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P.S. 261 Zipporiah Mills

Grades: Pre-K, K-5
Staff Pick
314 Pacific Street
Brooklyn NY 11201
Phone: 718-330-9275

Our Insights

What’s Special

Strong focus on social justice

The Downside

Hard to gauge how well kids are learning due to high state test opt out rate

At P.S. 261, children are encouraged to speak up, to lead, and to be a good friend. Themes of social justice and equity are seen in the books kids read, in morning meetings, and in lessons, research and writing. 

Social justice is a major focus: Every year kids, families, and staff march to Borough Hall to reenact Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s march on Washington. They carry posters about racism, gun violence, LGBTQ+ rights, and climate change. The school staff is diverse, and some are bilingual, closely matching the make-up of the student population. PS 261 offers anti-bias workshops to families. A parent of a transgender child said she chose the school for its active welcome of all children.

Dance, music, and Arabic art: Through a partnership with the Qatar Foundation, the school offers a class that teaches the Arabic language and culture through art. Children practice Arabic calligraphy, and paint watercolors of olive trees. Third grade classes visit the Met Museum and Gallery of the Arab Lands, Iran, and Turkey. Every student also takes dance and music (and physical education) every week. 

Read-aloud books in all grades; phonics is taught early on: Teachers read books aloud in all grades, giving kids time to discuss, write, and make sense of plot, setting, characters, and theme. Fifth-graders study Harbor Me by Jacqueline Woodson, a novel about the healing that can occur when a group of students share their stories.  In addition to reading books, the younger grades study phonics daily in small groups. 

Research and writing are emphasized in the older grades:  In the upper grades, students write memoirs, articles, and literary essays based on “book club” books. In a five-week residency with the Brooklyn Public Library, fifth-graders learn how to use primary and secondary sources, observation, inference, and guiding questions in research. They study artifacts and do a research project on their own. 

Math drills, and real-world science: In addition to math games, projects, and activities, students do daily math drills to help improve their accuracy and speed. In a partnership with Makeosity, children and families study energy and circuitry. They use real electrical engineering tools and learn about college and career pathways in science. 

Lots of support for students: The school has a wide range of specialists on staff, including English as a New Language (ENL) teachers, speech therapists, occupational and physical therapists, a counselor, a social worker, a psychologist, and a school nurse.

Afterschool: There’s a huge list of activities. Families pay according to a sliding scale based on need.

Many families opt out of state tests: Typically, more than half of all families opt out of testing in grades 3 to 5. While test scores do not tell the whole story about how well a school is doing, it is one less measure to figure out how well children are progressing. On a school tour, ask how teachers measure progress.  (Lydie Raschka, via interviews and web reports, February 2023)






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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?
82% Citywide Average

From the 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 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 2022-2023 Assessment Database

How many elementary school students scored 3-4 on the state math exam?
53% Citywide Average
How many elementary school students scored 3-4 on the state reading exam?
50% 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

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

How does this school serve special populations?

From the New York State 2022-2023 Assessment Database

How many students with disabilities scored 3-4 on the state math exam?
30% Citywide Average
How many students with disabilities scored 3-4 on the state reading exam?
23% Citywide Average
How many English language learners scored 3-4 on the state math exam?
21% Citywide Average
How many English language learners scored 3-4 on the state reading exam?
12% Citywide Average

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

Contact & Location


Downtown Brooklyn (District 15)
Trains: R Line to Jay St-MetroTech; F Line, G Line to Bergen St; B Line, Q Line to DeKalb Ave; A Line, C Line to Hoyt & Schermerhorn; 4 Line, 5 Line to Court St - Borough Hall; 2 Line, 3 Line to Hoyt St - Fulton Mall
Buses: B103, B25, B26, B37, B38, B45, B54, B57, B61, B62, B63, B65, B67


Erica Davis
Parent Coordinator
Weston Heather

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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