University Neighborhood Middle School
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Relationship with NYU; small classes
A small school on the same block as the historic Henry Street Settlement house, University Neighborhood Middle School, along with nearby, was founded as part of New York University’s now abandoned plans for an education park on the Lower East Side. Although University Neighborhood Middle Schools benefits from its partnerships with both NYU and the Henry Street Settlement, it has consistently faced academic struggles.
In 2019, the state identified University Neighborhood as being in the bottom 10 percent of schools in New York, requiring the school to prepare an improvement plan. Math scores in particular are substantially below the city average. The school does not offer any classes for high school credit. An evaluation by the Department of Education, called the Quality Review, said class participation was low and teachers frequently failed to adjust tasks to individual students, particularly those with disabilities or learning English.
The school, though, does offer students interesting academic opportunities. Class sizes are small, and English and social students are combined in a humanities curriculum that focuses on social action. The Project Arts curriculum includes various arts forms, linking them to other disciplines, including math. So, for example, students might study the cultural and historical importance of music in society and then develop podcasts highlighting a political or social message. University Neighborhood’s relationship with NYU means some students get to spend time on the university campus, and NYU social work interns work with high-risk students.
Teachers responding to a DOE survey generally expressed approval of the school and said they would recommend it to fellow teachers as well as to families seeking a middle school. The suspension rate is high but overall students see discipline as fair and the school as safe.
University Neighborhood shares its building, known as the Corlears Complex, with Orchard Collegiate Academy, a small high school, and Manhattan Charter School II, a k-5 school. The schools all use a full-size cafeteria and gym, plus music rooms, modern science labs and a paved outdoor recreation area.
Special education: University Neighborhood has an unusually high percentage of students with disabilities. All general education students and most special education students are in team teaching classes with a mix of general and special education students, with some students with disabilities in self-contained classes. The school is slated to begin offering NEST, a program where students on the autism spectrum are in small teach-teaching classes with general education students.
Admission: Fifth graders may apply to either Next Generation Extended Learning @ NYU, which includes a longer school year, or the University Neighborhood Middle School. Both programs are open to all District 1 students. Although the programs are screened, there generally are more seats than applicants. (Gail Robinson, from web reports, April 2019)Read more