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P.S. 42 Benjamin Altman

Grades: Pre-K, K-5
Staff Pick
71 Hester Street
Manhattan NY 10002
Phone: 212-226-8410

Our Insights

What’s Special

Topnotch math scores; multi-generational community with experienced leadership

The Downside

Building could use another renovation; narrow hallways & no elevator

PS 42 is a large, happy elementary school with a strong sense of community that spans generations. The school sits on the border of Chinatown and the Lower East Side, surrounded by tenements, bodegas, art galleries and high-end boutiques and restaurants. Despite the changing neighborhood, PS 42 has strong roots - at least one teacher in every grade was a student at the school, said former Principal Rosa ODay-Casiello, who was at the school for more than two decades.

Its a very salient aspect of our school, the sense of it being a community school, said ODay. Its a very caring community. The appreciation is mutual. ODays office is decked with poems and artwork former students created in her honor.

Some collaborative projects are grade-wide, inter-disciplinary units of study. For a project about bridges, second graders in all five classes researched bridges of the world, explored bridge geometry and physics, created bridge-inspired 3-D art and paintings, heard architects speak about their jobs and went on fields trips to Battery Park to see bridges. Kids even wrote letters dated 1869 to Washington Roebling explaining why they would decline or accept a job offer to build the Brooklyn Bridge. First graders worked on similar projects with classroom pets, creating hamster, walking stick or frog habitats, writing books about their pets and studying the animals real life environments. Kindergartners studying the post office oversee an in-school mail system that includes mail sorting and letter delivery service.

Collaborative studies particularly help English language learners, who get to flex their language skills when they mingle with general education classes to work on projects together, ODay said. About a third of the students are recent arrivals from China and speak Mandarin at home. ODay said shes seen the ELL population change in her years at the school - when she arrived at PS 42 in the 1990s, most of the Chinese ELLs were native Cantonese speakers. The Spanish-speaking population has dropped significantly, ODay said, although the school still offers Spanish ESL classes.

Despite language barriers, PS 42 parents are very involved. On our visit, many were helping prep for 5th grade graduation ceremony, chatting in Mandarin with some of the office staff.

Students are exposed to a variety of arts and school walls burst with student artwork. Arts partnerships include Midori and Friends, Studio in the School and a collaboration with the Guggenheim that allows students to see their work hanging at the museum. Everyone learns to play the recorder by 2nd or 3rd grade -and 2nd graders get to swim at the nearby Chinatown YMCA. PS 42 has not just one but two full-time gym teachers, a rarity among elementary schools.

PS 42s building is more than a century old and was designed by Charles Snyder, an architect who built over 100 schools in New York City. Unfortunately, many of the original architectural details were covered up when the city remodeled the school in the 1960s. The remodeling job left irregularities in the building like inconsistent ceiling heights and narrow hallways. The building is arranged to accommodate these quirks, with the pre-k and kindergarten classes in the wing of the school that seems built for smaller people.

For middle school, most PS 42 grads go on to Baruch and Wagner. Some also go to Lab and School of the Future, said ODay.

Special Education: The school has both self-contained and ICT classes.

English Language Learners: PS 42 offers a range of options for English language learners including self-contained ESL classes that mix Spanish or Chinese and English and bilingual Chinese classes for children who are just beginning to learn English.

Admission: Neighborhood school. (Anna Schneider, May 2013; updated November 2014)

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School Stats

Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

Is this school safe and well-run?

From the 2020-21 NYC School Survey

How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?
86% Citywide Average

From the 2019-20 NY State Report Card

How many students were suspended?
0% Citywide Average

From this school's most recent Quality Review Report

Are teachers effective?

From the 2021-22 School Quality Guide

How many teachers have 3 or more years of experience teaching?
84% Citywide Average
Years of principal experience at this school

How do students perform academically?

From the New York State 2021 -22 Assessment Database

How many elementary school students scored 3-4 on the state math exam?
42% Citywide Average
How many elementary school students scored 3-4 on the state reading exam?
43% Citywide Average

What is the Pre-K like?

From the NYC Program Assessment (CLASS and ECERS-R) Database through 2019-2020

Instruction: Teachers ask kids to explain their reasoning when they solve problems
Activities: Children explore art, music, sand/water, dramatic play and more
Language: Teachers talk and listen to kids in a supportive way
Interaction: Teachers ask kids good questions and invite back-and-forth conversation

Who does this school serve?

From the 2022-23 Demographic Snapshot

Free or reduced priced lunch
Students with disabilities
English language learners
Pre-K seats
3-K seats

From the 2021-22 School Quality Guide

Average daily attendance
90% Citywide Average
How many students miss 18 or more days of school?
40% Citywide Average

From the 2020 School Directories

This school offers Transitional Bilingual Education in Chinese.

How does this school serve special populations?

From the New York State 2021 -22 Assessment Database

How many students with disabilities scored 3-4 on the state math exam?
21% Citywide Average
How many students with disabilities scored 3-4 on the state reading exam?
18% Citywide Average
How many English language learners scored 3-4 on the state math exam?
17% Citywide Average
How many English language learners scored 3-4 on the state reading exam?
14% Citywide Average

For more information about our data sources, see About Our Data · More DOE statistics for this school

Contact & Location


Chinatown (District 2)
Trains: J Line, M Line, Z Line to Delancey St-Essex St; F Line to East Broadway; B Line, D Line to Grand St; 6 Line, N Line, Q Line, R Line, W Line to Canal St
Buses: B39, M103


May Lee
Parent Coordinator
Wai Lam

Other Details

Shared campus?
This school is in its own building.
Metal detectors?

Zone for the 2019-2020 school year. Call school to confirm.

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