P.S. 290 Manhattan New School

Grades K-5
Staff Pick
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What’s Special

Writing program that is a national model, commitment to collaboration and integrated learning

The Downside

Some space constraints, no full gym or auditorium

Our Review

At Manhattan New School, the best ideals of progressive education meet structure, experience and a true love of the craft of teaching. Tour the school, and you may see kindergartners squish blueberries as part of a study on pigment before moving seamlessly into a lesson on phonics; 4th-graders may study the Greek myth of the fallen hero Icarus and then design and build their own parachutes.

Kids are happy and engaged and staffers seem eager to go the extra mile, whether that means a weekly walk to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to supplement a social studies unit or working together on detailed plans to reach kids with different levels of skills in the same class. The quality of teaching is superb throughout, and teachers share an intellectual excitement about their work. Many staffers have written books that are used in university education courses.

MNS has long been known for its strong writing program and has a well-deserved reputation as one of the best schools in the city. Doreen Esposito, who became principal in 2014 after working at the school for 15 years as a teacher and assistant principal, is well-qualified to carry on its legacy. While she maintains a clear sense of continuity, she has also brought in fresh ideas—a practice that in and of itself is highly valued at MNS. “Reflection is a huge part of what we do here,” she said.

Under Esposito’s watch, the school has introduced Mindfulness Mondays, where 4th-graders lead 2nd-graders in meditation to ease the transition from the weekend. Another addition is a special "maker" room, filled with natural materials and recycled household products such as toilet paper tubes and yarn, where kids can tackle hands-on projects and learn teamwork. During our visit, a group of 4th-grade boys eagerly showed off their latest creation: a recycled robot that sprays seeds from its feet and water from its nose, tied to their study of sustainability in social studies.

In response to parents’ requests for more rigor in math instruction, the school has worked hard to make sure students have strong arithmetic skills as well as an understanding of underlying mathematical concepts. Posters about math strategies abound, as do small counters in all shapes and sizes across grades. We saw a class of 5th-graders get down on the floor with their teacher to tackle a particularly tricky fraction problem with small shapes, while another group converted milliliters to liters in their heads. A coach worked with teachers to hone instruction and supplement the math programs—a combination of the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Investigations curriculum and a City College program called Math in the City. Kids who excel may join Math Olympiad.

The parent body is extremely active both off and on campus. Last year, parents successfully petitioned to have a CitiBike station that was located next to the school moved, arguing that it was a safety hazard. On the day of our visit, we saw moms in the main office cutting out labels for the school auction, a fundraiser that supports extra programs like chess, the National Dance Institute and the Wingspan Theater. We also saw several part-time staffers who were former parents, including a choral and band instructor leading a group of vivacious 4th-graders and a dance teacher helping kindergartners get their wiggles out in the makeshift auditorium.

While the old building is charming and very well-kept, space is tight. Staffers make it work: The cafeteria doubles as a gym complete with brand new fold away tables and a basketball hoop, and 5th-graders have recess on a closed-off side street, while younger kids play in one of two enclosed side yards. Plans are in the works for a green roof, which will serve as both as an extra play space and a science center.

SPECIAL EDUCATION: There are ICT (integrated co-teaching) classes at every grade level, and a range of service providers work with children both in and out of the classroom.

ADMISSIONS: Zoned school. The school suffered from overcrowding for a number of years, but it has not had waitlists since the attendance zone was reduced a few years ago. Parent Coordinator Sally Mason encourages new families to move into the school's zone. (Aimee Sabo, March 2016)

About the students

Enrollment
592
Asian
10.8%
Black
2.2%
Hispanic
8.1%
White
72.3%
Other
6.6%
Free or reduced priced lunch
11%
Students with disabilities
13%
English language learners
4%

About the school

Shared campus?
No
This school is in its own building.
Metal detectors?
No
How crowded? (Full is 100%)
137%
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

Attendance

Average daily attendance
96%
94% Citywide Average
How many students are chronically absent?
5%
21% Citywide Average

Is this school safe?

How many teachers say order and discipline are maintained at this school?
100%
81% Citywide Average
How many teachers say their students are safe outside around this school?
100%
85% Citywide Average

About the leadership

Years of principal experience at this school
1.9
6.6 Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?
100%
80% Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal has a clear vision for this school?
97%
87% Citywide Average
How many teachers trust the principal?
100%
79% Citywide Average

About the teachers

How many teachers have 3 or more years of experience teaching?
85%
78% Citywide Average
Teacher attendance
97%
96% Citywide Average
How many teachers say they would recommend this school to other families?
100%
83% Citywide Average
How many teachers think the staff collaborate to make this school run effectively?
100%
87% Citywide Average

Do parents like the school?

How many parents responded to the school survey?
60%
64% Citywide Average
How many parents say they are invited to visit classrooms?
88%
85% Citywide Average
How many parents say this school offers enough courses, activities and services to keep their children interested in school?
95%
87% 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?
78%
40% Citywide Average
How many students scored 3-4 on the state ELA exam?
78%
39% Citywide Average

Arts offerings

This school has 2 dedicated spaces for Music and Visual arts
This school has 3 licensed arts teachers in Dance (part-time), Music, and Theater
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

How does this school serve English Language Learners?

How many former English language learners score 3-4 on the State ELA exam?
50%
22% 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
2.81
2.3 Citywide Average
Average ELA score for self-contained students
2.56
2.2 Citywide Average
Average ELA score for SETSS students
2.58
2.2 Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say this school offers enough activities and services for their children's needs?
93%
86% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say this school works to achive the goals of their students' IEPs?
95%
91% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say they are satisfied with the IEP development process at this school?
95%
89% Citywide Average
For more information about our data sources, see About Our Data
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