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Middle School High School

P.S. 21 Crispus Attucks

Grades: 3-K, Pre-K, K-5
Staff Pick
180 Chauncey Street
Brooklyn NY 11233
Phone: 718-493-9681
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Our Insights

What’s Special

Consistently high performing school in a mostly low-performing district

The Downside

School losing population to charter schools which offer longer school day and year, limited after school program

PS 21 is an orderly, cheerful and relaxed place with a clear sense of common purpose. A Bedford Stuyvesant community institution, it's a traditional school with consistently solid test scores in a neighborhood where most of the schools have low levels of student achievement. The principal's high expectations translate into academic success for the school's pupils, despite the fact that most of their families are poor enough to qualify for free lunch.

Like her predecessor Harold Anderson who was principal for 10 years, Leslie Frazier grew up in the neighborhood and attended PS 21. And, like him, she credits involved and caring families for the success of the school and its students. "Success is the buy-in of parents and the commitment of parents," said Frazier, "and us trying to build relationships with our parents."

Students learn the importance of conversation and discussion, while parents are encouraged to read with their children every night. The principal hosts morning teas with parents on topics such as the Common Core standards. Teachers share learning strategies with parents that they can use at home.

Frazier, who taught in District 2's progressive PS 40 before coming back to her alma mater as teacher, assistant principal and, in 2012, principal, believes in an eclectic approach to teaching.

There are lots of hands-on science and math lessons including a robotics program. Children use little plastic blocks, or "manipulatives," to learn to count in groups of 5, 10 or 20, instead of the old-fashioned way of adding and subtracting individual numbers. Students spread out on the floor using the manipulatives, games and dice to learn math skills. A 1st-grade teacher used a puppet to introduce vocabulary to children who chanted different letters and word sounds including rhyming words and those that sound similar.

A sense of tradition and order plays an equally important role in the school. Girls wear burgundy plaid jumpers. Boys wear gray trousers, white shirts and burgundy plaid ties.There are also regular assessments to determine children's progress. Even kindergartners take midterm exams. Friday is the weekly test day, when desks are arranged in rows and students do fill-in-the-blanks quizzes and other tests.

"Assessments are important," the principal said, noting they help teachers learn which students need intervention services where children are pulled out in small groups. "That's been a strength, knowing the kids. Not having a high turnover of teachers, is a stabilizing factor."

Despite its popularity, the school could use more students, the principal said, as its population has dropped from 706 in 2009 to 648 in 2014. The drop in population has mirrored the rise in charter schools in District 16 which compete with district schools for students. Parents are attracted to charters by the longer school day, a school year that starts in August and two teachers in every classroom, Frazier said.

"Every year there is a new one opening up," she said. "They do a lot of press and knocking on doors. Parents are constantly inundated with mailings." Still, some families find the charter environment too punitive and the communication with parents lacking, says Frazier, and many children end up returning to PS 21.

Fifth-graders learn about the justice system with a group called Legal Lives, setting up mock courtrooms and visiting actual courtrooms. A STEM grant from the Brooklyn Borough President's office allowed the school to start a robotics program and brought new technology to the school, including a computer station that incorporates engineering programs.

Brooklyn Children's Services runs an after school program from 3-6 pm that can accommodate only about 140 students. There is a Boy Scouts troop and a mentoring program for boys. Children learn the fundamentals of social interaction in a group called Bailey's Club that meets twice a week. Intramural sports teams play in the gym.

Special Education: PS 21 has both small self-contained classes for special needs children only, and Integrated Co-Teaching classes; about 14 percent of the students qualify for special education services. Children from a District 75 program in the building are included in PS 21 classrooms when possible, the principal said, as are those in self-contained classrooms. As of September 2014, the school begins an ASD program for high-functioning students on the autism spectrum.

Admission: Neighborhood school. There is usually room for students from outside the zone and sometimes even the district. School tours are held regularly. (Pamela Wheaton, January 2014)

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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 2017-18 NYC School Survey

How many teachers say order and discipline are maintained at this school?
81% Citywide Average
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 2016-17 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 2017-18 School Quality Guide

How many teachers have 3 or more years of experience teaching?
78% 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?
50% Citywide Average
How many elementary school students scored 3-4 on the state reading exam?
49% 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 2017-18 School Quality Guide

Average daily attendance
93% Citywide Average
How many students miss 18 or more days of school?
25% Citywide Average

From 2018 School Directories

Pre-K seats
3-K seats

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?
26% 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


Bedford-Stuyvesant (District 16)
Trains: A Line, C Line to Utica Ave
Buses: B15, B25, B26, B46, B47, B65, B7


Leslie Frazier
Parent Coordinator

Other Details

Shared campus?
This school is in its own building.

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

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