• Category 2

    Selected in 2018

  • Grades: pre k - 5
    School Setting: urban
    Town Population: 2,649,000
    Student Enrollment: 575
    Student Demographics:

    Black/African American: 3.8%
    White/Caucasian: 14.4%
    Hispanic: 73.2%
    Hawaiian/Pacific Islander: 0%
    Asian: 7.8%
    Native American: 0.2%
    Other: 0.5%

    Teacher/Student Ratio: 1:12
    % Reduced Lunch: 87%
    % ELL Learners: 24.5%
    Founded: 1908
  • PRINCIPAL:
    Erika Gundersen
  • CONTACT:
    825 4th Ave
    Brooklyn, NY 11232
    718-965-4200
    EGunder@schools.nyc.gov
PS 172 Beacon School of Excellence
Brooklyn, NY
“Our school's approach to working with our "at-risk" students is an important part of our success."
Describe the program or initiative that has had the greatest positive effect on student achievement, including closing achievement or opportunity gaps, if applicable.
The instructional initiative that has had the greatest impact on student achievement has been our collaborative intervention program. Our overall instructional program is based on a collaborative model of instruction. In this model, intervention services are provided to students in flexible groups, by grade specific collaborative teachers and service providers between 3 and 5 periods each day.
During periods of collaborative instruction, two or more parallel lessons are being delivered simultaneously. Each lesson is customized to meet the needs of the specific group of students the teacher is working with. After each lesson, the teachers and service providers further individualize each child’s instructional experience by working with individual students or targeted groups of students, helping them refine their independent application of the skills and strategies learned.
Describe how data is used to improve student achievement and inform decision making.
Our school has several structures in place to ensure that data is regularly reviewed and used to inform our decision making. Every week, grade level teams, content area coaches and school administrators meet for 80 consecutive minutes to review and/or revise instructional plans to ensure they meet the specific needs of our students. The grade level meetings are organized in a 4 week cycle:
Week 1: Review of assessment data - grading work against a rubric and using the data generated to make informed decisions about curriculum revision
2. Week 2: Review or individual student data, challenges and successes. Teachers and service providers use this time to share insights and techniques for effective instruction
3. Week 3: Curriculum revisions
4. Week 4: Focused on pedagogical growth. During this time teachers may consult professional literature, engage in inter-visitations or work in a “laboratory” classroom
Describe the most successful activity your school has initiated to strengthen ties to your community.
On the last Friday of each month, our school sponsors a "Parents as Learning Partners" event. During this time, all family members are invited into classrooms and become active participants in the days work. Teachers plan specifically for the event by selecting an appropriate read-alouds and crafting questions and comments designed to encourage conversation between parent and child. Teachers might use the time to set up editing workshops, utilizing parent expertise in spelling and grammar. The day may be used to launch a project that requires a parent interview or culminate a project by helping students construct their final presentations. All the work designed by teachers for these monthly events are crafted to give our families a deeper insight into the work we do in our classrooms.
Identify the critical professional development activities you use to improve teaching and student learning.
To support our teachers in their pedagogical work, PS 172 employs four content area coaches. There is one literacy and one math coach in the upper grades (3-5) and another literacy and math coach in the lower grades (pre-k-2). The coaches support teachers individually. They consider classroom observation data, a teacher’s personal goals and the school’s goals. Pedagogical goal(s) are fleshed out and short and long-range benchmarks are established against which they can assess their progress. A professional development plan is developed, detailing the work more specifically.
Coaches and administrators also work with teachers in grade level professional development, employing a "laboratory model". Teachers work together studying a new instructional technique followed by a real-time demonstration of that work with children in classrooms. A Debriefing session follows the demonstration and focuses on refining the technique.
Describe specific programs in place to ensure that families are involved in the success of your school and students.
Our school leadership team, made up of 50% parents and 50% school staff, works collaboratively to assess the effectiveness of our instructional programs, propose possible revisions and develop goals and objectives for our school's Comprehensive Educational Plan. The team ultimately provides support and direction for the many programs at work in our school, and ensures that goal-setting work is done in accordance with a common set of principles and includes measures for determining progress at regular intervals.
