P.S. 176 Cambria Heights
Strong test scores, popular gifted and talented program
Most 4th- and 5th-graders housed in nearby middle school while building is renovated
PS 176 in Cambria Heights is a school with solid academics that is deeply rooted in this middle-class, African American community of quiet streets and tidy single-family homes. Longtime principal Arlene Bartlett provides steady leadership for the benefit of all studentsincluding those with special needs and those who come from across the district for the gifted and talented program. In 2015-16, there were also three pre-kindergarten classes.
PS 176 continues to be one of the higher scoring schools in the district, and the classrooms reflect an institutional culture that values hard work and order. The hallways are quiet, and, for the most part, students move through them in orderly lines. In most classes we saw on our visit, students worked on assignments at their desk or listened while a teacher taught from a SMART Board. Students were engaged, and classrooms were colorful with much student work and instructional material posted on the walls. Some of the classes in younger grades were more informal: In one kindergarten class, eager students sat on the rug for a presentation from a nature enrichment group, excitedly predicting the hidden animal with scaly skin that starts with S. The students were thrilled that snake was correct, some cringing and some gleeful as the animal handler brought the snake to each student in turn.
The school uses the Go Math curriculum for all grades. For reading, k-2 classes rely on the ReadyGen, supplemented by novels in 2nd grade. The older elementary students use Expeditionary Learning for reading and language arts, supplemented by novels. The school also has a Saturday Academy that provides extra help for 3rd- through 5th-graders in reading and math. For 2nd-graders, theres a Sunrise Academy, which provides extra reading instruction in the mornings before school.
The school has a number of enrichment programs offered during the school day. Fourth-graders participate in a competitive international program called Future Problem Solvers, in which they are presented with a challenge set in the future and must develop a plan to solve the problem. All students receive art classes, and they create colorful art projects as seen on the school website. Students also receive music and dance. The school has a partnership with the New York Historical Society, through which 4th-graders will write a play that will be performed. All grades have physical education, and the school is active in the New York Road Runners Mighty Milers program.
An outside group provides after-school services until 6:30 pm every day for a small fee. The program includes homework help, athletics and classes such as cooking and keyboarding.
Most 4th-graders and all 5th-graders are currently housed in a nearby middle school during the construction of a new addition to the school building, which is expected to be complete in Fall 2016.
SPECIAL EDUCATION: Each grade but first grade has one integrated co-teaching classroom (ICT) in which children with special needs learn side-by-side with children in the general education program. There is also a small self-contained classroom for kindergartners and first graders with significant disabilities.
ADMISSIONS: PS 176 is a neighborhood school with limited room for out-of-zone children. Students are placed in the gifted program by the Department of Education based on their score on two citywide assessments. (Elizabeth Daniel, open house, December 2015)