Washington Heights Expeditionary Learning School

An Insideschools pick
511 WEST 182ND STREET
MANHATTAN NY 10033 Map
Phone: (212) 781-0524
Website: Click here
Admissions: District 6
Principal: Thomas Rochowicz
Neighborhood: Washington Heights
District: 6
Grade range: PK-1, 6-12
Number of full-day PK seats: 36
Extended PK hours offered: No
Humanities & Interdisciplinary
Unzoned
Wheelchair Accessible
Full Day
School-based pre-k

Buses: Bx11, Bx13, Bx18, Bx3, Bx35, Bx7, M100, M101, M3, M4, M5, M98

What's special:

A K-12 school where children may explore their own interests

The downside:

Elementary school has no track record

InsideSchools Review

Our review:

Washington Heights Expeditionary Learning School, better known as WHEELS, is built on the premise that children learn best when they have activities and trips that allow them to explore the world around them. Kindergartners work in a school garden and visit the Bronx Botanical Garden to learn how plants grow. High school students visit organic farms to learn about the food supply and travel to the Indian Point nuclear power plant to learn about energy.

Founded as a middle and high school in 2006, WHEELS added a pre-K and kindergarten classes in 2014 and will add a grade each year until it serves K-12.

The elementary school, which had pre-k through 1st grade when we attended an open house in 2015, is housed in portable classrooms across the street from the main building. During "choice time," small children may pick an activity such as playing with blocks, playing dress up, reading or writing. Children may also choose where to sit—on a chair if they find the rug scratchy, for example. Science and social studies lessons are woven into trips to local parks, the farmers market, and the Queens Hall of Science. Pre-kindergartners have a one-hour nap.

The elementary school, designed as Spanish-English dual language program, was a work in progress at the time of our visit. The middle and high school, on the other hand, have a proven track record. Even though most students enter reading below grade, about three-quarters graduate on time and most go on to college.

The middle and high school grades share a modern four-story building with IS 143 Eleanor Roosevelt. The building includes a health clinic and dental office, providing free services, but it lacks any significant outdoor space, so WHEELS has no recess period. Well-behaved WHEELS high school students are allowed to go off campus during lunch. The school offers a range of after-school sports, but students must often take subways or buses to athletic fields on Randalls Island or in the Bronx.

Like all Expeditionary Learning schools, WHEELS has a hands-on curriculum with an emphasis on building student character and forming a long-term advisory bond with a teacher. NYC Outward Bound Schools is a lead partner with the school and supports the expeditionary learning concept, by offering camping trips and rock-climbing courses as well as ongoing teacher training and an instructional guide.

Every year, seniors march three blocks to the post office so each could drop college applications in the mail. A police escort halts traffic, and the rest of the student body lines the route to loudly cheer the procession.

WHEEL offers a range of instrumental music courses (the school has three bands), plus a popular after-school drama club. Instead of parent-teacher conferences, WHEELS has regular "student-led conferences" in which students display a portfolio of their work to family members and an advisor, and set goals for future performance. Thomas Rochowicz became principal in 2015, replacing the founding principal, Brett Kimmel.

On our 2012 visit, students we spoke to praised their teachers' dedication, and most said the school felt like a small, supportive family where they feel encouraged to succeed. Yesica, a 17-year-old senior active in sports and the drama club, said she spends so much time at WHEELS that "my mom asks me all the time, 'How's your first home?' " Rules of good conduct were strictly enforced (students who disrupt class quickly earn detention, and repeat offenders are suspended), and even informational talks in the auditorium are structured to prevent chitchat (students must leave an open seat between one another). Yet no one seemed to chafe at the rigid structure, which kept classrooms and halls orderly.

Special education: WHEELS offers integrated co-teaching (ICT) classes in which students with special needs are taught with other students in classrooms that have two teachers, one of whom is certified to teach special ed. The school also has special services, known as SETTS.

Admissions: The school offers regular tours. District 6 priority. (Skip Card, October, 2012; updated with elementary school visit, Mahalia Watson, December 2015)

K-8 InsideStats

Click tabs above to see school stats

At a glance

Shared campus? Yes

This school shares the building with JHS 143

Number of Students 705

Average Daily Attendance 89%

Students at this school

Asian

  
1%

Black

  
3%

Hispanic

  
94%

White

  
2%

Free Lunch

  
100%

Special ed

  
19%

English Language Learners

  
18%

Safety & vibe

ARE KIDS
NICE?

How many teachers say bullying is a problem at school?

48% 22% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many teachers say order and discipline are maintained in the school?

97% 84% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

ARE CLASSES BIG?

Number of students in an average kindergarten class

20 22 CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Number of students in an average fifth grade class

NA 26 CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Number of students in an average middle school english class

29 26 CITYWIDE AVERAGE

DO TEACHERS LIKE THE SCHOOL?

How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?

88% 85% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many teachers would recommend this school to other parents?

94% 86% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Attendance

How many students are chronically absent?

18% 21% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Academics

How many teachers say this school offers enough programs, classes and activities to keep students engaged?

NA 78% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many teachers say this school does a good job teaching social-emotional skills?

82% 84% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many teachers say this school does a good job teaching organizational and study skills?

NA 87% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Percent of students in grades 3-8 who scored 3 or 4 on the state math exam

28% 38% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Percent of students in grades 3-8 who scored 3 or 4 on the state ela exam

25% 31% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Percent of 4th graders who scored 3 or 4 on the state science exam

NA 82% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Percent of 8th graders who scored 3 or 4 on the state science exam

80% 57% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many 8th grades pass high school regents exams?