Another way we ensure our families are involved in the success of our school is our home messaging system. Our school uses "Class Dojo" a free, internet based messaging program that offers parents and teachers a way to communicate with one another via text. Teachers also use the program to showcase photos or short videos of the work going on in the classrooms, giving parents daily updates on the work their child is doing in the classroom.
Describe your philosophy of school change or improvement.
At P.S. 172 we believe that for a school to grow or change, the school community must support a culture of mutual accountability for high expectations. School leaders, teachers and staff at the school partner with families to support student progress toward those high expectations. Decisions are made collaboratively and are based on a shared, coherent set of beliefs.
Explain how ESEA federal funds are used to support your improvement efforts.
Because P.S. 172 is a school-wide projects school, our ESEA federal funds are consolidated to support and enhance our overall educational program.
Part of this spending plan includes support for the funding of our grade level "intervention" staff. ESEA funds also support our academic after-school program in which struggling students stay after school an additional 2-3 hours per week to work with their classroom teacher, essentially extending the school day for students in need. We use the funds to support our parents and families by purchasing books and materials prescribed by a student's "at-risk" plan, or by providing translation services for parents that require them.
What is the single most important factor in the success of your school that others could replicate?
Our school's approach to working with our "at-risk" students is an important part of our success. Our Intervention Program is built on a two tier system. Students are identified for intervention services by using a set of very specific selection criteria. This selection criteria further individualizes the process by naming students as a “Tier I intervention student” (students at risk of not meeting promotional criteria) or a “Tier II intervention student” (students at risk of not meeting grade level standards). After students are identified, teachers prepare an intervention plan outlining a goal for the intervention work and matching it to a specific assessment (or series of assessments) that measure a student’s progress in reaching that goal. The written plan is shared with parents and features a family component, specifying specific strategies families can use to support the intervention plan. Parents leave the meeting with supplies and materials to support their child.
What are your school’s top two goals for the next year?
PS 172's top two goals for the next school year focuses around our efforts to hone our work in project based learning and focus on issues of equity and diversity in our school. Our school has worked on implementing a successful project based learning approach. Initially, we worked on developing units that gave students a variety of ways to "show what they know". We followed this work up by incorporating self assessment benchmarks in the work. This led to work in peer assessment. Now, we are working with students to further develop their ability to evaluate their own and others' work with a more critical eye, resulting in actionable, immediate feedback. Another goal is to ensure that our school is truly welcoming and inclusive to our students and parents. We have evaluated our classroom libraries, our read-aloud selections and even our hallway displays. We want students to read books and engage in coursework that more adequately represents who they are and who they aspire to be.
Describe your school culture and explain changes you’ve taken to improve it.
At PS 172, creating an intellectually rigorous educational experience that both challenges and supports every learner has always been a fundamental part of our work. Our school embraces the notion that the best way to improve the achievement of students is to improve the quality of teaching. To support that work we recognize the need to develop teacher pedagogy from a coherent set of beliefs about how students learn best. That coherency is fostered through changes in the way our school day and year are organized. We use May/June planning sessions to support grade level teams as they develop yearlong curriculum calendars in all academic areas. The sessions begin with a full day of planning. Weekly 80 minute grade level meetings are held so that teachers can work together with coaches and administrators to adapt current and upcoming units of study. Our overall program also supports at least 4 grade level common preparation periods/week to encourage grade level teams to work together.
Stats
  • Category 2

    Selected in 2018

  • Grades: pre k - 5
    School Setting: urban
    Town Population: 2,649,000
    Student Enrollment: 575
    Student Demographics:

    Black/African American: 3.8%
    White/Caucasian: 14.4%
    Hispanic: 73.2%
    Hawaiian/Pacific Islander: 0%
    Asian: 7.8%
    Native American: 0.2%
    Other: 0.5%

    Teacher/Student Ratio: 1:12
    % Reduced Lunch: 87%
    % ELL Learners: 24.5%
    Founded: 1908
  • PRINCIPAL:
    Erika Gundersen
  • CONTACT:
    825 4th Ave
    Brooklyn, NY 11232
    718-965-4200
    EGunder@schools.nyc.gov