This week, thousands of kids across the city will don their backpacks, clip on their helmets and zoom off to school. Yes, Thursday marks the first day of public school in New York City. And while some students have the luxury of walking to school – or gliding on their scooters – many New York City families schlep on the subway or brave morning traffic to get school every day.

It’s All About the Zone!

As many a bleary-eyed parent of pre-K tot knows, New York City is broken up into several large districts and each encompass another set of smaller and more specific school zones. When it comes to the intersection of where you live and where your kid can go to school, it’s the zone that matters.

Parents study maps, attend seminars and scour Department of Education reports and to hone in on zones that combine good schools and with affordable real estate. Ask any parent and they’ll tell you. Navigating the confusing New York City school city system, coupled with the equally, if not more confusing housing market, is a major source of stress.

10 NYC Schools That Receive High Marks

To reduce some of those headaches (and heartaches), StreetEasy found 10 schools across the city with high marks from both the Department of Education and Insideschools and all the available for-sale and for-rent homes zoned for those schools.

To help identify the schools for our list, we first focused on two metrics from the Department of Education – the performance score and the impact score.

  • Impact score is calculated by comparing the school to the comparison group of similar students (based on factors such as incoming test scores, disability status, and economic need.)
  • Performance score is based on how the school’s results compared to the citywide average.

We then cross-referenced selected schools that had high performance and impact scores from the Department of Education with Insideschool’s reviews to collate objective and subjective data. All the schools featured on our list were deemed an Insideschools’ Pick, which refers to a school that in the opinion of their staff  “serves the community well… and strives to create an atmosphere in which staff, children and parents can work together productively.”

The schools on the list range across Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens. See the map below for the locations of the selected schools, their corresponding zones, and links to search for sales and rentals in those zones. Following the map, there’s a brief summary on the school and its surrounding neighborhood.

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P.S. 172 Beacon School of Excellence

825 4th Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11232 


Strong, stable leadership. Engaged teachers and in-depth extracurricular programs.The principal and vice principal have held their positions for more than 30 years and encourage creative curricula with strong results in math and science.

Admissions Information

The school is zoned and students from the neighborhood take up almost all spaces. The school does admit some students from elsewhere in District 15, but may not know if it has space until September. Seats are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis with an eye toward maintaining diversity and not overburdening special education services.


P.S. 172 is on 4th Avenue in Greenwood, a neighborhood sandwiched between the South Slope and Sunset Park. As such, Greenwood is a perfect blend of its surrounding areas – mixing a bit of the South Slope’s low-key Brooklyn lifestyle with Sunset Park’s large and vibrant Latino community. Given its diversity and laid-back ambiance, Greenwood is a great place for families – more affordable than the Slope and fewer helicopter parents to boot. With Sunset Park close by there is plenty of green space for the kids to enjoy as well.

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For more information on this school, refer to reviews on the Department of Education website and Insideschools.

P.S. 158 Bayard Taylor

1458 York Avenue, Manhattan, NY 10075


Strong leadership. Historic, well-maintained building and grounds. Thoughtful and dynamic integration of technology into the classroom. Artistic and creative extracurricular programming with local cultural organizations.

Admissions Information

Zoned, neighborhood school with four, full-day pre-k classes. The school typically fills its pre-k seats with zoned students only.


P.S. 158 is located on York Avenue on the Upper East Side. Although it’s a hike from Central Park and the Lexington Avenue subway, the distance removes it from the busy tourist and commercial activity along 5th and Madison. The area surrounding the school has a more down-to-earth, neighborhood feel compared to the avenues closer to the park. York and First feature more low-key and affordable dining and shopping compared to what you’ll find on Lex. Though the green space at Carl Schurz Park has less renown than Central Park, it makes a great place for kids to run around. Housing in this part of Upper East is usually far more affordable than areas further west.

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For more information on this school, refer to reviews on the Department of Education website and Insideschools.

P.S. 31 Samuel F. Dupont

75 Meserole Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11222


Highly structured curriculum and academics are balanced with collaborative learning, group work and discussions. The school mixes traditional modes of learning and teaching practices with innovative and creative lesson plans.

