P.S. 770 New American Academy

Grades Pre-K, K-5
Staff Pick
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Location

60 East 94 Street
Brooklyn NY 11212
Flatbush (District 17)
Trains: 4 to Crown Hts - Utica Ave; 3 to Sutter Ave - Rutland Road
Buses: B12, B14, B15, B17, B45, B46, B47, B65

Contact

Phone
718-221-5837
Principal
Jessica Saratovsky
Parent Coordinator
Deneice Laforest

What’s Special

Innovative classroom structure allows for in-depth exploration on one topic

The Downside

Success depends on teachers' skill in managing new lessons each year

Our Review

Taking inspiration from Waldorf education, and the open classrooms of the 1970s, teachers at the New American Academy remain with students from kindergarten through 5th grade, and work in teams of up to four, with about 60 students, in large open rooms. Other features at this unusual progressive school include no homework, outdoor recess in all weather, and science projects that include solar ovens made out of pizza boxes and designing structures for baby chicks. Lessons follow six-week-long themes on topics like Ancient Egypt or electricity.

Teachers stay with students in one room as they move through the grades, which means they manage the same kids, but at a new developmental level, and must learn all new lessons. Master teachers in each classroom earn the same six-figure salary the principal earns, a practice made possible because the school does not hire deans or assistant principals. The master teachers coordinate and mentor their own small teams of apprentice teachers. "That's kind of the strength and the vulnerability," said a parent, adding that her child's team is effective.

There are three staff members still in place here since the school's 2010 founding by Harvard-educated Shimon Waronker,who remains involved as an advisor. A few left to teach at one of two additional New American Academy schools. Former kindergarten teacher Jessica Saratovsky became principal in 2014. A longtime 1st-grade teacher at PS 33 in Manhattan, she has recruited several former colleagues.

Teachers plan lessons during a 90-minute morning meeting while children eat breakfast and exercise in other parts of the building with support staff. Then 60 children filter into one large room and divide up for lessons. "My one worry was the size of the class," said a father who works in TV sound production. "But it works so well. The kids help each other out."

The relaxed and positive atmosphere is a draw for parents. "What I see here is empathy," said a 4th-grade parent. "Everybody knows each other." One mother who moved her son to the school in 3rd-grade has been particularly pleased with the school's emphasis on positive feedback to parents, while not neglecting a child's challenges. "He's happy to come to school now," she said.

The make-up of the student body is changing as gentrification gains a foothold in Crown Heights. In the lowest grades blondes and brunettes are beginning to outnumber the larger school-wide African American majority. The administration actively recruits children from the community to try to retain the school's racial and economic diversity, which members of the school community said they value.

The principal said teachers try to avoid dull workbook test prep in favor of solid instruction and hands-on projects. One change has been to adjust the schedule to allow for additional small group lessons and to ask kids to tackle shorter reading passages in 3rd-grade. "My child is in a testing grade so that's important to me," said a 4th-grade parent, who admitted she'd like to see stronger test scores.

Even-keeled Saratovsky leads a parent forum on Friday mornings with coffee, pastries and food-for-thought. On the day of our visit, she showed a video in order to brainstorm ways PS 770 students might use technology in the classroom. This sparked a discussion on race, the school's "no homework" policy, and the fears children were expressing related to news of police aggression. Saratovsky, who is herself a mother of young children, was able to draw candid comments from a diverse group of Caribbean, African American, Asian and Caucasian parents.

Instead of hiring art and music teachers, the staff prefers the flexibility and lower cost of arts residencies in partnership with Center for Arts Education. All student take visual arts, dance or theater. There's an after-school program until 6 pm for a fee of about $10 a day.

SPECIAL EDUCATION: Children with special needs are integrated into general classrooms and grouped according to need for lessons.

ADMISSIONS: Priority to District 17. There were about 200 applications for 36 pre-k spots in 2014. (Lydie Raschka, May 2015)

About the students

Enrollment
276
Pre-K seats
34
Asian
1.5%
Black
61.2%
Hispanic
8.3%
White
17.0%
Other
12.0%
Free or reduced priced lunch
62%
Students with disabilities
13%
English language learners
1%

About the school

Shared campus?
Yes
This school shares the building with PS 398
Metal detectors?
No
How crowded? (Full is 100%)
55%
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?
84%
82% Citywide Average
How many teachers say their students are safe outside around this school?
73%
88% Citywide Average

About the leadership

Years of principal experience at this school
2.8
6.6 Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?
89%
82% Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal has a clear vision for this school?
94%
90% Citywide Average
How many teachers trust the principal?
90%
82% Citywide Average

About the teachers

How many teachers have 3 or more years of experience teaching?
55%
78% Citywide Average
Teacher attendance
97%
96% Citywide Average
How many teachers say they would recommend this school to other families?
90%
85% Citywide Average
How many teachers think the staff collaborate to make this school run effectively?
95%
89% Citywide Average

Do parents like the school?

How many parents responded to the school survey?
60%
65% Citywide Average
How many parents say they are invited to visit classrooms?
95%
85% Citywide Average
How many parents say this school offers enough courses, activities and services to keep their children interested in school?
84%
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?
87%
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?
24%
43% Citywide Average
How many students scored 3-4 on the state ELA exam?
37%
42% Citywide Average

Arts offerings

This school has 0 dedicated spaces for the 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 self-contained students
1.92
2.4 Citywide Average
Average ELA score for self-contained students
2.18
2.2 Citywide Average
Average math score for SETSS students
1.6
2.8 Citywide Average
Average ELA score for SETSS students
2.0
2.2 Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say this school offers enough activities and services for their children's needs?
94%
86% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say this school works to achive the goals of their students' IEPs?
94%
91% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say they are satisfied with the IEP development process at this school?
94%
89% Citywide Average
For more information about our data sources, see About Our Data
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