University Neighborhood High School
MANHATTAN NY 10002 Map
University Neighborhood High School
Buses: M14A, M14D, M15, M21, M22, M9, X14, X37, X38
At University Neighborhood High School, spreadsheets cover one wall of principal Elizabeth Collins' office. The sheets contain the names of every University Neighborhood student, and blank boxes reveal what credits and Regents exams each student still needs to graduate.
The spreadsheets underscore Collins' determination to improve the school's graduation rate, which once was a dismal 48 percent but by 2011 had risen to 71 percent. Collins also points to her school's most recent Department of Education Progress Report grades, which have gone from a "D" to a "C-plus" since she took over in January 2010. The numbers quantify the general sense that University Neighborhood, once officially categorized as a school in need of improvement (or "SINI"), is making necessary fixes and heading in the right direction.
"When I came, I just put everything in order," Collins said. Fights were common when she arrived in 2010, and often half her day was spent dishing out discipline. At the faculty level, teachers were free to create courses that interested them; as a result, students were enjoying a variety of electives but often hadn't mastered the math, English and science required for diplomas. Collins retooled the curriculum to focus on core subjects, remedial courses and Regents prep. "People didn't like this," she said. More than a dozen teachers left.
The faculty had stabilized by the time we visited in March 2012, but University Neighborhood High School is still working to improve its image. In the classrooms we observed, many longtime teachers kept kids engaged (students eagerly listened to one history teacher's description of gangster Al Capone), but young teachers often had little control over rowdy students clearly uninterested in their lessons. Students we spoke to praised teachers' caring attitudes and willingness to share advice, but in the classrooms teachers often had to raise their voices to be heard over the background din.
University Neighborhood High School opened in September 1999 in what had originally been Manhattan's PS 31, a Lower East Side landmark built in 1902. (It has no connection to University Neighborhood Middle School, despite the similar names.) The five-story Beaux Arts building features high ceilings, large window and ample natural light, but also narrow hallways, a tiny library and no gym (although it does have an indoor weight room and dance studio). A nearby park provides an athletic field.
The name "University Neighborhood" reflects the school's founding collaboration with New York University, a relationship that fed many NYU student teachers to the high school but sent relatively few graduating seniors to NYU. The high school has three full-time employees who help students apply to colleges and prepare for pre-college tests (which the school requires all students take in their junior and senior years). Seniors meet weekly to get advice on their post-graduation options. Recent graduates have been accepted to private schools such as Pace University, St. John's and Penn State, as well as SUNY colleges in Binghamton, Stony Brook, Buffalo and Albany.
The school offers few advanced-placement courses, but one-third of the seniors take business, economics or English classes at Baruch College. Collins said she wants students "to have a sense of being a college student" and experience the rigors of college coursework. She also tries to tailor courses to fit each student's individual needs "to make sure that the students will get as much as possible and be ready for college."
The school offers a number of options for students struggling to master English, particularly recent immigrants from China, including Spanish and Mandarin classes. There are few courses outside of required classes such as math, science and English, but the options are slowly growing.
Special education: The school has six special education teachers who work with other teachers in integrated co-teaching (ICT) classrooms. The school has no self-contained special ed classes, because Collins wants all students held to the same standards. "I want all kids to be treated the same," she said.
Admissions: The school accepts students from throughout New York City, but priority is given to students living in Districts 1 and 2. Applicants must tour the high school during an open house. (Reviewed by Skip Card, March 2012)
At a glance
Number of Students 343
Average Daily Attendance 91%
Metal detectors? No
INCOMING STUDENTS' PROFICIENCY: 2.32 2.39 CITYWIDE AVERAGE
Safety & vibe
ARE CLASSES BIG?
Number of students in an average english classNA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE
DO STUDENTS LIKE THE TEACHERS?
How many students say their teachers inspire them to learn?66% 74% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
DO TEACHERS LIKE THE PRINCIPAL?
How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?96% 77% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
IS THIS SCHOOL SAFE?
How many students say they feel safe in hallways, bathrooms and locker rooms?92% 84% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
How many teachers say order and discipline are maintained in the school?NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE
How Many Students are Chronically Absent?27% 41% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
Class of 2015
How many students passed a Regents exam for algebra 2, physics or chemistry?28%
Is the guidance counseling helpful?
How many students say that this school provides helpful counseling on college or job-seeking?NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE
Special ed & ELL
Programs and Admissions
University Neighborhood Early College
University Neighborhood Early College (UNEC) is designed for students interested in pursuing a career in business. UNEC provides rigorous curriculum with individualized academic supports, enabling students to earn a High School diploma and up to 24 college credits through City University of New York (CUNY) Baruch College within 4 years.
- English (Scores 65-100) , Math (Scores 60-100) , Science (Scores 65-100) , Social Studies (Scores 65-100)
- Math Levels: Levels 1.9-4.5 ; English Language Arts Levels: Levels 1.8-4.5
There may be additional selection criteria, see the High School Directory for more information
Students with limited English are taught by bilingual Mandarin speaking teachers in all core subjects and get extra support during Academic Intervention Services (AIS).
University Neighborhood High School
An interdisciplinary, project-based program, with advisories, art and music electives, community service requirements and learning centers.
AP COURSES: AP Calculus, AP Chinese, AP English, AP Spanish, AP Studio Art, AP US Government and Politics
EXTRACURRICULAR: Basketball, Badminton, Handball, Glee, Dance, Weight Training, Ping Pong, Tennis, Step Team, Tutoring, Lunchtime Tutoring, Saturday SAT Prep, Saturday Regents Prep, ESL Saturday Academy, Regents Prep, National Honor Society, Council for Unity, Young WomenŒÍs Empowerment, Student Assistance Services, Aviation, Book, Chess, Robotics, Computer, Spanish, Student Government, Art, Audio, Music, Digital Art Studio, Guitar and Piano, Literary Magazine, Murals, Video, and Cooking.
BOYS PSAL SPORTS: Basketball, Bowling, Handball
GIRLS PSAL SPORTS: Bowling, Softball