New Explorations into Science, Technology and Math

An Insideschools pick
111 COLUMBIA STREET
MANHATTAN NY 10002 Map
Phone: (212) 677-5190
Website: Click here
Admissions: Citywide
Principal: Mark Berkowitz
Neighborhood: Lower East Side
District: 1
Grade range: K-12
Parent Coordinator: MARCY DURAN
Science & Math
Unzoned
Gifted and Talented
Screened
Citywide

Buses: B39, M14A, M14D, M21, M22, M8, M9

What's special:

Fast-paced instruction for advanced students

The downside:

Daunting admissions process

InsideSchools Review

Our review:

One of five citywide gifted programs, and the only one to serve children in grades k–12, New Explorations into Science, Technology & Math (NEST+m) has a demanding curriculum, hyper-involved parents, and children who love to come to school.

Mark Berkowitz, who became principal in July 2015, has quickly put his imprint on the school: He makes himself available to both parents and children and has taken steps to mend frayed relations that existed between the previous administration and staff. Berkowitz, who was the assistant principal at NYC Lab School for Collaborative Studies, is keen to keep the school’s high standards while recognizing that gifted children, like all children, need social and emotional support. “We want to create a space where it’s safe to make a mistake,” he said.

The elementary school has a progressive approach, with opportunities for children to work independently, to express themselves by speaking and writing, and to explore their own interests. Each class in kindergarten through 2nd grade has a play area with lots of blocks. Lessons are woven around interdisciplinary themes such as transportation (the different types, how fast or slow they move) and Central Park (how to read maps or build bridges, or what kind of wildlife lives there). The elementary school (also called the Lower School) has weekly "enrichment clusters" in which children from different classes work together on projects such as cooking, puppetry or street hockey. All elementary school students study Mandarin once a week. One nice, old-fashioned touch: Children have good hand-writing, the result of much practice.

NEST+m uses Singapore math in grades k–7, a curriculum that combines quick recall of arithmetic facts with a deep understanding of math concepts. For parents who are frustrated by the slow pace of math in many of the city’s schools, Singapore math is one of NEST+m's great strengths.

Parents are invited to read with kindergartners at the start of the day. On one of our visits, mothers and fathers sat with groups of children on the corridor floors, reading aloud. The PTA pays for teaching assistants in the lower grades.

In the past, the middle school, grades 6–8, had a traditional approach, with an emphasis on mastering material from textbooks and preparing for multiple Regents exams.

Berkowitz is encouraging middle school teachers to develop a curriculum based on depth of understanding rather than “acceleration for its own sake.” NEST+m is moving toward more class discussions and fewer lectures by teachers; more oral presentations by students and fewer multiple-choice Regents exams. Seventh-graders, for example, have a robotics class in which they learn the basics of computer programming; the emphasis is on problem solving, rather than acceleration through a standard math curriculum.

Berkowitz moved his office from the ground floor main office (where it was protected by secretaries) to the third floor, where student may walk in without an appointment. He shares the office with his secretary, and students stop to chat informally or even share a joke. He seemed to know every child by name during our visit, just a few months after he came to the school.

Many 8th-graders leave NEST+m for larger or more established high schools; therefore, a significant number of seats—about 75—are available for new 9th-graders. In the high school, many classes have desks in rows, and there are more classes where the teacher does most of the talking than there are classes with lively discussions. Here, too, the curriculum and teaching approaches are evolving, and some classes have engaging projects. Students in a chemical engineering class, for example, made model cars powered by baking powder and vinegar—experimenting with different shapes to see which was the fastest. A bio-engineering class made models for prosthetic limbs.

NEST+m has a full-time college counselor. Students have been admitted to top colleges such as MIT, Wesleyan, Swarthmore, Yale, Columbia, Brown and Cooper Union, among others. A handful of kids go on to community colleges.

The school is housed in a sunny two-story building with wide halls and classrooms arranged around a central courtyard. Both elementary and middle school children play outside in the pleasant courtyard after lunch. Children in grades 3–8 have a dress code: polo shirts of various colors emblazoned with a NEST+m logo. In the winter months, many swap the polo shirt for purple sweatshirts with the school logo. Kids seem happy to be here, and attendance is very high. On one of our visits—a snowy day when most schools had poor attendance—nearly all the NEST+m kids showed up.

SPECIAL EDUCATION: Children with disabilities such as dyslexia and ADHD receive SETSS (special education teacher support services). Occupational, physical, and speech therapists assist children, and a psychologist is on hand two days a week. The high school has introduced ICT, or team-teaching, classes.

ADMISSIONS: Kindergartners must score in the 99th percentile on the city’s gifted and talented exam to even be considered. (Siblings of current students may apply if they score in the 97th percentile.)

For kindergarten admissions, parents must submit a request for testing in November; children are tested in January. See the Department of Education's gifted and talented handbook for details on admission to grades k–2, including practice tests. Some children leave after 5th grade, opening up 35 to 50 seats for new 6th-graders. For admission to the 6th grade, students must take an entrance exam at the school in February. There are occasionally seats in the 7th grade.

