High School for Environmental Studies

444 WEST 56 STREET
MANHATTAN NY 10019 Map
Phone: (212) 262-8113
Website: Click here
Admissions: educational option
Principal: Shirley H. Matthews
Neighborhood: West Midtown
District:2
Grade range: 9-12
Parent Coordinator: Wanda Adams
Humanities & Interdisciplinary
Environmental Science
Wheelchair Accessible

Buses: M10, M104, M11, M20, M31, M5, M50, M57, M66, M7

What's special:

Internships with an environmental theme.

The downside:

Communication with families is a work-in-progress.

InsideSchools Review

Our review:

The High School of Environmental Studies does a good job of serving students with a wide range of academic abilities. It combines a traditional academic program with unusual internships and field trips designed to make students aware of the environment. Depending on their skills level, Students are placed in the tiny, demanding Honors Academy; the larger Honor’s Sequence; or the less demanding Regent’s Sequence.

A non-profit organization called Friends of the High School for Environmental Studies raises money for class trips and summer programs. Over 70 students participate in the Nature Conservancy’s summer outdoor internships on nature preserves in 19 states. Participants clear trails, build footbridges, remove invasive species or plant oyster beds and then share their experiences with peers back at school.

To some extent, the school’s green theme is what kids make of it: about half the students are involved at some level, said Matthew Washington, director of the non-profit, while others prefer to concentrate on other aspects of the school, such as the many sports teams, ceramics, music, weight training, or hiking. That said, many opportunities exist: two kids got to go backpacking in the Alaskan wilderness through the National Outdoor Leadership School at no cost to the family. One third of the 10th grade class interns at places like Wave Hill, Bronx Zoo or Swindler Cove Park. In seminars, they work on resumes, cover letters and setting goals.

Freshmen environmental seminars, which used to be five days a week, have been cut back to three and not all kids participate due to budget cuts. These seminars – where students might prepare for a field trip to check out an aspect of the city’s sustainability plan – now have an advisory component, another budgetary decision.

Parents told us staff members offer challenging opportunities for bright kids and extra attention to children who are struggling. Teachers said that work in the Regent’s classes tends to be more hands-on and interactive than in honors classes, where students go deeper into the subject matter.

The school boasts one of the few molecular biology labs in the city. One student was a gold medalist in the New York State science fair for a project exploring heavy metals in soil foundations in the city. “It’s not a science-heavy school it’s a science-infused school,” said science teacher Mike Hojnacki.

The school’s size is daunting for some and communication is a work in progress. A parent of a junior in the Regent’s program said it was weeks before she learned that her child was behind on math homework during a busy soccer season and she felt passed off between guidance counselor and teacher. Parents may access an online program to see their child’s grades and attendance and Robo-calls alert families to important dates. Scheduling classes in the fall is reportedly a scramble but getting better. Guidance counselors field concerns, whether it’s to help set up conferences or to lobby to get a kid a spot in AP calculus and teachers are apparently good about answering emails.

College admissions: About 75 percent of graduates enroll in 2- or 4-year colleges, well above the citywide average of 50 percent, according to the school’s Progress Report. Of those who go to college, roughly half go to CUNY, 25 percent to SUNY and 25 percent to private colleges. An upbeat link on the school’s website has a “college application tip of the day” with reminders and deadlines to help the college bound stay on track.

Special education: The school offers self-contained classes for special needs students only. It also offers Special Education Support Services (SETSS) where teachers “push in” to classes to help individuals. “We graduate a lot of Regent’s diplomas in special ed,” said a guidance counselor.

