Mott Hall II

Grades 6-8
Staff Pick Staff Pick for Special Ed
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What’s Special

Small, welcoming school with diverse student population and accelerated curriculum

The Downside

Historic buildings quirks include a gym with padded pillars

Our Review

Mott Hall II is a small, well-regarded Upper West Side middle school known for its nurturing attitude and diverse student population. The 300-plus students here receive a rigorous education in an environment that favors hands-on learning. The school's historic building has its drawbacks (as well as quirky charm) but students here genuinely seem to appreciate their teachers and enjoy their school.

The first clone of Harlem's pioneering Mott Hall School, it shares the landmark Robert E. Simon Educational Complex with PS/MS 165, a pre-k-8 school. Most Mott Hall II classrooms are on the fourth floor of the historic building, which features soaring ceilings, ample natural light and asphalt-coated outdoor play areasas well as meandering narrow halls, ancient steam radiators, obtrusive support columns, no athletic fields and other architectural quirks.

Assistant Principal and Co-Director Marlon Lowe became the principal in fall 2013, after the death of longtime principal Anna de los Santos Tornatore. Teachers give him high marks on school surveys. The assistant principal is Marciarie Rodriquez, who also came from the Mott Hall teaching ranks. Modern projection screens and dry-erase boards have replaced dusty chalkboards, science labs have been implemented (two are mobile) and shared laptops are rolled in via cart. A multimedia room functions as a library most of the time, for personal and class use, and as a computer lab 25 percent of the time.

Mott Hall II is often viewed as an undiscovered gem in District 3. Student test scores are more than respectable (particularly in math). On our visit we saw rooms full of students actively engaged in their projects. Some kids were learning ratios and proportions by calculating the changing sizes of Alice as she traveled through Wonderland. Others were enlarging a scale blueprint of Disney's "It's a Small World" amusement ride. Literary discussions included debating whether characters in S.E. Hinton's novel The Outsiders died happy.

Core subjects are taught at an accelerated pace (typically one year above grade level) in a project-based environment where teachers often lecture for no more than 15 minutes before students begin hands-on tasks. Sixth-graders are assigned to one of four classes, which travel as a group to different rooms. This practice makes the transition to middle school less intimidating, and it also allows students with special needs to more easily be included in mainstream studies within team-teaching classes. The 6th-grade curriculum has a heavy focus on math, science and humanities but also includes Spanish. Electives expand in 7th and 8th grade, but some courses such as French and instrumental music are offered only through the school's many after-school programs (which also includes science and business classes).

Eighth-graders can enroll in advanced biology and math courses to prepare them for the math and science Regents exams: in science, they take living environment, rather than the earth science offered in most District 3 schools, which allows them to take chemistry in ninth grade. Homework averages about one-and-a-half hours every weeknight, administrators say. Mott Hall II also has advisory classes and competent counselors offering guidance. Students we spoke to said they liked their teachers and praised the faculty's caring attitudes. "If you have outside problems, you can talk to them," one 8th-grade girl said.

Over 65 percent of students gain admission to their first choice high schools, according to Parent Coordinator Jory Plevel. About 25- 30 percent land a spot at specialized schools includingLaGuardia;High School for Math, Science and Engineering;Bronx Science;Brooklyn Latin or Lehman. Othersgain entrance to private schools including the Nightingale-Bamford School, Riverdale Country and Exeter, some with substantial scholarships. Roughly 50 percent attend popular schools like Beacon, Millennium, Bard, Columbia Secondary, NYC iSchool and Frank McCourt, and a smaller group opt for select special interest schools such as Young Women's Leadership, Quest to Learn and the Harbor School.

Special education: Students with special needs are assigned to team-teaching classes in which special ed and general ed students learn together with two teachers, one of whom is certified in special education. Mott Hall II also has a self-contained 12:1:1 class.

Admissions: Mott Hall II is a screened middle school open only to students in District 3. Mott Hall II looks for students who perform at or above grade level as noted on their 4th-grade year-end report cards. Potential students who rank Mott Hall II first take a reading, writing and math assessment administered by the school in late January/early February. ELA and math test scores are only "taken into account as part of the whole picture," the parent coordinator wrote to us in an email.(Skip Card, December 2012; updated by Lydie Raschka, via email, October 2014)

About the students

Free or reduced priced lunch
Students with disabilities
English language learners

About the school

Shared campus?
This school shares the building with PS 165
Uniforms required?
Metal detectors?
How crowded? (Full is 100%)
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average


Average daily attendance
93% Citywide Average
How many students are chronically absent?
20% Citywide Average

Is this school safe?

How many teachers say order and discipline are maintained at this school?
77% Citywide Average
How many students think bullying happens most or all of the time at this school?
28% Citywide Average
How many students say they feel safe in the hallways, bathrooms and locker rooms?
82% Citywide Average
How many students say most students treat each other with respect?
43% Citywide Average

About the leadership

Years of principal experience at this school
6.0 Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?
82% Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal has a clear vision for this school?
88% Citywide Average
How many teachers trust the principal?
82% Citywide Average

About the teachers

How many teachers have 3 or more years of experience teaching?
72% Citywide Average
Teacher attendance
96% Citywide Average
How many teachers say they would recommend this school to other families?
81% Citywide Average
How many teachers think the staff collaborate to make this school run effectively?
86% 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?
27% Citywide Average
How many students scored 3-4 on the state ELA exam?
30% Citywide Average

Arts offerings

This school has 1 dedicated space for Visual arts
This school has 1 licensed arts teacher in Visual arts (part-time)

Engaging curriculum?

How many students say this school offers enough programs, classes and activities to keep them interested?
75% Citywide Average
How many students say they are challenged in most or all of their classes?
56% Citywide Average
How many students say the programs, classes and activities here encourage them to develop talent outside academics?
72% Citywide Average

Are students prepared for high school?

Accelerated courses offered for high school credit
Algebra I, Living Environment
How many 8th graders earn high school credit?
26% Citywide Average
How many graduates of this school pass all their classes in 9th grade?
84% Citywide Average
What high schools do most graduates attend?
Academy for Software Engineering, Frank McCourt HS, and Manhattan / Hunter Science HS
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the 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 ICT students
1.9 Citywide Average
Average math score for self-contained students
2.1 Citywide Average
Average ELA score for ICT students
1.9 Citywide Average
Average ELA score for self-contained students
2.2 Citywide Average
Average math score for SETSS students
2.3 Citywide Average
Average ELA score for SETSS students
2.3 Citywide Average
How many students say that students with disabilities are included in all activities?
67% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say this school offers enough activities and services for their children's needs?
88% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say this school works to achive the goals of their students' IEPs?
91% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say they are satisfied with the IEP development process at this school?
90% Citywide Average
For more information about our data sources, see About Our Data
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