New Explorations into Science, Technology and Math High School (NEST+m)

Grades K-12
Staff Pick
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Location

111 Columbia Street
Manhattan NY 10002
Lower East Side (District 1)
Trains: F, J, M, Z to Delancey St-Essex St
Buses: B39, M14A, M14D, M21, M22, M8, M9

Contact

Phone
212-677-5190
Principal
Mark Berkowitz
Parent Coordinator
Melissa Hernandez

What’s Special

Fast-paced instruction for advanced students

The Downside

Daunting admissions process

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 schools high standards while recognizing that gifted children, like all children, need social and emotional support. We want to create a space where its 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 citys 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 seatsabout 75are 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 vinegarexperimenting 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 visitsa snowy day when most schools had poor attendancenearly 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 citys 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)

About the students

Enrollment
1745
Asian
33.2%
Black
8.0%
Hispanic
11.1%
White
41.3%
Other
6.5%
Free or reduced priced lunch
25%
Students with disabilities
6%
English language learners
0%

About the school

Shared campus?
No
This school is in its own building.
Uniforms required?
Yes
Metal detectors?
No
How crowded? (Full is 100%)
105%
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

Attendance

Average daily attendance
96%
93% Citywide Average
How many students are chronically absent?
7%
15% Citywide Average

Is this school safe?

How many teachers say order and discipline are maintained at this school?
59%
77% Citywide Average
How many students think bullying happens most or all of the time at this school?
31%
39% Citywide Average
How many students say they feel safe in the hallways, bathrooms and locker rooms?
89%
88% Citywide Average
How many teachers say their students are safe outside around this school?
67%
83% Citywide Average
How many students say most students treat each other with respect?
73%
58% Citywide Average

About the leadership

Years of principal experience at this school
1.0
5.1 Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?
60%
83% Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal has a clear vision for this school?
72%
89% Citywide Average
How many teachers trust the principal?
54%
84% Citywide Average

About the teachers

How many teachers have 3 or more years of experience teaching?
57%
64% Citywide Average
Teacher attendance
96%
98% Citywide Average
How many teachers say they would recommend this school to other families?
82%
85% Citywide Average
How many teachers think the staff collaborate to make this school run effectively?
72%
88% Citywide Average

Do parents like the school?

How many parents responded to the school survey?
65%
67% Citywide Average
How many parents say they are invited to visit classrooms?
87%
74% Citywide Average
How many parents say this school offers enough courses, activities and services to keep their children interested in school?
85%
85% Citywide Average
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

Test scores

How many students scored 3-4 on the state math exam?
98%
58% Citywide Average
How many students scored 3-4 on the state ELA exam?
97%
56% Citywide Average

Arts offerings

This school has 12 dedicated spaces for Dance, Music, Theater, Visual arts, and Media arts
This school has 6 licensed arts teacher in Music and Theater

Engaging curriculum?

How many students say this school offers enough programs, classes and activities to keep them interested?
73%
72% Citywide Average
How many students say they are challenged in most or all of their classes?
55%
54% Citywide Average
How many students say the programs, classes and activities here encourage them to develop talent outside academics?
70%
73% Citywide Average

Are students prepared for high school?

Accelerated courses offered for high school credit
French, Spanish, US History, Algebra I, Geometry, Earth Science
How many 8th graders earn high school credit?
99%
46% Citywide Average
How many graduates of this school pass all their classes in 9th grade?
99%
91% Citywide Average
What high schools do most graduates attend?
New Explorations into Science, Technology and Math HS, Stuyvesant HS, and Brooklyn Technical HS
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

How many graduate?

How many students graduate in 4 years?
100%
84% Citywide Average
How many graduates earn Advanced Regents diplomas?
75%
36% Citywide Average
How many students drop out?
1%
3% Citywide Average

Are students prepared for college?

How many students graduate with test scores high enough to enroll at CUNY without remedial help?
96%
45% Citywide Average
How many students take a college-level course or earn a professional certificate?
98%
61% Citywide Average
How many graduate and enter college within 18 months?
89%
82% Citywide Average
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

How does this school serve English Language Learners?

How many former English language learners score 3-4 on the State ELA exam?
69%
53% Citywide Average

How does this school serve students with disabilities?

This school offers self-contained classes
This school offers team teaching (ICT)
Average math score for SETSS students
3.44
2.7 Citywide Average
Average ELA score for SETSS students
3.03
2.5 Citywide Average
How many students say that students with disabilities are included in all activities?
64%
67% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say this school offers enough activities and services for their children's needs?
73%
86% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say this school works to achive the goals of their students' IEPs?
81%
90% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say they are satisfied with the IEP development process at this school?
89%
88% Citywide Average
How many special ed students graduate in 4 years?
100%
65% Citywide Average
For more information about our data sources, see About Our Data

Programs and Admissions

Science, Technology and Math Institute
Admissions Method: Screened
Program Description

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

Academics

Language Courses

Chinese (Mandarin), French, Italian, Latin, Spanish

Advanced Placement (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

Sports

Boys PSAL teams

Basketball, Fencing, Indoor Track, Soccer

Girls PSAL teams

Basketball, Fencing, Soccer, Softball, Table Tennis, Volleyball

Read about admissions, academics, and more at this school on the NYCDOE’s School Finder
NYC Department of Education: School Finder

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