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Lafayette Academy

Grades: 6-8
154 West 93rd Street
Manhattan NY 10025
Phone: 212-222-2857

Our Insights

What’s Special

French dual language program; caring principal

The Downside

Test scores and attendance have a ways to go

A French dual language program, and a kindhearted leader with fresh ideas, has brought more students, increased diversity, and a fresh start to MS 256, now known as the Lafayette Academy. Despite its tiny size, it had long been considered the unruliest sibling in a building shared with the hugely popular Manhattan School for Children and the Community Action School. Now, the atmosphere is safe and calm. The principal is committed to his position and students are eager for new academic challenges.

MS 256 is one of very few middle schools in the city offering a French dual language program and it enrolls students who are already fluent in the language. There is one dual language class per grade, with a mix of children from West Africa, Canada, Belgium, France and elsewhere. Lessons are taught in French in language arts and social studies; children study math in both languages starting in 8th grade.

Parents from nearby PS 84 lobbied for the program and MS 256 draws mainly from that school and the French American Charter School for its dual language classes.

Principal Brian Zager worked as assistant principal of the now-closed CASTLE middle school on the Lower East Side. A history and sports buff, he does not speak French himself but promised his first French language graduating class of 2017 that he would learn enough to speak a few words at their graduation.

Students and families have responded favorably to Zager, who has fostered community with "spirit days" on themes like "wacky tacky," "business dress-up" and "twin day." He led teachers in revamping the curriculum, with the inclusion of a daily 30-minute independent reading time, during which teachers split classes into small groups by gender, based on research he read that showed children perform better in reading when they are grouped that way.

English language arts teachers tackle meaty, relevant content in all classes, such as a discussion of gun violence we saw, that took place in a formal debate called a Socratic circle, and reading news articles on current events related to immigration. For high-achievers, there is a small and growing algebra class for students who meet certain criteria in math.

MS 256 is part of the Middle School Quality Initiative, a citywide effort to boost achievement in low-performing schools, with a focus on improving reading. Teachers plan together to reinforce vocabulary, reading, debate and writing skills across all subjects in a cohesive way.

Efforts have yet to pay off completely. On school surveys, more than half the students reported that teachers do not challenge them. And too many children are frequently absent. The school is tiny so even a few absences affect attendance, the principal said. He provides incentives and has a program in place to improve attendance. Student-led parent-teacher conferences resulted in "the best participation we've ever had," Zager said, and incidents of unruly behavior are at an all-time low.

With the dual language addition, the school is becoming increasingly diverse in every wayethnically, economically and academically. It is "a model for the integration that the [Department of Education] is striving to achieve," a parent wrote on our website. Test scores are inching up but still have a ways to go. It's a school worth watching.

SPECIAL EDUCATION: The school has ICT (integrated co-teaching) classes, which mix children with disabilities and their general ed peers in one classroom, with two teachers.

ADMISSIONS: While most students come from District 3, the French dual language program is open to students across Manhattan with priority to those who attend elementary school French dual language or bilingual programs, are learning English or who are proficient in both French and English. All students will be screened based on an review of students records of behavior and attendance as well as grades. (Lydie Raschka, December 2016; admissions information updated October 2018)

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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 2022-2023 NYC School Survey

How many students say they feel safe in the hallways, bathrooms and locker rooms?
78% Citywide Average
How many students think bullying happens most or all of the time at this school?
58% Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?
84% Citywide Average
How many teachers say they would recommend this school to other families?
0% Citywide Average

From the 2019-20 NY State Report Card

How many students were suspended?
4% Citywide Average

From this school's most recent Quality Review Report

Are teachers effective?

From 2023 End-of-year Attendance and Chronic Absenteeism Report

How many teachers have 3 or more years of experience teaching?
79% Citywide Average
Years of principal experience at this school

How do students perform academically?

From the New York State 2022-2023 Assessment Database

How many middle school students scored 3-4 on the state math exam?
46% Citywide Average
How many middle school students scored 3-4 on the state reading exam?
51% Citywide Average

From 2023 End-of-year Attendance and Chronic Absenteeism Report

How many 8th-graders earn high school credit?
39% Citywide Average

Who does this school serve?

From the 2022-23 Demographic Snapshot

Free or reduced priced lunch
Students with disabilities
English language learners

From 2023 End-of-year Attendance and Chronic Absenteeism Report

Average daily attendance
90% Citywide Average
How many students miss 18 or more days of school?
38% Citywide Average

From the 2020 School Directories

Uniforms required?
This school offers Dual Language classes in French.

How does this school serve special populations?

From the New York State 2022-2023 Assessment Database

How many English language learners scored 3-4 on the state math exam?
15% Citywide Average

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

Contact & Location


Upper West Side (District 3)
Trains: 1 Line, 2 Line, 3 Line, B Line, C Line to 96th St
Buses: M10, M104, M106, M11, M5, M7, M86-SBS, M96


Brian Zager
Parent Coordinator
Starrlynn Fikaris

Other Details

Shared campus?
This school shares a building with MS 258 and PS 333
Uniforms required?
Metal detectors?

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