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P.S. 5 Dr. Ronald McNair

Grades: 3-K, Pre-K, K-5
820 Hancock Street
Brooklyn NY 11233
Phone: 718-218-2444

Our Insights

What’s Special

French dual language program, free after school

The Downside

Declining enrollment, poor attendance

PS 5 is a tiny school with an enrollment that has dropped by half in recent years as neighborhood parents opted for charter schools or other traditional public schools. Barely 15 percent of the kindergartners who live in the school’s attendance zone attend PS 5, according to city statistics.

That may change soon: at the urging of local parents, the school decided to add a French dual language progam in the fall of 2018 that promises to attract families.

On the positive side, parents say they like the teachers, particularly in the pre-kindergarten classes. “My son who is in Pre-K comes home every day excited to share what he has learned,” one mother wrote to InsideSchools. On our visit, children seemed happy and engaged.  

The school has a newly renovated library, staffed by a full-time librarian. Children use laptops throughout the school and learn computer coding as part of the SEPjr (Software Engineering Program Junior) program. There is a free after-school program. The principal has an open door policy and welcomes visitors.

In addition to free breakfast, lunch and dinner, the school sends meals home over the weekend. 

However, the school faces many challenges. Attendance is poor, and nearly half the children miss more than a month of school each year, according to Department of Education statistics. PS 5 serves a large number of homeless children, some of whom stay in nearby shelters; others travel by bus from the Bronx or Queens. Their unstable housing contributes to poor attendance.

There appears to be some friction between the administration and staff. One-third of teachers say they don’t think the principal is effective and nearly half say there are problems with order and discipline, according to school surveys. Principal Lena Gates, who has led the school since 1998, told us some teachers “feel threatened” by a new, less punitive approach to discipline.

The building also houses PS 369, a District 75 for children with severe disabilities.

SPECIAL EDUCATION: There is a social worker, a guidance counselor and a psychologist according to the budget summary. There are small “self-contained” classes for kids that mix children with special needs into general education classes with two teachers. 

ADMISSIONS: Neighborhood school. (Clara Hemphill, May 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 the 2022-2023 NYC School Survey

How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?
82% Citywide Average
How many teachers say they would recommend this school to other families?
84% 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 2023 End-of-year Attendance and Chronic Absenteeism Report

How many teachers have 3 or more years of experience teaching?
85% 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
3-K seats

From the 2022-23 School Quality Guide

Average daily attendance
91% Citywide Average
How many students miss 18 or more days of school?
36% 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 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


Bedford-Stuyvesant (District 16)
Trains: J Line, Z Line to Gates Ave; C Line to Ralph Ave
Buses: B20, B25, B26, B46, B47, B52, B7, Q24


Lena Gates
Parent Coordinator
Odolph Wright

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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