P.S. 134

Grades K-5
Staff Pick
Marquee homepage

What’s Special

Strong literacy program

The Downside

Classroom technology is limited, space is tight

Our Review

In the heart of Brooklyn, the neighborhood of Kensington draws new immigrants from Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Haiti, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, the Darfur region of Sudan, Poland, Russia and many other places. PS 134 welcomes them all; more than one-quarter of its student population is learning English. It has a strong literacy program and excels at helping struggling readers and writers improve. Teachers are experienced and tend to stay at the school for many years.

It's a challenge to meet the needs of so many new English speakers, said principal Debra Ramsaran, adding, "some older children have never been in school before." Yet the education department said the school is "well developed," in all areas, the highest rating a school can receive on their 2014-2015 Quality Review. A literacy specialist, Ramsaran became principal in February 2008 after serving as assistant principal for six years. "She runs a tight ship," said a new teacher, admiringly.

The school has a calm tone and many classrooms have a homey atmosphere, with curtains, plants, rugs and books. Children wear uniforms and are notably courteous to one another. When we stopped by classrooms, they were generally quiet and orderly, and we sometimes had trouble picking out the teacher because he or she was sitting alongside students at tables or on the rug.

In addition to help from two literacy coaches on staff, who work directly with teachers to help develop and revise lessons, all teachers receive support from Teachers College, Columbia University, for their reading and writing instruction, which the school has used for many years.

Teachers strive for balance in their literacy programs. For example, children sometimes pick the books they want to read and other times listen to the teacher read aloud; they study phonics, grammar and word study, and they meet in small reading groups with a teacher. They do lots of independent reading to become stronger readers. Everyone reads the same "book of the month," focusing on a quality such as "pride" or "trust."

A full-time math coach helps teachers mix in lessons from GoMath and other sources to make sure students learn a mix of skills and problem solving.

Each grade has one "Eagle" class for high achievers, which make it easier to address thei specific needs, said Ramsaran. An academic specialist gives children a short test when their parents sign them up for kindergarten to determine whether or not the student should be placed in the Eagle class. On our visit, this specialist was listening to a child recite numbers, as her parent filled out paperwork to enroll. At a glance, we couldn't tell the difference between Eagle and general classes, which are equally ethnically diverse and study the same content.

The school works with the Brooklyn Botanic Garden on its science curriculum and there is a science room that children visit once a week up through 3rd grade, and twice a week in grades 4 and 5, for "hands-on" experiments, said the teacher. "Cluster" classes also include technology, gym and music. Additionally, children learn how to dance and take trips to Covenant Ballet in the older grades. They study the American Revolution and visit the historic Fraunces Tavern Museum. On St. Patrick's Day, they sample green bagels; in the fall, they visit a farm and pick pumpkins.

Because the main building is strapped for space, kindergarten and 1st grade classes are housed in portable classrooms behind the main building. The space has been turned into an inviting early childhood center. Classes are large but we saw that children are often put into smaller groups for instruction. PS 134 only offers pre-k when there is room, depending on the number of kindergarten children who enroll. However, close by is the Joan Snow Pre-K Center at 1139 Coney Island Avenue.

The principal said the teachers "would love to improve in technology." For now, they want to retain their computer lab, but hope to incorporate more iPads and laptops for in-class use along with teacher training in how to use them.

SPECIAL EDUCATION: The school serves children in team-teaching classes called ICT (integrated co-teaching), which mix children with special needs and their general education peers in one classroom. There is one small "self-contained" class for children with more serious disabilities.

ADMISSIONS: Zoned neighborhood school. There are scheduled tours for prospective parents in February. (Lydie Raschka, March 2016)

About the students

Enrollment
562
Asian
42.0%
Black
6.8%
Hispanic
11.0%
White
38.4%
Other
1.8%
Free or reduced priced lunch
100%
Students with disabilities
14%
English language learners
22%

About the school

Shared campus?
No
This school is in its own building.
How crowded? (Full is 100%)
125%
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

Attendance

Average daily attendance
95%
94% Citywide Average
How many students are chronically absent?
13%
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
8.4
6.6 Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?
93%
80% Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal has a clear vision for this school?
96%
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?
86%
78% Citywide Average
Teacher attendance
97%
96% Citywide Average
How many teachers say they would recommend this school to other families?
85%
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?
93%
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?
85%
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?
66%
40% Citywide Average
How many students scored 3-4 on the state ELA exam?
60%
39% Citywide Average

Arts offerings

This school has 0 dedicated spaces for the arts.
This school has 2 licensed arts teachers in 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 English language learners score 3-4 on the State ELA exam?
3%
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 ICT students
2.2
2.0 Citywide Average
Average math score for self-contained students
2.43
2.3 Citywide Average
Average ELA score for ICT students
2.17
1.9 Citywide Average
Average ELA score for self-contained students
2.01
2.2 Citywide Average
Average ELA score for SETSS students
3.21
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?
90%
91% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say they are satisfied with the IEP development process at this school?
97%
89% Citywide Average
For more information about our data sources, see About Our Data
  • Give specific examples. Tell us why this school rocks (or doesn't).
  • Criticism is fine, but no profanity, racist or ethnic slurs, or personal attacks.
  • All users must comply with our Terms of Use.