discipline are maintained at this school?
96%
75% Citywide Average
How many students think bullying happens most or all of the time at this school?
11%
25% Citywide Average
How many students say they feel safe in the hallways, bathrooms and locker rooms?
93%
85% Citywide Average
How many teachers say their students are safe outside around this school?
89%
84% Citywide Average
How many students say most students treat each other with respect?
67%
46% 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?
100%
79% Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal has a clear vision for this school?
96%
86% Citywide Average
How many teachers trust the principal?
98%
79% Citywide Average

About the teachers

How many teachers have 3 or more years of experience teaching?
91%
78% Citywide Average
Teacher attendance
96%
96% Citywide Average
How many teachers say they would recommend this school to other families?
100%
79% Citywide Average
How many teachers think the staff collaborate to make this school run effectively?
100%
85% Citywide Average

Do parents like the school?

How many parents responded to the school survey?
42%
59% Citywide Average
How many parents say they are invited to visit classrooms?
82%
79% Citywide Average
How many parents say this school offers enough courses, activities and services to keep their children interested in school?
96%
84% 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?
100%
88% Citywide Average
How many Pre-K parents say their child's teacher gave helpful ideas for how to support their child's learning?
100%
95% 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?
67%
39% Citywide Average
How many students scored 3-4 on the state ELA exam?
56%
40% Citywide Average

Arts offerings

This school has 5 dedicated spaces for Music, Visual arts, and an Auditorium
This school has 3 licensed arts teachers in Music and Theater

Engaging curriculum?

How many students say this school offers enough programs, classes and activities to keep them interested?
95%
72% Citywide Average
How many students say they are challenged in most or all of their classes?
48%
55% Citywide Average
How many students say the programs, classes and activities here encourage them to develop talent outside academics?
89%
70% Citywide Average

Are students prepared for high school?

Accelerated courses offered for high school credit
Algebra I, Earth Science
How many 8th graders earn high school credit?
92%
28% Citywide Average
How many graduates of this school pass all their classes in 9th grade?
91%
87% Citywide Average
What high schools do most graduates attend?
Millennium HS, Brooklyn Technical HS, and Richard R. Green HS of Teaching
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

How does this school serve English Language Learners?

This school offers Transitional Bilingual Education in Chinese.
How many English language learners score 3-4 on the State ELA exam?
18%
7% Citywide Average
How many former English language learners score 3-4 on the State ELA exam?
48%
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 self-contained students
2.34
2.2 Citywide Average
Average ELA score for self-contained students
2.3
2.2 Citywide Average
Average math score for SETSS students
2.57
2.3 Citywide Average
Average ELA score for SETSS students
2.43
2.3 Citywide Average
How many students say that students with disabilities are included in all activities?
64%
69% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say this school offers enough activities and services for their children's needs?
92%
84% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say this school works to achive the goals of their students' IEPs?
96%
89% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say they are satisfied with the IEP development process at this school?
89%
87% Citywide Average
For more information about our data sources, see About Our Data
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