University Neighborhood High School

Grades 9-12
Staff Pick
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What’s Special

Founded in collaboration with NYU, school works to create college-bound graduates.

The Downside

School is trying to find a way to offer internships and college courses to more students.

Our Review

At University Neighborhood High School, spreadsheets cover one wall of principal Elizabeth Collins' office. The sheets contain the names of every University Neighborhood student, and blank boxes reveal what credits and Regents exams each student still needs to graduate.

The spreadsheets underscore Collins' determination to improve the school's graduation rate, which once was a dismal 48 percent but by 2011 had risen to 71 percent. Collins also points to her school's most recent Department of Education Progress Report grades, which have gone from a "D" to a "C-plus" since she took over in January 2010. The numbers quantify the general sense that University Neighborhood, once officially categorized as a school in need of improvement (or "SINI"), is making necessary fixes and heading in the right direction.

"When I came, I just put everything in order," Collins said. Fights were common when she arrived in 2010, and often half her day was spent dishing out discipline. At the faculty level, teachers were free to create courses that interested them; as a result, students were enjoying a variety of electives but often hadn't mastered the math, English and science required for diplomas. Collins retooled the curriculum to focus on core subjects, remedial courses and Regents prep. "People didn't like this," she said. More than a dozen teachers left.

The faculty had stabilized by the time we visited in March 2012, but University Neighborhood High School is still working to improve its image. In the classrooms we observed, many longtime teachers kept kids engaged (students eagerly listened to one history teacher's description of gangster Al Capone), but young teachers often had little control over rowdy students clearly uninterested in their lessons. Students we spoke to praised teachers' caring attitudes and willingness to share advice, but in the classrooms teachers often had to raise their voices to be heard over the background din.

University Neighborhood High School opened in September 1999 in what had originally been Manhattan's PS 31, a Lower East Side landmark built in 1902. (It has no connection to University Neighborhood Middle School, despite the similar names.) The five-story Beaux Arts building features high ceilings, large window and ample natural light, but also narrow hallways, a tiny library and no gym (although it does have an indoor weight room and dance studio). A nearby park provides an athletic field.

The name "University Neighborhood" reflects the school's founding collaboration with New York University, a relationship that fed many NYU student teachers to the high school but sent relatively few graduating seniors to NYU. The high school has three full-time employees who help students apply to colleges and prepare for pre-college tests (which the school requires all students take in their junior and senior years). Seniors meet weekly to get advice on their post-graduation options. Recent graduates have been accepted to private schools such as Pace University, St. John's and Penn State, as well as SUNY colleges in Binghamton, Stony Brook, Buffalo and Albany.

The school offers few advanced-placement courses, but one-third of the seniors take business, economics or English classes at Baruch College. Collins said she wants students "to have a sense of being a college student" and experience the rigors of college coursework. She also tries to tailor courses to fit each student's individual needs "to make sure that the students will get as much as possible and be ready for college."

The school offers a number of options for students struggling to master English, particularly recent immigrants from China, including Spanish and Mandarin classes. There are few courses outside of required classes such as math, science and English, but the options are slowly growing.

Special education: The school has six special education teachers who work with other teachers in integrated co-teaching (ICT) classrooms. The school has no self-contained special ed classes, because Collins wants all students held to the same standards. "I want all kids to be treated the same," she said.

Admissions: The school accepts students from throughout New York City, but priority is given to students living in Districts 1 and 2. Applicants must tour the high school during an open house. (Reviewed by Skip Card, March 2012)

About the students

Free or reduced priced lunch
Students with disabilities
English language learners

About the school

Shared campus?
This school is in its own building.
Metal detectors?
How crowded? (Full is 100%)
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average


Average daily attendance
87% Citywide Average
How many students are chronically absent?
37% 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?
37% Citywide Average
How many students say they feel safe in the hallways, bathrooms and locker rooms?
85% Citywide Average
How many students say most students treat each other with respect?
57% Citywide Average

About the leadership

Years of principal experience at this school
5.8 Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?
80% Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal has a clear vision for this school?
85% Citywide Average
How many teachers trust the principal?
80% Citywide Average

About the teachers

How many teachers have 3 or more years of experience teaching?
74% Citywide Average
Teacher attendance
97% 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

Arts offerings

This school has 2 dedicated spaces for Dance and Visual arts
This school has 2 licensed arts teacher in Dance and Music

Engaging curriculum?

How many students say this school offers enough programs, classes and activities to keep them interested?
72% Citywide Average
How many students say they are challenged in most or all of their classes?
54% Citywide Average
How many students say the programs, classes and activities here encourage them to develop talent outside academics?
71% Citywide Average
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

How many graduate?

How many students graduate in 4 years?
77% Citywide Average
How many graduates earn Advanced Regents diplomas?
13% Citywide Average
How many students drop out?
10% Citywide Average

Are students prepared for college?

How many students graduate with test scores high enough to enroll at CUNY without remedial help?
36% Citywide Average
How many students take a college-level course or earn a professional certificate?
37% Citywide Average
How many graduate and enter college within 18 months?
60% 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 English language learners graduate in 4 years?
66% Citywide Average

How does this school serve students with disabilities?

This school offers self-contained classes
This school offers team teaching (ICT)
How many students say that students with disabilities are included in all activities?
68% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say this school offers enough activities and services for their children's needs?
87% 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
How many special ed students graduate in 4 years?
59% Citywide Average
For more information about our data sources, see About Our Data

Programs and Admissions

CTE Hospitality and Tourism
Admissions Method: Ed. Opt.
Program Description

In addition to high school graduation requirements, students in this program are required to take eight additional courses in business, finance, marketing, tourism, and customer service and to participate in outside internships. Besides exploring new careers in hospitality and tourism, students learn skills needed for entry jobs that help them to support themselves while in college. Completion of the program leads to a CTE-endorsed diploma.

Bilingual Mandarin
Admissions Method: Screened: Language
Program Description

Students new to the country are taught by bilingual Mandarin-speaking teachers and get extra support through Academic Intervention Services before and after school as well as on Saturdays. Eligible students, if they choose, are included in our CTE Hospitality and Tourism or Early College program.

University Neighborhood Early College
Admissions Method: Screened
Program Description

Through the University Neighborhood Early College program (UNEC), students can earn up to 24 tuition-free college credits from CUNY Baruch and LaGuardia Colleges. The program is designed for students interested in advancing their education towards college readiness as they work toward meeting high school graduation requirements. Students take College Now courses on the UNHS and college campuses after school and during the school day.


Language Courses

Mandarin, Spanish


Boys PSAL teams

Basketball, Bowling, Handball

Girls PSAL teams

Bowling, Softball

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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200 Monroe Street
Manhattan NY 10002
Lower East Side (District 1)
Trains: F to East Broadway; J, M, Z to Delancey St-Essex St
Buses: M14A, M14D, M15, M21, M22, M9, X14, X37, X38


Elizabeth Collins
Parent Coordinator
Haydee Rodriguez

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