High School for Environmental Studies

Grades 9-12
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What’s Special

Molecular biology lab; 10th-grade internships

The Downside

While strong students are challenged, others may find the work too easy

Our Review

At the High School for Environmental Studies (HSES), students maintain a rooftop garden and beehive and learn about composting and recycling. Any 9th- or 10th-grader willing to put in the time and effort may take part in a science research project and those who stick with it are paired with a professional mentor to refine their research in 11th and 12th grades. Roughly 50 sophomores have internships at places such as Wave Hill, Bronx Zoo and the New York Hall of Science.

HSES boasts one of the few high school molecular biology labs in the city. Students may work with professional grade equipment such as a PCR (polymerase chain reaction) machine, which is used to isolate and extract DNA from insects, plants, fruits and even samples provided by the American Museum of Natural History. Students present their research at a symposium sponsored by the Urban Bar Code Project run by the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.

There are plenty of challenging courses for top students. The highly selective Honors Academy admits a small group of high achievers. In addition, there are honors classes and plenty of advanced and college-level courses open to students not in the Honors Academy. However, students who are learning English, students with disabilities and students on the bottom third of their class tend to have less challenging classes, according to the Quality Review.

While there are lots of opportunities for motivated self-starters, the schools size is daunting for some. Some parents have complained that the school is slow to alert them to problems such as a failing grades or spotty attendance. Each guidance counselor is responsible for hundreds of students.

During our visit we saw lots of engaging instruction. Many classrooms were nicely decorated and lined with student projects; students seemed relaxed and attentive. Students write essays in all subjectsnot just English and history.

In addition to honors classes, Advanced Placement (AP) courses are offered in physics, chemistry, biology, environmental science, calculus (AB and BC), English, American history, world history, government and Spanish. Motivated students can take additional AP classes online. For students with weaker skills, the school offers options such as non-Regents chemistry and a math class in financial literacy.

Foreign language instruction is offered in Spanish, Italian and French. In addition to visual art classes, choir and band, students may take gym electives in weight training, yoga and dancethe latter taught by an instructor from the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.

There are PSAL sports teams and a range of clubs such as fantasy science fiction, math team, Model UN, marketing, dance and photography.

A student representative from each homeroom class participates in a leadership program that meets daily at 7:30 am. On our visit, students worked in groups to identify qualities of good leadership such as knowing how to resolve conflicts, or as it was described in class, how to agree to disagree without being disagreeable.

A fulltime college counselor meets with 11th-graders multiple times during their scheduled English class to walk them through the application and financial aid process. Many students attend CUNY and SUNY schools. Roughly 25 percent of graduates attend private school and out-of-state schools, according to the Quality Snapshot.

Special education: The school offers self-contained classes and SETSS.

Admissions: To be considered for the Honors Academy students must have grades of 85 in core subjects, level 3 or 4 scores on standardized tests and a good record of attendance. The Honors Academy admits only 34 students each year and has many more applicants than available seats. Admission to the Environmental Studies program is based on the educational option formula, designed to ensure a mix of low-, average- and-high-achieving students. High achieving students admitted to the Environmental Studies program are placed in honors classes. (Laura Zingmond, March 2015)

About the students

Free or reduced priced lunch
Students with disabilities
English language learners

About the school

Shared campus?
This school shares a building with Independence HS
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
85% Citywide Average
How many students are chronically absent?
42% 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
5.3 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?
73% 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 3 dedicated spaces for Dance, Music, and Visual arts
This school has 2 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?
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?
11% 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?
32% Citywide Average
How many students take a college-level course or earn a professional certificate?
41% Citywide Average
How many graduate and enter college within 18 months?
63% 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?
65% 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?
60% Citywide Average
For more information about our data sources, see About Our Data

Programs and Admissions

Environmental Studies
Admissions Method: Ed. Opt.
Program Description

Interdisciplinary program emphasizing environmental studies: the natural environment, the urban environment, and environmental ethics. Students are expected to engage in research, environmental projects and internships, and complete a senior thesis.

Honors Academy
Admissions Method: Screened
Program Description

Mathematics and science research, work in university laboratories.


Language Courses

French, Italian, Mandarin, Spanish

Advanced Placement (AP) courses

AP Biology, AP Calculus BC, AP Computer Science, AP English Language and Composition, AP English Literature and Composition, AP Environmental Science, AP Macroeconomics, AP Physics, AP U.S. Government and Politics, AP U.S. History


Boys PSAL teams

Baseball, Basketball, Cross Country, Handball, Soccer, Tennis, Volleyball

Girls PSAL teams

Basketball, Handball, Soccer, Softball, 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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444 West 56th Street
Manhattan NY 10019
Hell's Kitchen (District 2)
Trains: 1, 2, A, B, C, D to 59th St-Columbus Circle; E to 50th St; N, Q, R to 57th St
Buses: BxM2, M10, M104, M11, M12, M20, M31, M5, M50, M57, M66, M7, X1, X12, X14, X30, X42, X7, X9


Amber Najmi Shadid
Parent Coordinator
Guillermo Pena

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