Percent of 8th graders who take and pass the algebra regents:

0% 13% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Percent of 8th graders who take and pass a science regents:

0% 17% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Parents

Are parents involved?

How many parents responded to the school survey?

42% 57% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many parents say they attended at least one pta meeting in the last school year?

NA 69% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Does the school encourage family involvement?

How many parents say they were invited to an event at the school at least 3 times in the last school year?

NA 71% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Do parents like the school?

How many parents would recommend this school to other parents?

NA 93% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Special ed & ELL

How well does this school serve students with disabilities?

Percent of self-contained students who scored 3 or 4 on the state math exam:

0% 5% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Percent of self-contained students who scored 3 or 4 on the state ELA exam:

0% 2% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Percent of ICT students who scored 3 or 4 on the state math exam:

0% 14% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Percent of ICT students who scored 3 or 4 on the state ELA exam:

9% 8% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Percent of SETSS students who scored 3 or 4 on the state math exam:

NA 15% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Percent of SETSS students who scored 3 or 4 on the state ELA exam:

NA 9% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many parents say students with disabilities are included in all activities?

NA 97% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many teachers say students with special needs are educated in the least restrictive environment appropriate?

79% 93% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many parents of students with ieps say this school offers a wide enough variety of services and activities for their children’s needs?

79% 88% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How well does this school serve English language learners?

Percent of ell students who scored 3 or 4 on the state ELA exam:

15% 4% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Percent of former ell students who scored 3 or 4 on the state ELA exam:

27% 21% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many teachers say this school ensures that ells receive the same curriculum as non-ells with appropriate suppports?

NA 88% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

HS InsideStats

Click tabs above to see school stats

At a glance

Shared campus? Yes

This school shares the building with JHS 143

Number of Students 705

Average Daily Attendance 89%

Uniforms? Yes

Metal detectors? No

Students at this school

Asian

  
1%

Black

  
3%

Hispanic

  
94%

White

  
2%

Free Lunch

  
100%

Special ed

  
19%

English Language Learners

  
18%

INCOMING STUDENTS' PROFICIENCY: 2.44 2.38 CITYWIDE AVERAGE


1 = Far below grade level 2 = Below grade level 3 = At grade level 4 = Above grade level

Middle school students reading at grade level:

NA 28% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Middle school students doing math at grade level:

NA 29% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Safety & vibe

ARE CLASSES BIG?

Number of students in an average english class

27 25 CITYWIDE AVERAGE

DO STUDENTS LIKE THE TEACHERS?

How many students say their teachers inspire them to learn?

73% 63% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

DO TEACHERS LIKE THE PRINCIPAL?

How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?

88% 82% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

IS THIS SCHOOL SAFE?

How many students say they feel safe in hallways, bathrooms and locker rooms?

94% 85% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

 
 

How many teachers say order and discipline are maintained in the school?

97% 82% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

HOW IS
ATTENDANCE?

How Many Students are Chronically Absent?

44% 36% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Who graduates

Class of 2015

How many students graduated within 4 years?

74% 69% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many graduates earned an advanced regents diploma within 4 years?

13% 11% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many students graduated within 6 years?

89% 77% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many graduates dropped out within 4 years?

4% 10% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

College prep

Does this school offer a college preparatory curriculum?

How many students took an AP or IB class and scored at least a "3" on the AP exam or a "4" on the IB exam?

42%

How Many Students took a College Course and Got a "C" or Higher?

7%

How many students passed a Regents exam for algebra 2, physics or chemistry?

14%

Are students ready for college?

How many students graduated in four years with test scores high enough to enroll at CUNY without remedial help?

52% 32% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

SAT reading scores

423
423 CITYWIDE AVERAGE 495 NATIONWIDE AVERAGE

How many students graduated in four years and enrolled in college?

72% 64% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

SAT math scores

443
431 CITYWIDE AVERAGE 511 NATIONWIDE AVERAGE

Is the guidance counseling helpful?

How many students say that this school provides helpful counseling on college or job-seeking?

80% 76% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Special ed & ELL

How well does this school serve students with disabilities?

How many special ed students graduated within 4 years?

NA 48% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many special ed students graduated within 6 years?

NA 57% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many students with disabilities spend most of the day with non-disabled peers?

100% 68% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many teachers say students with disabilities are included in all activities?

97% 97% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How well does this school serve English language learners?

How many English language learners graduated within 4 years?

47% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many English language learners graduated within 6 years?

55% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Programs and Admissions

School admission priorities:

  1. Priority to continuing 8th graders
  2. Then to District 6 students or residents who attend an information session
  3. Then to New York City residents who attend an information session
  4. Then to District 6 students or residents
  5. Then to New York City residents

Source: High school directory 2015-2016

Washington Heights Expeditionary Learning School

Limited Unscreened

Students participate in interdisciplinary learning across all subject areas.

Academics

AP COURSES: Calculus, English, Spanish, Statistics

Source: High school directory 2015-2016

Sports/Clubs

EXTRACURRICULAR: Academic Tutoring, Aerobics, Band, College Trips, Drama, Homework Help, School Newspaper, Student Government and Planning Committee, Yearbook; Club offerings will expand based on school growth and student interest

BOYS PSAL SPORTS: Baseball, Basketball, Cross Country, Soccer

GIRLS PSAL SPORTS: Cross Country, Flag Football, Indoor Track, Outdoor Track, Soccer

Other schools sports: Baseball, Basketball, Track

Source: High school directory 2015-2016

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