Admissions Information

Zoned, neighborhood school. PS 31 typically has room for students living outside its zone.


greenpoint family

P.S. 31 is located on Meserole Street in the heart of Greenpoint. The student body reflects the neighborhood’s changing demographics, drawing off both the large and longstanding Polish community as well as the new, young professionals and creative types who have recently moved in. What makes Greenpoint a good neighborhood for families is the old-school community coupled with its relative isolation. As such, the neighborhood has a quiet, small town feel, which can be great for young families. With home prices still lower than neighboring Williamsburg and Long Island City, Greenpoint offers a good option for families looking for an eclectic place to raise a family.

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For more information on this school, refer to reviews on the Department of Education website and Insideschools.

P.S. 203 Oakland Gardens

53-11 Springfield Blvd., Queens, NY 11364


One of five schools in the city to receive a Blue Ribbon from the U.S. Department of Education for students’ academic achievement and improvement. Very strong arts and music programming.

Admissions Information

P.S. 203 is a zoned neighborhood school that has seen some overcrowding in recent years

bayside queens House


P.S. 203 is located in Bayside, Queens, a middle class enclave on the northeastern edge of the borough known for its high quality schools, ample green space and views of the Long Island Sound. The area, in many ways, feels like a suburb in the city. Single-family homes with garages predominate, there are tons of public recreational spaces and a strong sense of community pride. There’s no getting around it, Bayside is a bit of a commute from the city — about a 30-minute LIRR ride into Penn Station and closer to 60 minutes by car. But you’ll find prices far less than Manhattan and Brooklyn, though slightly more expensive than the rest of Queens.

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For more information on this school, refer to reviews on the Department of Education website and Insideschools.

P.S. 40 Augustus Saint-Gaudens

319 East 19th Street, Manhattan, NY 10003


Close-knit, engaged community of students, parents and staff. Experienced and committed teaching staff. Teachers participate in continuing education courses at Columbia’s Teacher’s College. Robust arts, music and physical education programming.

Admissions Information

Neighborhood school. At the time of our 2014 visit, there was one full-day pre-K class comprised entirely of siblings who already attend P.S. 40.


P.S. 40 is located on East 19th Street in Gramercy. While Gramercy is famous for its gated park, exclusive co-ops, upscale surroundings and older residents, the school is on the eastern edge of the neighborhood between 1st and 2nd Avenues. This situates it in a less stuffy and more laid-back pocket just west of Peter Cooper Village. Along 2nd and 1st Avenues, you’ll find lots of small playgrounds and basketball courts. Off the main avenues, the blocks are shady and relatively quiet featuring a mix of walk-ups and large apartment buildings with doormen. Although real estate in this area is pricey, Peter Cooper Village and Stuy Town offer slightly more affordable alternatives for families looking to rent within P.S. 40’s zoned boundaries.

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For more information on this school, refer to reviews on the Department of Education website and Insideschools.

P.S. 041 Greenwich Village

116 West 11th St., Manhattan, NY 10011


Nationally-recognized writing program. Impressive teaching staff with great facilities. Active families and a very well-endowed PTA. Serious academics balanced with warm, student-first environment.

Admissions Information  

The school was once severely overcrowded, with persistent waitlists for kindergarten. The opening of a new school, The Sixth Avenue School, has eased the problem and waitlists are “manageable,” the parent coordinator said.


greenwich village families

P.S. 40 is located on West 11th Street in the Greenwich Village. Known for its high-end boutiques, finely curated restaurants and cocktail bars and incredibly expensive real estate, Greenwich Village does not scream kid-friendly. That said, for those who can afford it, the neighborhood is a wonderful place to raise a family. The streets are quiet and intimate, giving the neighborhood a bucolic, calm feel. Between Hudson River Park, Washington Square Park and the numerous pocket playgrounds, there is no shortage of green space for kids to enjoy. You won’t find tons of strollers or kid-focused amenities in the area, though. It goes without saying that Greenwich Village is geared towards a sophisticated and cosmopolitan adult set.

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For more information on this school, refer to reviews on the Department of Education website and Insideschools.

P.S. 452

100 West 77th St., Manhattan, NY 10024 


A relatively new school, but considered one of the best in District 3. Excellent dance and music programming. Active PTA. Strong writing curriculum.