For admission to the 9th grade, students must take the school's own entrance exam, similar in format to the SHSAT (Specialized High School Admissions Test).

Open houses for the middle and high school are held in the fall. Only parents whose children score in the 97th percentile may attend the elementary school open house held in the spring. Current elementary students are guaranteed admission into middle school; current middle school students are guaranteed admission into high school. Free yellow school bus service is provided for children in grades k–6 living in Manhattan, within a 5.5-mile drive of the school. Parents in other boroughs and other parts of Manhattan may pay for private bus service.  (Clara Hemphill, November 2015)

K-8 InsideStats

Click tabs above to see school stats

At a glance

Shared campus? No

This school is in its own building.

Number of Students 1753

Average Daily Attendance 96%

Students at this school

Asian

  
33%

Black

  
9%

Hispanic

  
11%

White

  
42%

Free Lunch

  
27%

Special ed

  
4%

English Language Learners

  
0%

Safety & vibe

ARE KIDS
NICE?

How many teachers say bullying is a problem at school?

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

43% 75% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

ARE CLASSES BIG?

Number of students in an average kindergarten class

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Number of students in an average fifth grade class

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Number of students in an average middle school english class

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

DO TEACHERS LIKE THE SCHOOL?

How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?

19% 79% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many teachers would recommend this school to other parents?

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Attendance

How many students are chronically absent?

7% 22% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Academics

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

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

95% 40% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

94% 41% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many 8th grades pass high school regents exams?

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

93% 14% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

76% 17% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Parents

Are parents involved?

How many parents responded to the school survey?

53% 59% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

NA NA 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 NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Do parents like the school?

How many parents would recommend this school to other parents?

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:

NA 6% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

NA 2% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

NA 14% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

NA 8% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

79% 15% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

68% 9% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

88% 91% 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?

78% 84% 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:

0% 3% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

NA 19% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

HS InsideStats

Click tabs above to see school stats

At a glance

Shared campus? No

This school is in its own building.

Number of Students 1753

Average Daily Attendance 96%

Uniforms? NA

Metal detectors? NA

Students at this school

Asian

  
33%

Black

  
9%

Hispanic

  
11%

White

  
42%

Free Lunch

  
27%

Special ed

  
4%

English Language Learners

  
0%

INCOMING STUDENTS' PROFICIENCY: 3.52 2.39 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 NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Middle school students doing math at grade level:

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Safety & vibe

ARE CLASSES BIG?

Number of students in an average english class

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

DO STUDENTS LIKE THE TEACHERS?

How many students say their teachers inspire them to learn?

81% 74% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

DO TEACHERS LIKE THE PRINCIPAL?

How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?

19% 77% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

IS THIS SCHOOL SAFE?

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

91% 84% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

 
 

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

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

HOW IS
ATTENDANCE?

How Many Students are Chronically Absent?

7% 41% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Who graduates

Class of 2015

How many students graduated within 4 years?

98% 69% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

75% 11% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many students graduated within 6 years?

98% 77% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many graduates dropped out within 4 years?

1% 9% 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?

81%

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

12%

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

99%

Are students ready for college?

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

97% 32% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

SAT reading scores

601
424 CITYWIDE AVERAGE 495 NATIONWIDE AVERAGE

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

93% 64% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

SAT math scores

657
432 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?

NA NA 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?

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How well does this school serve English language learners?

How many English language learners graduated within 4 years?

48% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many English language learners graduated within 6 years?

56% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Programs and Admissions

Science, Technology and Math Institute

Screened

Technology woven throughout the curriculum and school infrastructure; use of technological tools to collaborate, conduct research and explore mathematical and scientific phenomena.

Selection Criteria

  • English (Scores 83-100) , Math (Scores 85-100) , Science (Scores 85-100) , Social Studies (Scores 85-100)
  • Math Levels: Levels 3.3-4.5 ; English Language Arts Levels: Levels 2.7-4.5

There may be additional selection criteria, see the High School Directory for more information

Academics

AP COURSES: AP Biology, AP Calculus, AP Chemistry, AP Chinese, AP Economics, AP English, AP European History, AP Physics, AP Psychology, AP Spanish, AP US History, AP World History

Source: High school directory 2015-2016

Sports/Clubs

EXTRACURRICULAR: Robotics, Model UN, Chess Competitions, National Honor Society, Math Team/Contests, Borough Advisory Student Council, Debate Committee/Team, Student Government, Peer Leaders, Art Exhibitions, Creative Writing, Green Club, Gay-Straight Alliance, PSAL and Club Level Sports, Heart to Heart Charity, Talent Show, Red Cross, Scholastic Arts Competition, SLT, Winter and Spring School Plays, World Science Festival, Jazz Band and Chorus, Music Concert

BOYS PSAL SPORTS: Basketball, Fencing, Indoor Track, Soccer

GIRLS PSAL SPORTS: Basketball, Fencing, Soccer, Softball, Table Tennis, Volleyball

Other schools sports: Badminton, Baseball, Cross-Country, Dance, Outdoor Track, Soccer, Softball, Table Tennis, Volleyball

Source: High school directory 2015-2016

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