NYC Lab School for Collaborative Studies
MANHATTAN NY 10011 Map
NYC Lab School for Collaborative Studies
Buses: M11, M12, M14A, M14D, M20, M23, M5, M7, X28
It’s rare to find a high school as attuned to the peculiar charms and vulnerabilities of teen-dom as the NYC Lab School for Collaborative Studies, one of the most successful small high schools in the city. “When students are anxious, depressed, isolated or afraid, we believe they’re hijacked,” said principal Brooke Jackson, to an auditorium filled with middle school families embarking on their umpteenth high school tour.
Lab is a relief in so many ways, boasting stellar college acceptances to the likes of Princeton, Yale and the University of Chicago, yet offering a safe port where teens can truly be teens. A parent calls it “a mecca for quirky, smart kids who can handle the work.”
Inclusion is a centerpiece of Lab. Most classes are team-taught (one member of the team is certified to teach special education), and roughly five students in each have special needs, while other classes incorporate a few kids who receive tutoring from a special education teacher. The ASD Nest program brings in students from a feeder school in East Harlem who are on the autism spectrum. About three of these children are integrated into a given classroom in this growing program.
Students are integral to the workings of the school to an unusual degree, from the student-led clubs, which range from sporty and goofy (ping pong, cereal-tasting) to the serious-minded (HIV Action, Model United Nations). They oversee most aspects of Lab Theater Company’s three annual performances. Seniors tutor younger peers in math and lead small group advisories to help freshmen adjust to the school. Alumni love to visit and say they entered college ready to speak up, ask questions and work well with others, according to the administration.
Teens who choose Lab will make the most of it if they fully embrace “Labbie” culture. Some teachers, and the principal, choose to be called by their first names and most staff function more like coaches than lecturers, roaming the classroom and offering advice as teens work on their assigned tasks. It is common to hear the scrape of chairs and tables as students rearrange their classrooms to facilitate conversation. Teachers embrace teens in all their slouchy glory; it is part of the learning, the principal said, to learn how to use things like cell phones and iPods appropriately in school. If a child needs a break from class, she can “take a lap” around the drab building—fondly dubbed the “concrete donut” by students. A senior, who was unhappy in his middle school, said, “I have been loved here.”
Academics are rigorous and designed to prepare all students for four-year colleges. Yet Lab plans for the fact that children mature at different rates academically, as well as socially. The school offers unusual flexibility in math; if an 8th-grader did not take Regents’-level algebra in middle school, for example, it’s not too late to jump on the track leading to advanced placement calculus by taking both algebra and geometry freshman year.
All teachers have certification in their areas of expertise, and every student is required to take four years of math and four years of science. If a student doesn’t feel ready for the rigors of calculus or physics in senior year, however, he can choose forensics or an easier math class instead. Jackson said, “We try to find that sweet spot between anxiety and boredom.”
Lab keeps in mind that girls are at risk of dropping back in math and science in middle school; several female math teachers provide role models for them. In AP calculus we noticed about two-thirds of the students were female, while a computer coding class had the reverse male-to-female ratio.
Juniors and seniors undertake independent research projects. Juniors complete a college-style research paper and seniors do a year-long project that culminates in an "oral defense" before faculty.
Ninth-graders sample music, art and theater and then may choose a track to follow through all four years. The school offers about 15 sports with an emphasis on give-it-a-try fun, not pure competition.
One downside, according to a senior who has her sights set on an engineering degree in college, is the limited class choice due to the small size of the school. “I would have liked more computer science,” she said, “but it wasn’t offered until senior year.” Another downside is the fact that Lab is one of three schools sharing a common building, though they seem to make it work. The teen-friendly Chelsea location helps; there’s a pizza place right around the corner.
Admissions: Selective admissions with priority to District 2 residents. Lab Middle School students do not get priority in admissions. Open houses are conducted during the fall. Check the school's website for dates and times. (Lydie Raschka, October 2014)
At a glance
Number of Students 587
Average Daily Attendance 94%
Metal detectors? No
INCOMING STUDENTS' PROFICIENCY: 3.22 2.40 CITYWIDE AVERAGE
Safety & vibe
ARE CLASSES BIG?
Number of students in an average english class27 25 CITYWIDE AVERAGE
DO STUDENTS LIKE THE TEACHERS?
How many students say their teachers inspire them to learn?74% 63% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
DO TEACHERS LIKE THE PRINCIPAL?
How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?93% 82% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
IS THIS SCHOOL SAFE?
How many students say they feel safe in hallways, bathrooms and locker rooms?96% 85% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
How many teachers say order and discipline are maintained in the school?93% 82% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
How Many Students are Chronically Absent?15% 38% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
Class of 2014
How many students passed a Regents exam for algebra 2, physics or chemistry?75%
Is the guidance counseling helpful?
How many students say that this school provides helpful counseling on college or job-seeking?79% 76% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
Special ed & ELL
Programs and Admissions
School admission priorities:
- Priority to District 2 students or residents
- Then to Manhattan students or residents
- Then to New York City residents
Collaborative work and interdisciplinary projects; all courses are Honors or AP.
- English (Scores 85-100) , Math (Scores 85-100) , Science (Scores 85-100) , Social Studies (Scores 85-100)
- Math Levels: Levels 2.5-4.5 ; English Language Arts Levels: Levels 2.5-4.5
There may be additional selection criteria, see the High School Directory for more information
AP COURSES: Calculus, English, Environmental Science, Psychology, Spanish, Statistics, United States Government and Politics, United States History
EXTRACURRICULAR: Asian Culture, Black Alliance, Chorus, Classic Literature, Dance, Feminist Focus, GSA, Girls Learn International, Graphic Arts, Group Green, Instrumental Music, Jewish Culture, Lab Theater Company, NY Learn Japanese, Literary Magazines, Middle East Studies, Model UN, Newspaper and Publications, Art Workshops, Photography, Stand Up to Bullying, Social Action, Student Ambassadors, Student Government, Tech, Improv, Hiking, 3D printing
BOYS PSAL SPORTS: Baseball, Basketball, Indoor Track, Soccer
GIRLS PSAL SPORTS: Basketball, Cross Country, Flag Football, Golf, Soccer, Softball, Tennis, Volleyball
Other schools sports: Bowling, Weight Training, Yoga