Central Park East II

Grades: 3-K, Pre-K, K-8
Staff Pick
433 East 100th St
Manhattan NY 10029
Phone: 212-860-5992

Our Insights

What’s Special

Progressive education with an experienced leader

The Downside

Space is tight in lower school in shared building

Central Park East II is a cheerful progressive school that values exploration and discovery. Teachers go by their first names and prize democratic relations. They crouch down to meet kids at eye-level, and chat easily with their principal, Naomi Smith. Children are encouraged to speak up, think for themselves and pursue their own interests.

The school has an eclectic approach to lessons and teachers are equal partners with the administration in making decisions. "We have no gurus here," said Smith, who has been in the New York City public school system since 1982 and taught many grades. The staff meets on Monday afternoons for two hours to plan and go over children's work. Teachers work with language and math coaches to deepen their practice.

In grades pre-k to 5, the day begins with "work time," during which children select an area of the room to explore. (It's called "project time" in middle school.) They may construct a house with blocks, try a cooking project or write a play.Teachers find ways to challenge top students while giving struggling kids the support they need. The level of writing varies and some of it is of high quality. Avid readers tackle fiction, nonfiction, comic books and other genres. Children are divided into ability groups for math using a core of Engage NY lessons, "adapted to our needs," said Smith. In one, we watched kids rapidly jot down expressions for the number of the day (i.e., 74 = (40 x 2) - 6) using "mental math." In the next room, children used plastic counters to work through the same process.

Classrooms have a healthy buzz of movement and talk. Science takes place in the classroom with a science teacher up to twice a week. The lesson we saw was happy, verging on boisterous, as kids placed plastic cubes on balance scales, with the assistance of four roaming adults.

Many families opted out of taking state tests in 2015, including the entire 5th-grade class, and test results are not a great concern for Smith: "We do pretty well on tests," she said. "It varies how many take the test each year," she added.

CPE II is creative with its physical education requirements to give kids new experiences and skills: The youngest grades ice skate weekly, 2nd-graders swim and 3rd-graders play tennis. Grades 4, 5 and 6 visit Taconic State Park camp, and everyone has gym at least once a week. Children bundle up and play outside even in cold weather, but a child who prefers to stay inside may be allowed to do so.

In 2018, the school moved from a building it shared with PS 171 to the former PS/MS 50 building. 

CPE II was founded in 1981, modeled after its sister school, CPE I. It expanded to include middle school in 2015. The middle school is located four blocks away and co-located in a building with PS 108. Smith frequently consults her cell phone to keep in touch and visits daily. A few elementary school teachers moved up to 6th grade to provide continuity and exude a can-do spirit that inspires confidence.

There were two 6th-grade classrooms at the time of our visit, each with 21 children, comprising a range of skills, from several children who were previously in a small, 5th-grade "self contained," special education class to independent high-achievers, said Smith. Some children are pulled out for small group math lessons with the likable music teacher who doubles as a math coach and art teacher.

The classrooms have a homey feel with plants and homemade posters. Two teachers combine science and humanities in an environmental study in partnership with Welikia. Students make three trips to Randall's Island to study oysters and monitor a classroom aquarium with oysters.

One downside: The middle school lacks a regular custodian and parents have had to pitch in to help keep bathrooms clean.

SPECIAL EDUCATION: In the lower school about one-fourth of the population has special needs and there are many teaching assistants to help them. At least one class per grade integrates children with special needs and two teachers in the lower and middle schools.

ADMISSIONS: CPE II invites families to visit first to help them understand its progressive stance. Pre-k and kindergarten classes fill up with younger siblings and District 4 families in general, Smith said. If interested, "Be a squeaky wheel but not too squeaky," she said. Middle school priority goes to continuing 5th-grade CPE II students, then CPE I students, then District 4 families. (Lydie Raschka, January 2016; new location update, 2018)

Read more

School Stats

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

Is this school safe and well-run?

From 2019-20 NYC School Survey

How many students say they feel safe in the hallways, bathrooms and locker rooms?
91% Citywide Average
How many students think bullying happens most or all of the time at this school?
32% Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?
84% Citywide Average

From 2019-20 NY State Report Card

How many students were suspended?
1% Citywide Average

From this school's most recent Quality Review Report

Are teachers effective?

From 2019-20 School Quality Guide

How many teachers have 3 or more years of experience teaching?
83% Citywide Average
Years of principal experience at this school

How do students perform academically?

From 2019 State ELA+Math Results Summary

How many elementary school students scored 3-4 on the state math exam?
54% Citywide Average
How many elementary school students scored 3-4 on the state reading exam?
50% Citywide Average
How many middle school students scored 3-4 on the state math exam?
45% Citywide Average
How many middle school students scored 3-4 on the state reading exam?
50% Citywide Average

From 2019-20 School Quality Guide

How many 8th-graders earn high school credit?
35% Citywide Average

What is the Pre-K like?

From the NYC Program Assessment (CLASS and ECERS-R) Database through 2018-2019

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 2020-21 Demographic Snapshot

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

From 2019-20 School Quality Guide

Average daily attendance
91% Citywide Average
How many students miss 18 or more days of school?
27% Citywide Average

From 2020 School Directories

Uniforms required?

How does this school serve special populations?

From 2019 State ELA+Math Results Summary

How many students with disabilities scored 3-4 on the state math exam?
25% Citywide Average
How many students with disabilities scored 3-4 on the state reading exam?
22% Citywide Average

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

Contact & Location


East Harlem (District 4)
Trains: 6 Line to 103rd St
Buses: BxM1, M101, M102, M103, M106, M15, M15-SBS, M31, M35, M86-SBS, M96, M98


Naomi Smith
Parent Coordinator
Julie Atwell

Other Details

Shared campus?
This school shares a building with New York Center for Autism Charter School
Uniforms required?
Metal detectors?

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