My daughter is in kindergarten at PS 196. There are 25 kids in her class and one teacher. A learning leader comes in during the afternoons on Monday, Wednesdays & Fridays.

PS 196 has a lot of overcrowding issues. I heard that one second grade class has a teacher to student ratio of 32 to 1. Despite these ratios, my daughter's behavior has really improved since she attended the school. The kindergarteners are given "jobs" (pencil monitor, paper monitor), so they learn a lot about responsibility. She's really good right now at following direction, which she's learned from her jobs in the classroom.

The student population at the school is almost half Asian and there is a big emphasis on the school achieving high test scores and the kids doing a lot of homework. My daughter is bringing home a book each night that she's being expected to read and return the next day. It's not surprising that PS 196 is ranked #3 in all NYC public schools on the NY state assessment tests in English Language Arts.

The school has some of the highest test scores in the city on the NY state assessment tests. For example, my daughter takes science twice a week and I think the reason for it is because the kids get tested in fourth grade in science on the NY state assessment tests. In fact, the school puts on its electronic sign outside the school the general score it received from the state on this test.

Given the emphasis on test scores, I think the school's class curriculum could be more creative. She doesn't really do as many arts & crafts projects or learn songs as much as she did in other schools.

The staff has given the school the name "The School With a Heart" and I do think they sincerely care about their students. The principal and assistant principal have a "Coffee and Conversation" meeting once a month before the school day begins so parents can come in and ask them questions about their children.

From what I've gathered talking to the other parents, there are two groups of teachers at the school. The younger crop of teachers are using email to communicate with parents, are comfortable with the smart boards to teach and are really interested in engaging the students.

Then you have the tenured teachers who are kind of overwhelmed with the new technology, looking forward to retiring and seem more apathetic towards their jobs.

The Parents Association (from what I've seen and heard) is like a fine-tuned machine. They run a lot of fundraisers and are highly organized.

Overall, my daughter is happy at this school. She loves her teachers and her classmates and she's certainly learning more than I could have ever imagined learning at age five.