Metropolitan Expeditionary Learning School

Grades 6-12
Staff Pick
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What’s Special

Interesting field projects; interdisciplinary approach

The Downside

May not appeal to those seeking a traditional curriculum.

Our Review

Launched in 2010, Metropolitan Expeditionary Learning School believes in hands-on learning in the classroom and beyond. The school sends its students out across the city and brings in experts to give subjects, particularly math, science and technology, a real-life relevance.

The school is the brainchild of co-principals Pat Finley and Damon McCord who wanted to provide Queens middle and high school students with an education thats not focused on textbooks. The 11 expeditionary schools in New York City are run in partnership with the organization Outward Bound.

Most work, particularly in the middle school, is organized around two or three "expeditions" a year, all interdisciplinary and many involving sustainability. A project on building a better taxicab had students collecting pollution data in math and studying different types of engines in science. The 6th graders then designed engines, with help from Cooper Union students. In the expedition entitled Invaders children learned about Genghis Khan in social studies and invasive species in science. As part of their work, students mapped and trapped the Asian longhorn beetle in parks. That study extended to physical education as the students learned about viruses and played a game pitting HIV against T-cells.

In most classes we visited, students seemed engaged and enthusiastic about fieldwork. In English for, example, they eagerly sought out instructions in preparation for interviews they would conduct with immigrants. Students seems a bit less involved as they studied a diagram of the reproduction system as part of their consideration of birth control pioneer Margaret Sangers in the "Great Power, Great Responsibility "expedition.

The school focuses on character development. Every student is a member of a group, called a CREW, consisting of about 16 classmates and a teacher. Every day starts with a CREW meeting. One of the most anticipated CREW events is a five-day back packing trip for 6th graders that includes an overnight hike, and ropes courses. One student told us, "You dont have to be a nature person to really enjoy the trip."

Some parents may worry that the field experiences could come at the expense of more traditional work. "We do think this type of learning works well with all students," McCord says, "but it may not work well with all families." However the co-principals say MELS students have done well on tests so far, due, they think, to the school's emphasis on literacy and delving deeper into subjects, such as science. The school is grappling with how to mesh Regents requirements and Advanced Placement classes with field experiences, but does plan to provide AP courses. High school students do a bit less fieldwork than middle school students.

The Queens Metropolitan campus in Forest Hills is new, bright and inviting. MELS shares the building with Queens Metropolitan High School and a District 75 school for students with disabilities.

Special education: MELS offers team teaching classes and services for special education students in regular classes. It also has some self-contained classes. Students in those have a CREW, take art and physical education with the general education students, and do some expeditions.

Admission: The middle school is open to District 28 students, with few, if any, openings for those outside the district. Most middle school students stay on for high school, leaving hardly any slots for incoming 9th graders. Priority for those goes to Queens residents who attend an open house. (Gail Robinson, February 2013)

About the students

Enrollment
825
Asian
18.2%
Black
16.9%
Hispanic
41.0%
White
17.9%
Other
6.1%
Free or reduced priced lunch
67%
Students with disabilities
20%
English language learners
2%

About the school

Shared campus?
Yes
This school shares the Metropolitan Educational Campus with two other schools
Uniforms required?
Yes
Metal detectors?
No
How crowded? (Full is 100%)
101%
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

Attendance

Average daily attendance
95%
90% Citywide Average
How many students are chronically absent?
12%
27% Citywide Average

Is this school safe?

How many teachers say order and discipline are maintained at this school?
100%
74% Citywide Average
How many students think bullying happens most or all of the time at this school?
17%
22% Citywide Average
How many students say they feel safe in the hallways, bathrooms and locker rooms?
92%
82% Citywide Average
How many students say most students treat each other with respect?
64%
48% Citywide Average

About the leadership

Years of principal experience at this school
6.0
5.8 Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?
98%
77% Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal has a clear vision for this school?
99%
82% Citywide Average
How many teachers trust the principal?
97%
78% Citywide Average

About the teachers

How many teachers have 3 or more years of experience teaching?
59%
70% Citywide Average
Teacher attendance
98%
97% Citywide Average
How many teachers say they would recommend this school to other families?
97%
80% Citywide Average
How many teachers think the staff collaborate to make this school run effectively?
100%
83% 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?
31%
30% Citywide Average
How many students scored 3-4 on the state ELA exam?
43%
35% Citywide Average

Arts offerings

This school has 6 dedicated spaces for Music and Visual arts
This school has 8 licensed arts teachers in Visual arts (part-time), Music, and Theater

Engaging curriculum?

How many students say this school offers enough programs, classes and activities to keep them interested?
75%
68% Citywide Average
How many students say they are challenged in most or all of their classes?
52%
52% Citywide Average
How many students say the programs, classes and activities here encourage them to develop talent outside academics?
75%
68% Citywide Average

Are students prepared for high school?

Accelerated courses offered for high school credit
Algebra I, Earth Science
How many 8th graders earn high school credit?
42%
38% Citywide Average
How many graduates of this school pass all their classes in 9th grade?
93%
87% Citywide Average
What high schools do most graduates attend?
Metropolitan Expeditionary Learning School
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

How many graduate?

How many students graduate in 4 years?
100%
83% Citywide Average

Are students prepared for college?

How many students graduate with test scores high enough to enroll at CUNY without remedial help?
41%
38% Citywide Average
How many students take a college-level course or earn a professional certificate?
33%
48% 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?
25%
7% 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
1.82
1.9 Citywide Average
Average math score for self-contained students
2.03
2.1 Citywide Average
Average ELA score for ICT students
1.85
1.9 Citywide Average
Average ELA score for self-contained students
2.26
2.2 Citywide Average
Average math score for SETSS students
2.13
2.2 Citywide Average
Average ELA score for SETSS students
2.63
2.3 Citywide Average
How many students say that students with disabilities are included in all activities?
71%
64% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say this school offers enough activities and services for their children's needs?
88%
85% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say this school works to achive the goals of their students' IEPs?
97%
89% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say they are satisfied with the IEP development process at this school?
90%
87% Citywide Average
How many special ed students graduate in 4 years?
100%
67% Citywide Average
For more information about our data sources, see About Our Data

Programs and Admissions

Metropolitan Expeditionary Learning School
Admissions Method: Limited Unscreened
Program Description

Academics

Language Courses

French, Spanish

Advanced Placement (AP) courses

AP Biology, AP Calculus, AP Spanish, AP US Government and Politics

Sports

Boys PSAL teams

Baseball, Basketball, Cross Country, Indoor Track, Outdoor Track, Soccer, Volleyball, Wrestling

Girls PSAL teams

Basketball, Cross Country, Indoor Track, Outdoor Track, Soccer, Softball, Swimming, Volleyball

Coed PSAL teams

Stunt

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NYC Department of Education: School Finder

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