P.S. 161 Juan Ponce De Leon School
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Dual language; arts-related field trips
Many students miss at least a month of school
PS 161 serves 3-K to 5th grade students and offers a dual language program in which children learn in Spanish for part of the day and English for part of the day. Children visit many museums and other cultural venues.
PS 161 has boosted its arts programming in recent years based on research that shows the arts can support English as a New Language (ENL) students, according to the Comprehensive Educational Plan Students go on many arts-related field trips a year, including to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Shubert Theatre and Lincoln Center.
In school, the youngest study music and art; 3rd graders study music and dance; and 4th and 5th graders study music, dance, theater and art.
Although it still has a ways to go, PS 161 has shown improvement on state test scores in recent years, particularly in math. The city’s Quality Review, which is based on visits to the school, says that teachers need to continue to encourage children to speak up in class and to deliver more of their lessons to small groups of students.
PS 161 has launched a half-hour period every morning called “frozen time,” an extra practice session in reading for children who struggle the most, and enrichment for those who are on grade level or above. First-graders who are the farthest below grade level meet with trained reading teachers one-on-one to improve their skills. There are also after school programs to help students catch-up.
A few downsides: some teachers do not feel committed to the school and would not recommend it to new families, according to NYC School Surveys. Attendance is a work-in-progress; roughly half the students miss at least a month of school.
ADMISSIONS: Unzoned school. (Lydie Raschka, web reports, May 2020)