Admissions: There are open houses held in the fall. Admission is based on the educational option formula, designed to ensure a mix of low-and-high-achieving students. Thirty-four students are admitted into the Honors Academy. To be considered they must have an 85 average and score a 3 or 4 (at or above grade level) on standardized reading and math tests. The Honors Academy means the child has the opportunity to take every single AP course while the Honors Sequence is a mix of AP and general classes. (November 2011, interviews, open house, Lydie Raschka)

 

InsideStats

Click tabs above to see school stats

At a glance

Shared campus? No

This school is in its own building

Number of Students 1312

Average Daily Attendance 90%

Uniforms? No

Metal detectors? No

Students at this school

Asian

  
17%

Black

  
16%

Hispanic

  
59%

White

  
8%

Free Lunch

  
76%

Special ed

  
16%

English Language Learners

  
8%

INCOMING STUDENTS' PROFICIENCY: 3.00 2.80 CITYWIDE AVERAGE


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

Safety & vibe

ARE CLASSES BIG?

Number of students in an average english class

30 25 CITYWIDE AVERAGE

DO STUDENTS LIKE THE TEACHERS?

How many students say their teachers inspire them to learn?

57% 63% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

DO TEACHERS LIKE THE PRINCIPAL?

How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?

76% 78% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

IS THIS SCHOOL SAFE?

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

83% 82% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

 
 

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

65% 77% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

HOW IS
ATTENDANCE?

How Many Students are Chronically Absent?

25% 38% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Who graduates

Class of 2013

How many 2009 freshmen graduated within 4 years?

83% 70% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many 2007 freshmen graduated within 6 years?

89% 78% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Previous Years

How many 2008 freshmen graduated within 4 years?

82% 66% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many 2008 freshmen earned an advanced regents diploma within 4 years?

27% 12% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many 2006 freshmen graduated within 6 years?

88% 75% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many 2008 freshmen dropped out within 4 years?

7% 11% 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?

29%

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

24%

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

49%

Are students ready for college?

How many 2009 freshmen graduated in four years with test scores high enough to enroll at CUNY without remedial help?

53% 27% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

SAT reading scores

477
414 CITYWIDE AVERAGE 496 NATIONWIDE AVERAGE

How many 2009 freshmen graduated in four years and enrolled in college?

84%

SAT math scores

502
425 CITYWIDE AVERAGE 514 NATIONWIDE AVERAGE

Is the guidance counseling helpful?

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

83% 76% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Special ed & ELL

How well does this school serve students with disabilities?

How many special ed students starting school in 2008 graduated within 4 years?

69% 45% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many special ed students starting school in 2006 graduated within 6 years?

65% 53% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

77% 68% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

97% 89% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How well does this school serve English language learners?

How many English language learners starting school in 2008 graduated within 4 years?

40% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many English language learners starting school in 2006 graduated within 6 years?

58% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Programs and Admissions

School admission priorities:

  1. Open to New York City residents

Source: High school directory

Honors Academy

Screened

Mathematics and science research, work in university laboratories.

Selection Criteria

  • English (85-100) , Math (85-100) , Science (85-100) , Social Studies (85-100)
  • Math Levels: 3-4 ; English Language Arts Levels: 3-4

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

Environmental Studies

Ed. Opt.

Interdisciplinary program emphasizing environmental studies: the natural environment, the urban environment and environmental ethics. Students are expected to engage in research, environmental projects, internships and complete a senior thesis.

Academics

AP COURCES: Biology, Calculus AB, Calculus BC, Economics: Macro, English Language and Composition, English Literature and Composition, Government and Politics: United States, Physics B, Spanish Language, Spanish Literature, United States History, World History

Online: N/A

Language classes: French, Italian, Spanish

Source: High school directory

Sports/Clubs

EXTRACURRICULAR: Board Games, Bowling, Dance, Envirothon, French Club, Knitting Club, Leadership Class, Model UN, Multicultural Issues, National Honor Society (Arista), Photography, School Spirit, Student Government, Weight Training, Yearbook, YES, Yoga

BOYS PSAL SPORTS: Basketball, Cross Country, Handball, Soccer, Softball, Tennis, Volleyball

GIRLS PSAL SPORTS: Basketball, Cross Country, Handball, Soccer, Softball, Tennis, Volleyball

Other schools sports: N/A

Source: High school directory

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