Mott Hall II

An Insideschools pick
An Insideschools pick for Special Education
234 WEST 109 STREET
MANHATTAN NY 10025 Map
Phone: (212) 678-2960
Website: Click here
Admissions: District 3 priority
Principal: Marlon Lowe
Neighborhood: Upper West Side
District: 3
Grade range: 6-8
Unzoned

What's special:

Small, welcoming school with diverse student population and accelerated curriculum

The downside:

Historic building’s quirks include a gym with padded pillars

InsideSchools Review

Our review:

Mott Hall II is a small, well-regarded Upper West Side middle school known for its nurturing attitude and diverse student population. The 300-plus students here receive a rigorous education in an environment that favors hands-on learning. The school's historic building has its drawbacks (as well as quirky charm) but students here genuinely seem to appreciate their teachers and enjoy their school.

The first clone of Harlem's pioneering Mott Hall School, it shares the landmark Robert E. Simon Educational Complex with PS/MS 165, a pre-k–8 school. Most Mott Hall II classrooms are on the fourth floor of the historic building, which features soaring ceilings, ample natural light and asphalt-coated outdoor play areas—as well as meandering narrow halls, ancient steam radiators, obtrusive support columns, no athletic fields and other architectural quirks.

Assistant Principal and Co-Director Marlon Lowe became the principal in fall 2013, after the death of longtime principal Anna de los Santos Tornatore. Teachers give him high marks on school surveys. The assistant principal is Marciarie Rodriquez, who also came from the Mott Hall teaching ranks. 

Modern projection screens and dry-erase boards have replaced dusty chalkboards, science labs have been implemented (two are mobile) and shared laptops are rolled in via cart. A multimedia room functions as a library most of the time, for personal and class use, and as a computer lab 25 percent of the time. 

Mott Hall II is often viewed as an undiscovered gem in District 3. Student test scores are more than respectable (particularly in math). On our visit we saw rooms full of students actively engaged in their projects. Some kids were learning ratios and proportions by calculating the changing sizes of Alice as she traveled through Wonderland. Others were enlarging a scale blueprint of Disney's "It's a Small World" amusement ride. Literary discussions included debating whether characters in S.E. Hinton's novel The Outsiders died happy.

Core subjects are taught at an accelerated pace (typically one year above grade level) in a project-based environment where teachers often lecture for no more than 15 minutes before students begin hands-on tasks. Sixth-graders are assigned to one of four classes, which travel as a group to different rooms. This practice makes the transition to middle school less intimidating, and it also allows students with special needs to more easily be included in mainstream studies within team-teaching classes. The 6th-grade curriculum has a heavy focus on math, science and humanities but also includes Spanish. Electives expand in 7th and 8th grade, but some courses such as French and instrumental music are offered only through the school's many after-school programs (which also includes science and business classes).

Eighth-graders can enroll in advanced biology and math courses to prepare them for the math and science Regents exams: in science, they take living environment, rather than the earth science offered in most District 3 schools, which allows them to take chemistry in ninth grade. Homework averages about one-and-a-half hours every weeknight, administrators say. Mott Hall II also has advisory classes and competent counselors offering guidance. Students we spoke to said they liked their teachers and praised the faculty's caring attitudes. "If you have outside problems, you can talk to them," one 8th-grade girl said.

Over 65 percent of students gain admission to their first choice high schools, according to Parent Coordinator Jory Plevel. About 25– 30 percent land a spot at specialized schools including LaGuardiaHigh School for Math, Science and EngineeringBronx ScienceBrooklyn Latin or Lehman. Others gain entrance to private schools including the Nightingale-Bamford School, Riverdale Country and Exeter, some with substantial scholarships. Roughly 50 percent attend popular schools like Beacon, Millennium, Bard, Columbia Secondary, NYC iSchool and Frank McCourt, and a smaller group opt for select special interest schools such as Young Women's Leadership, Quest to Learn and the Harbor School.

Special education: Students with special needs are assigned to team-teaching classes in which special ed and general ed students learn together with two teachers, one of whom is certified in special education. Mott Hall II also has a self-contained 12:1:1 class.

Admissions: Mott Hall II is a screened middle school open only to students in District 3. Mott Hall II looks for students who perform at or above grade level as noted on their 4th-grade year-end report cards. Potential students who rank Mott Hall II first take a reading, writing and math assessment administered by the school in late January/early February. ELA and math test scores are only "taken into account as part of the whole picture," the parent coordinator wrote to us in an email. (Skip Card, December 2012; updated by Lydie Raschka, via email, October 2014)

InsideStats

Click tabs above to see school stats

At a glance

Shared campus? Yes

This school shares the building with PS 165

Number of Students 345

Average Daily Attendance 97%

Uniforms? NA

Students at this school

Asian

  
6%

Black

  
26%

Hispanic

  
37%

White

  
26%

Free Lunch

  
50%

Special ed

  
19%

English Language Learners

  
2%

INCOMING STUDENTS' PROFICIENCY: NA 2.59 CITYWIDE AVERAGE


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

Safety & vibe

DO STUDENTS LIKE THE SCHOOL?

How many students say their teachers inspire them to learn?

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many students say this school offers enough programs to keep them interested?

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

ARE KIDS NICE?

How many students complain about bullying?

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many students say students at their school respect one another?

76% 49% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

100% 77% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

DO TEACHERS LIKE THE SCHOOL?

How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?

100% 80% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many teachers would recommend this school to other parents?

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

ARE CLASSES BIG?

Number of students in an average english class

NA 26 CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many students are chronically absent?

6% 23% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Academics

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

58% 29% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Percent of students who scored 3 or 4 on the state ela exam

69% hi 32% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

HS Prep

How many 8th graders pass high school regents exams?

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

32% 12% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

64% 17% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How do graduates do in 9th grade?

Percent who pass all their classes freshman year:

NA NA 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:

7% 3% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

7% 2% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

41% 9% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

27% 7% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

NA 13% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

NA 9% 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:

NA 2% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

NA 18% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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