Brooklyn Brownstone School, PS 628

Grades Pre-K, K-5
Staff Pick
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Location

272 Macdonough Street
Brooklyn NY 11233
Bedford-Stuyvesant (District 16)
Trains: A, C to Utica Ave
Buses: B15, B25, B26, B43, B46, B52, B65

Contact

Phone
718-573-2307
Principal
Nakia Haskins
Parent Coordinator
Shawn Gibbs

What’s Special

Involved parents, high expectations, small class size

The Downside

Some may think there's too much pressure on children

Our Review

Strict rules of conduct, tons of homework and a no-nonsense atmosphere make Brooklyn Brownstone School seem like many parents idea of a charter school. But Brooklyn Brownstone, opened in 2008, is an ordinary public school open to children citywide.

Created by parents who wanted a high-quality option in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn Brownstone has a dedicated staff, a structured curriculum, and classes with about 20 students each. Students are assigned about 1-1/2 hours of homework each night, including a required 20 minutes of readingfar more than is typical at this age. They are rated on their behavior every day, with the results sent home.

Teachers are expected to respond quickly to parent concerns and, according to a PTA leader, they do. "Teachers are very involved," she says.

For their part, parents are supposed to check homework every night and support the school's code of conduct. Many volunteer. "It's a very community school," the PTA leader told us. "It's not like you drop your kid off and go away." The active PTA runs a fee-based afterschool program.

Founding Principal Nakia Haskins, a Teach for America alumnus who also help start Girl Prep Charter School in Manhattan, greets children entering the school each morning. Parents give her high marks as a hands-on leader.

In some respects, the school is very traditional, with uniforms, phonics drills, and some desks in rows. At the same time, each class has a field trip at least once a month and all students take either music or visual art every day. On the day of our visit, the art teacher told a pre-K class about color value -- how light or dark a color is. "When you start young you can achieve a lot more later," he told us. All students learn to read music.

Generally the students seem involved. In a pre-K class hands eagerly shot up to discuss ways to get rid of the famous stains in "The Cat in the Hat." And kindergartners worked intently to label their bean plants under supervision of an instructor from the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, one of Brooklyn Brownstone's many partners.

While some might think the school puts too much pressure on children, parents seem to love it. Parents give the teachers high marks and praise the school's high expectations, according to the Learning Environment Survey. Test scores were only average in its early years, but Haskins said Brooklyn Brownstone changed its math curriculum, introduced more nonfiction readings and made other moves to help students perform better on standardized tests. In 2014 Brooklyn Brownstone students posted major gains, prompting Mayor Bill de Blasio to hold the press conference where he announced the citywide results at the school with the principal at his side. "This school is doing a lot of things right," de Blasio said.

Slightly more than 44 percent of Brooklyn Brownstone students scored proficient -- meaning they got a level 3 or 4 -- on the state English Language Arts test. This was substantially above the citywide average of 29.4 and a sharp increase from Brooklyn Brownstone's 2013 result. The picture was similar in math, with 36.8 percent of students at the Bedford-Stuyvesant school getting a 3 or 4, up from 20.3 percent in 2013. Third and fourth graders accounted for the gains.

Brooklyn Brownstone shares a building with MS 35 Stephen Decatur and a District 75 program for students with disabilities. Brooklyn Brownstone students enter and leave the building through their own exit in the back and have little contact with children at the other schools.

Special education: The school has limited special education services. It offers Special Education Teacher Support Services (SETTS), but does not have self-contained or team teaching classes.

Admissions: Although the school is open to children citywide, preference is given to District 16 residents, siblings of current students and families who take a tour. Check the website for tour dates and an application. (Gail Robinson, March 2013; updated August 2014)

About the students

Enrollment
244
Pre-K seats
36
Asian
0.4%
Black
74.6%
Hispanic
11.5%
White
11.5%
Other
2.1%
Free or reduced priced lunch
67%
Students with disabilities
14%
English language learners
0%

About the school

Shared campus?
Yes
This school shares the building with MS 35
How crowded? (Full is 100%)
95%
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?
19%
21% Citywide Average

Is this school safe?

How many teachers say order and discipline are maintained at this school?
100%
82% Citywide Average
How many teachers say their students are safe outside around this school?
100%
88% Citywide Average

About the leadership

Years of principal experience at this school
8.0
6.6 Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?
100%
82% Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal has a clear vision for this school?
100%
90% Citywide Average
How many teachers trust the principal?
100%
82% Citywide Average

About the teachers

How many teachers have 3 or more years of experience teaching?
92%
78% Citywide Average
Teacher attendance
99%
96% Citywide Average
How many teachers say they would recommend this school to other families?
100%
85% Citywide Average
How many teachers think the staff collaborate to make this school run effectively?
100%
89% Citywide Average

Do parents like the school?

How many parents responded to the school survey?
95%
65% Citywide Average
How many parents say they are invited to visit classrooms?
87%
85% Citywide Average
How many parents say this school offers enough courses, activities and services to keep their children interested in school?
88%
86% Citywide Average
How many parents say their child's teacher helped their child adjust to Pre-K?
100%
98% Citywide Average
How many parents say this Pre-K program helped them consider which elementary schools would meet their childrens' needs?
93%
92% Citywide Average
How many Pre-K parents say their child's teacher gave helpful ideas for how to support their child's learning?
100%
97% 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?
32%
43% Citywide Average
How many students scored 3-4 on the state ELA exam?
51%
42% Citywide Average

Arts offerings

This school has 3 dedicated spaces for Music, Theater, and Visual arts
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the 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 SETSS students
2.64
2.8 Citywide Average
Average ELA score for SETSS students
2.16
2.2 Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say this school offers enough activities and services for their children's needs?
70%
86% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say this school works to achive the goals of their students' IEPs?
80%
91% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say they are satisfied with the IEP development process at this school?
79%
89% Citywide Average
For more information about our data sources, see About Our Data
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