P.S. 166 Henry Gradstein

Grades Pre-K, K-5
Staff Pick
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What’s Special

Strong administration and established, successful dual language program

The Downside

Little outdoor play time, and a dingy courtyard for an outside play area

Our Review

PS 166, a large, stable and thriving school on the border of Astoria and Long Island City in Queens, offers a highly regarded Spanish/English dual-language program and a district-wide gifted and talented programin addition to strong general education classes in each grade. Although the school is large and has several different programs in operation, there is a strong sense of community. Teachers cheerfully greet one another in the hall, and many know and connect with students beyond those in their classes. Every morning the entire school stops what they're doing for a lively, two-minute dance or jumping-jack "fitness break."

A nice mix of Asian, Hispanic, White and Black students reflects the neighborhood's demographics. It is a rich soup where students and their families speak many different languages at home, and children whose parents are Bengali mix easily with children from Central and South America. Generally, the individual classes reflect the school's overall ethnic make-up, although the gifted classes, which admit students from throughout the district, have more White and Asian students and fewer Hispanics than the school as a whole.

The two full-time pre-k classrooms are bright with play kitchens, reading nooks, blocks and other stations. The students work on art projects together, designed to encourage communication and collaboration. Although some pre-k students continue into kindergarten at PS 166, the admission process is separate and they are not guaranteed a spot.

The school relies on scripted reading and math programs (ReadyGen and GoMath, supplemented with manipulatives), but most classrooms we observed had a vibrant dynamic. For instance, kindergartners eagerly worked on poetry notebooks, sharing comments with one another. In an integrated co-teaching class, 5th-graders working on math sheets appeared alert and interested as teachers moved among them checking-in and discussing concepts. In a lively dual-language class, a Spanish-speaking student led her classmates through an active lesson that included dancing. The students were delighted and attentive.

The school is largealmost 1,200 studentsand classes can be big. Hallways bustle as pupils move in loose lines from their classrooms to gym, music or other specials. The atmosphere, though, feels active and friendly rather than crowded and hurried. For instance, a 2nd-grade teacher sang "Michael Row Your Boat Ashore" brightly, keeping her students' focus as they walked back to the classroom; students from other classes streamed past happily. The full-size gym was busy but organized as two classes divided the space for different activities.

Jessica Geller has been principal since 2011 and was previously at the school for nine years as an assistant principal and teacher. She is optimistic and upbeat about the school. There is little turnover in staffand Geller is proud that the teachers who come to PS 166 tend to make a career there.

PS 166's dual language program is in its 10th year, making it one of the most established in the city. It is a point of pride for the administration. There are two dual language classes on each grade, and the administration hopes to add a third kindergarten class in 2016. The students alternate classrooms, languages (Spanish/English), and teachers each day. Their lessons are consecutive but taught in Spanish one day, English the next. The program's supervisor said that most students who begin the program stick with it throughout their years in elementary school. Additionally, a nearby middle school has recently added a Spanish/English dual language program so PS 166's students will be able to continue their dual language education.

The PTA is very active and pays for several enrichment programs such as theater, 3rd-grade chess and ballroom dancing. The PTA also sponsors an indoor recess program for cold or rainy days. There are two on-site after-school programs.

SPECIAL EDUCATION: There are three small, self-contained classrooms for students with significant needs covering grades k-5. Except for 4th grade, each grade has an ICT class with two teachers and a mix of special education and general education students.

ADMISSIONS: Neighborhood school. Admissions for the district G&T program is based on the citywide assessment process. Call the school for information about admissions to the dual language program.(Elizabeth Daniel, January 2016)

About the students

Enrollment
1159
Pre-K seats
35
Asian
27.6%
Black
4.2%
Hispanic
44.3%
White
21.6%
Other
2.3%
Free or reduced priced lunch
69%
Students with disabilities
9%
English language learners
16%

About the school

Shared campus?
No
This school is in its own building.
Metal detectors?
No
How crowded? (Full is 100%)
121%
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?
11%
21% Citywide Average

Is this school safe?

How many teachers say order and discipline are maintained at this school?
89%
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
4.4
6.6 Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?
90%
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?
95%
79% Citywide Average

About the teachers

How many teachers have 3 or more years of experience teaching?
93%
78% Citywide Average
Teacher attendance
96%
96% Citywide Average
How many teachers say they would recommend this school to other families?
95%
83% Citywide Average
How many teachers think the staff collaborate to make this school run effectively?
94%
87% Citywide Average

Do parents like the school?

How many parents responded to the school survey?
39%
64% Citywide Average
How many parents say they are invited to visit classrooms?
91%
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
How many parents say their child's teacher helped their child adjust to Pre-K?
100%
97% Citywide Average
How many parents say this Pre-K program helped them consider which elementary schools would meet their childrens' needs?
92%
91% Citywide Average
How many Pre-K parents say their child's teacher gave helpful ideas for how to support their child's learning?
100%
96% 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?
59%
40% Citywide Average
How many students scored 3-4 on the state ELA exam?
58%
39% Citywide Average

Arts offerings

This school has 4 dedicated spaces for Music, Visual arts, and an Auditorium
This school has 2 licensed arts teachers in Music
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

How does this school serve English Language Learners?

This school offers Dual Language classes in Spanish.
How many English language learners score 3-4 on the State ELA exam?
10%
10% Citywide Average
How many former English language learners score 3-4 on the State ELA exam?
41%
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
1.7
2.0 Citywide Average
Average math score for self-contained students
2.39
2.3 Citywide Average
Average ELA score for ICT students
1.7
1.9 Citywide Average
Average ELA score for self-contained students
2.36
2.2 Citywide Average
Average math score for SETSS students
1.94
2.8 Citywide Average
Average ELA score for SETSS students
2.06
2.2 Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say this school offers enough activities and services for their children's needs?
80%
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?
74%
89% Citywide Average
For more information about our data sources, see About Our Data
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