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Compass Charter School

Grades: Pre-K, K-5
300 Adelphi Street
Brooklyn NY 11205
Phone: 212-437-8372

Our Insights

What’s Special

Multiracial school with an emphasis on inquiry and exploration

The Downside

Some concerns about discipline and order

Compass Charter, an arts and sustainability-minded school in Brooklyn’s Fort Greene neighborhood, has a garden, an eco-team and classrooms named for trees found in nearby Fort Greene Park. The school emphasizes exploration and play and has a policy of no homework in the lowest grades.

Families come from a range of economic circumstances. Some walk from the single or multi-family brick homes in the area; others get on a school bus in Prospect Heights, or outside the Farragut, Walt Whitman or Fenimore-Lefferts public housing developments. Parents work as artists, police officers, musicians, teachers, filmmakers and store clerks. It is an unusually multiracial, multiethnic school community.

"We started Compass to provide a progressive educational model to children who typically don't get access to progressive education: children from economically disadvantaged backgrounds and children with special needs," says co-founder Brooke Peters. "Our definition of sustainability includes the living environment, social justice and economic justice."

The school’s three founders came from the progressive Community Roots, another District 13 charter school. They drew inspiration for Compass from a cross-country journey dubbed the Odyssey Initiative, during which they visited 41 successful schools in 16 states. Peters, a former kindergarten and 1st grade teacher with literacy expertise, and Michelle Healy, a math specialist trained in special education, spend most of their time supporting teachers, while the third partner, Todd Sutler, formerly co-teacher with Healy, oversees operations and finance.

The school day runs 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. four days a week, and until 1:00 p.m. on Wednesday to allow for teacher meetings and training. The longer day provides the equivalent of three extra weeks of instruction, founders say.

Classrooms are informal and inviting, with rugs, blocks, books, plants and animals. School leaders describe the instruction as "inquiry-based": Students ask their own questions and set out to find answers. They might observe the habits of mealworms, for instance, writing down what they notice and keeping charts about what mealworms eat.

The school uniform consists of different colored t-shirts with the name of the school on the front. "Kids need time to explore and inquire,” Peters says. “We do a lot of stuff that's going to mess up their clothes: papier-mâché, painting, working in a garden, and a lot of walking."

There are two teachers in every classroom. All classes incorporate students with special needs, who make up roughly one-quarter of the school population. "The more teachers in the room, the more small groups you can have," says Healy. Additionally, teachers "loop," keeping the same group of students for two years; K-1, 2-3 and 4-5.

Test scores in the school’s first year of testing were low. In response, the founders hired a part-time math coach and a literacy coach, and offered optional test prep after school twice a week, for six weeks, for 3rd- and 4th-graders, in addition to other measures.

Parents don’t seem worried. One praises the fact that kids get a “good foundation for how to think and solve problems.” Several say they appreciate that their children enjoy learning, which is not how some of their friends’ kids feel at more structured schools with higher scores.

“The school's aim is for children to engage deeply with their work, rather than to push them to learn as much as possible as quickly as possible,” one father tells InsideSchools.

Some teachers flagged discipline and order as a work-in-progress on school surveys. In most classrooms we visited, two or more kids stood or sat on the margins of the group during a lesson, sometimes by choice, and sometimes as a disciplinary act, called "take a break," to allow a child to regain self-control. Sutler says the school follows the Responsive Classroom approach, in which accommodations are made for students who need different kinds of support. 

The father of a kindergartner and a 4th-grader notes that the older grades were “more chaotic than anyone wanted” in the school’s first few years, but he commends the responsiveness of the co-founders, and says he has seen improvement over the years. "We have seen a dramatic improvement in this area," said Peters in an email.

To ensure a diverse student body, the school has set aside 40 percent of its seats to students who qualify for free or reduced price lunch. Compass has had to recruit heavily within a five-mile radius to meet this goal as other schools also vie to fill their own set-aside quotas, Sutler says. At the time of our visit, Compass had roughly 32 percent from this demographic.

The school shares a building with MS 113, and PS 372, a District 75 program for children with special needs.

ADMISSIONS: Lottery, with priority given to children in District 13. The school accepts new students in every grade. (Lydie Raschka, February 2018)

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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?
45%
79% Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?
65%
81% Citywide Average
How many teachers say they would recommend this school to other families?
77%
83% Citywide Average

From 2017-18 NY State Report Card

How many students were suspended?
11%
1% Citywide Average
Teacher turnover rate
36%
35% Citywide Average

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%
51% Citywide Average
How many elementary school students scored 3-4 on the state reading exam?
49%
49% Citywide Average

Who does this school serve?

From 2018-19 Demographic Snapshot

Enrollment
330
Asian
7%
Black
23%
Hispanic
11%
White
52%
Other
8%
Free or reduced priced lunch
25%
Students with disabilities
21%
English language learners
3%

From 2018-19 School Quality Guide

Average daily attendance
100%
93% Citywide Average

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%
28% Citywide Average
How many students with disabilities scored 3-4 on the state reading exam?
20%
23% Citywide Average


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

Contact & Location

Location

Fort Greene (District 13)

Contact

Principal
Brooke Peters

Other Details

Shared campus?
Yes
This school shares the building with MS 113
Metal detectors?
No

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