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Middle School High School

The Benjamin Franklin Magnet School for Civic Leadership in Health and Science (P.S./I.S. 157)

Grades: Pre-K, K-8
850 Kent Avenue
Brooklyn NY 11205
Phone: 718-622-9285
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Our Insights

What’s Special

Close-knit pre-k-8 community where all adults know all students

The Downside

Persistently low student achievement, losing space to charter school

PS/IS 157 is a safe, orderly school that serves a sizable Latino community with almost daily new arrivals from the Dominican Republic and Mexico. Located in a largely Orthodox Jewish neighborhood on the Williamsburg and Bedford-Stuyvesant border, the school has not yet begun to attract gentrifying newcomers but maintains its traditionally loyal Hispanic base.

Even families who move away, forced out by rising rents, continue to send their children to PS/IS 157, traveling from as far away as the Bronx, administrators said. In a school where one-fifth of the students are still learning to speak English, many staff members are bilingual and even PTA meetings are conducted in Spanish, a parent said. All letters sent home get translated and there are interpreters for school workshops and meetings. As of 2016 the school offers a Spanish-English dual language program.

The principal, Juliana Notaro, said she stresses the importance of attendance and coming to school on time to newcomers, impressing upon them "the rules and regulations that we keep in place that create a safe environment."

The staff is loyal. When former principal Maribel Hulla was promoted to become a District 14 assistant superintendent in February 2015, the school didn't skip a beat in the transition to Notaro, assistant principal since 2003. Parent coordinator Christia Rodriguez has been at the school since 2000.

The old-fashioned building is kept clean and gleaming, although the space used as a gym is adjacent to the cafeteria, making for noisy areas at the school's entrances. Instead of a large playground, there are smaller courtyards at two entrances.

Children, many of whom come from area homeless shelters and the nearby Lafayette Gardens public housing development, are well-behaved, sitting with hands folded awaiting the start of the lesson in one 2nd-grade class. The school has adopted the city's test-aligned curricula, Ready Gen and GoMath. We saw lots of teacher-led instruction and students filling out worksheets. Students are grouped by ability for math and literacy and frequently break into small groups for different tasks. Pre-kindergarten rooms are bustling with block and dress-up corners, children dancing, singing and pretending to be the animals in a song. In one pre-k classroom there was even a show-and-tell activity.

Academics are not neglected."[My son] came out of the whole experience with a great foundation for kindergartenreading and writing three- and four-letter words, independence with basic life skills like opening a milk carton, and ease with new people," a mother told Insideschools. Kindergartners and 1st-graders had excellent penmanship and writing skills. There's an emphasis on good grammar, spelling and punctuation, with weekly spelling tests in many classes.

Administrators point to the challenges of teaching a large immigrant student population; many parents don't speak English or are illiterate and unable to help with homework. Weekly test prep has been instituted for grades 3-8, in response to low state test scores. The principal also noted that "a lot [of students have] passed the NSESLAT," an assessment which tests children's proficiency in English. Nevertheless, persistently low student academic achievement remains worrisome.

Most 5th-graders stay for middle school and have younger siblings at the school. They wear different uniforms, have lockers in some classrooms and travel between classes. But grades 6-8 don't seem to have the energy of a stand-alone middle school. Class size is smallabout 20 students per classbut there are few electives or extras other than art, music and Spanish.

PS/IS 157 is part of the Middle School Quality Initiative, a public and private program that aims to boost literacy in low-performing schools with such features as a debate team and an extended school day. Children learn new academic vocabulary in all subjects along with debate, reasoning and argumentative skills. Administrators from other schools visit to see how it has been implemented, the principal said.

Middle school instruction was mostly teacher-led with students filling out workbooks. Literature circles were just beginning in ELA classrooms, as students in an 8th-grade class discussed a book in which a girl tries to save bonobos.

The school's first 8th-grade class graduated in 2014. Most grads stayed close to home for high school, attending nearby schools such as Brooklyn Prep or Williamsburg Art & Architecture.

The Beginning with Children Charter School was scheduled to move into the building in 2015. PS/IS 157 protested the co-location which will cost them space, and make sharing the small cafeteria and facilities more complicated, administrators said.

SPECIAL EDUCATION: PS/IS 157 has a large special needs population, making up about one-quarter of the school. There are six self-contained classrooms, most bridging several grades. All have the same large, bright classrooms as the other rooms. Some children on the autism spectrum are included in regular classrooms. There are ICT classrooms on most grades.

ADMISSIONS: Neighborhood school but many students come from outside the zone and district. For middle school, preference goes to continuing 5th-graders. There is no screening for other applicants. (Pamela Wheaton, March 2015)

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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 2018-19 NYC School Survey

How many teachers say order and discipline are maintained at this school?
71% Citywide Average
How many students say they feel safe in the hallways, bathrooms and locker rooms?
84% Citywide Average
How many students think bullying happens most or all of the time at this school?
51% Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?
78% Citywide Average
How many teachers say they would recommend this school to other families?
78% Citywide Average

From 2017-18 NY State Report Card

How many students were suspended?
2% Citywide Average

From this school's most recent Quality Review Report

Are teachers effective?

From 2018-19 School Quality Guide

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 2018 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?
46% Citywide Average
How many middle school students scored 3-4 on the state reading exam?
51% Citywide Average

From 2018 Middle School Directory

What high schools do most graduates attend?
Williamsburg Preparatory School

From 2018-19 School Quality Guide

How many 8th-graders earn high school credit?
32% Citywide Average

What is the Pre-K like?

From this school's most recent Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS)

Instruction: Teachers ask kids to explain their reasoning when they solve problems

From this school's most recent Early Childhood Environmental Rating System (ECERS-R)

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 2018-19 Demographic Snapshot

Free or reduced priced lunch
Students with disabilities
English language learners

From 2018-19 School Quality Guide

Average daily attendance
93% Citywide Average
How many students miss 18 or more days of school?
23% Citywide Average

From 2018 School Directories

Uniforms required?
Pre-K seats
This school offers Dual Language classes in Spanish.

How does this school serve special populations?

From 2018 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
How many English language learners scored 3-4 on the state math exam?
24% Citywide Average
How many English language learners scored 3-4 on the state reading exam?
16% Citywide Average

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

Contact & Location


Bedford-Stuyvesant (District 14)
Trains: G Line to Classon Ave
Buses: B38, B44, B44-SBS, B48, B54, B57, B62


Kourtney Boyd

Other Details

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

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

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