Admissions Information

P.S. 452 is a zoned school and was recently opened to ease overcrowding in nearby elementary schools on the Upper West Side

Neighborhood: P.S. 452 is located on West 77th Street on the Upper West Side. You couldn’t ask for a more kid-friendly place for a school. P.S. 452 is around the corner from the American History Museum – just about every city kid’s favorite cultural institution – and a block from Central Park. What makes the school’s location so ideal is also what makes the neighborhood at large so good for families. The Upper West Side is the perfect blend of the perks of city – think good restaurants, shopping and culture – with the benefits of a family-focused community – tons of green space, amazing grocery stores, religious institutions and the like. For family homes, prices range. You’ll pay a pretty penny for a townhouse or a condo on CPW, but there are deals to be found in older pre-war buildings.

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For more information on this school, refer to reviews on the Department of Education website and Insideschools.

P.S. 89

201 Warren St., Manhattan, NY 10282


Popular, highly regarded Downtown school with modern facilities. Carefully structured and planned curriculum. The school’s leadership is seasoned and dedicated. Active PTA. 

Admissions Information

P.S. 89 is a neighborhood school and accepts 75 kindergartners each year. Since 2012, only children living in the northern portion of Battery Park City are eligible to attend. Tours are offered from December through February. Admission to the school’s half-day pre-K program is by lottery.


battery park city families

P.S. 89 is located on Warren Street right at the border of Tribeca and Battery Park City. While some Tribeca residents would be loath to live in BPC and vice versa, the two neighborhoods ultimately share a very similar, family-oriented ethos. Battery Park City has a more corporate, pre-fabricated feel – it was, after all developed as a designated residential community. The combination of low-trafficked blocks, pocket parks and high-rise residential towers make the neighborhood a sort of condo-dense suburb in the city. This draws a stark comparison to Tribeca, where you’ll find rows of former lofts and warehouses converted into luxury condos and tons of high-end boutiques and restaurants.

Despite their aesthetic differences, the two are both very much geared towards kids with tons of park space, extracurricular programs and kid-focused amenities. Tribeca, however, has some of the most expensive real estate in the city and Battery Park City, though once thought of as a more affordable, practical alternative has seen strong and steady growth in the past decade.

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For more information on this school, refer to reviews on the Department of Education website and Insideschools.

P.S. 199 Jessie Isador Straus

270 West 70th St., Manhattan, NY 10023


One of the most highly sought-after elementary schools in District 3. Very nice facilities include large and sunny classrooms. Solid, long-standing leadership. Strong writing curriculum. Active PTA with highly lucrative fundraising campaigns.

Admissions Information

Neighborhood school. Due to overcrowding in recent years, not all children who live in the zone have been offered seats. There is often a waitlist for kindergarten.


P.S. 199 is located in Lincoln Square at 270 West 70th Street between Amsterdam and West End Avenue. Sandwiched between the Upper West Side and Midtown West, Lincoln Square offers a convenient location, but not much by way of community ambiance. It’s replete with big residential towers and low on trees, street life and stoop culture. What it lacks in neighborly intimacy, however, it makes up for in amenities. Lincoln Center has tons of major big box grocery and department stores as well as several high-end ones, movie theaters and restaurants. Central Park borders the neighborhood to the east and Riverside Park on the west. Then, of course, there are the countless museums and cultural institutions that draw droves of tourists and cosmopolitan types. Families certainly can take advantage of these resources, but for those looking for more peace and quiet and neighborly vibes should consider elsewhere.

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For more information on this school, refer to reviews on the Department of Education website and Insideschools.

P.S. 196 Grand Central Parkway

71-25 113th St., Queens, NY 11375


According to Insideschools, P.S. 196 is a “destination school” that parents relocate to. Rigorous and demanding coursework balanced with arts and music programming. Lots of extracurricular activities; Saturday school available for students requiring extra support.

Admissions Information

P.S. 196 is a zoned school.


forest hills queens

P.S. 196 is located at 71-25 113th Street in Forest Hills just on the other side of the Grand Central Parkway from Corona Park. Although proximity to a major highway is not the most idyllic or bucolic setting for an elementary school, the neighborhood has a deeply suburban feel. Forest Hills is known for its leafy streets and large, single-family Tudor-style homes. With direct access to Manhattan via the F line, the neighborhood is a good option for families with parents who work in Midtown and want to maintain a connection to city life while also embracing the perks of suburban living. The area is not cheap, but you will find large homes with more bedrooms for less than you would in Manhattan or Brooklyn. 

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For more information on this school, refer to reviews on the Department of Education website and Insideschools.