P.S. 81 Robert J. Christen

Grades K-5
Staff Pick
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What’s Special

An emphasis on citizenship, beautiful campus

The Downside

No pre-k; lacks separate music, art and science rooms

Our Review

Housed in a stately 1925 Georgian structure in the northernmost corner of Riverdale, PS 81 has a respectful, unified tone; well-structured lessons; and consistency throughout the building.

Safe, predictable routines seem particularly beneficial for calming anxious children. In a happy, well-run kindergarten class, for instance, a teacher put one such child in charge of starting the timer for reading time, and the child took on this role with pride and responsibility.

Fifth graders serve as big brothers and sisters to younger students. When children stand to recite Shakespeare some speak with Russian, Dominican or Pakistani inflections, a fact this community celebrates. There are classes in dance, visual art, music and drama.

PS 81's test scores indicate roughly half the students meet or exceed state academic standardsa very respectable showing especially compared to other Bronx schools. Still, city Education Department evaluations of the school cite slightly below-average student progress compared to similar schools.

Many teachers have years of experience but at the time of our visit more than half a dozen were new, including several Manhattan College graduates who had worked as student teachers at PS 81. A young teacher said she feels like a fully contributing member of the staff. "We get heard just as equally," she said.

Principal Anna Kirrane was assistant principal at PS 81 for nine years before taking over in October 2012. She arrives at 6:30 am each day to be available to anyone with concerns, and takes the time to greet parents who drop by. Kirrane attended boarding school in Ireland as a girl, and is of Irish heritage. She urges all parents to "share your rich heritage with your child."

After a year of getting to know children, teachers select 25 to 30 kindergartners for placement in the school's accelerated program, which begins in 1st grade. The make-up of the class is determined by reading levels, as well as "work ethic and ability to move forward," said Kirrane. Students usually work a grade ahead and a child must keep up with the work to remain in these classes.

There are no separate music, art or science rooms but there are two full-time art teachers (visual art and music/drama), and the children study dance, visual art, music and drama in a series of arts residencies throughout the grades.

SPECIAL EDUCATION: Each grade features at least one team-teaching classroom, where students with special needs are taught alongside peers in general education. The school has three small "self-contained" classrooms for children with special needs only.

ADMISSIONS: Zoned, neighborhood school. (Lydie Raschka, May 2016; updated August 2016)

About the students

Enrollment
740
Asian
6.6%
Black
7.7%
Hispanic
53.9%
White
28.1%
Other
3.7%
Free or reduced priced lunch
46%
Students with disabilities
17%
English language learners
9%

About the school

Shared campus?
No
This school is in its own building.
How crowded? (Full is 100%)
134%
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

Attendance

Average daily attendance
94%
94% Citywide Average
How many students are chronically absent?
18%
21% Citywide Average

Is this school safe?

How many teachers say order and discipline are maintained at this school?
98%
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
3.8
6.6 Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?
96%
80% Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal has a clear vision for this school?
100%
87% Citywide Average
How many teachers trust the principal?
96%
79% Citywide Average

About the teachers

How many teachers have 3 or more years of experience teaching?
74%
78% Citywide Average
Teacher attendance
97%
96% Citywide Average
How many teachers say they would recommend this school to other families?
98%
83% Citywide Average
How many teachers think the staff collaborate to make this school run effectively?
98%
87% Citywide Average

Do parents like the school?

How many parents responded to the school survey?
99%
64% Citywide Average
How many parents say they are invited to visit classrooms?
85%
85% Citywide Average
How many parents say this school offers enough courses, activities and services to keep their children interested in school?
88%
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?
64%
40% Citywide Average
How many students scored 3-4 on the state ELA exam?
61%
39% Citywide Average

Arts offerings

This school has 0 dedicated spaces for the arts.
This school has 0 licensed arts teachers in Dance, Music, Theater or Visual arts
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

How does this school serve English Language Learners?

How many English language learners score 3-4 on the State ELA exam?
14%
10% Citywide Average
How many former English language learners score 3-4 on the State ELA exam?
29%
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
2.89
2.3 Citywide Average
Average ELA score for self-contained students
2.5
2.2 Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say this school offers enough activities and services for their children's needs?
87%
86% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say this school works to achive the goals of their students' IEPs?
89%
91% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say they are satisfied with the IEP development process at this school?
86%
89% Citywide Average
For more information about our data sources, see About Our Data
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