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Urban Academy Laboratory High School

Grades: 9-12
Staff Pick
317 East 67 Street
Manhattan NY 10065
Phone: 212-570-5284
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Our Insights

What’s Special

Liberating atmosphere for intellectual students

The Downside

Some students need more structure

Urban Academy Laboratory High School is the offbeat granddaddy of alternative schools, open to 9th-graders as well as older students who want to transfer. Those who attend feel liberated from much of the burden of testing, enjoy choosing their classes, get to complete in-depth projects and participate in weekly community service-based internships.

Urban Academy “attempts to reduce the formal trappings of traditional education” while maintaining “rigorous academic standards,” Principal Adam Grumbach said. It is part of the New York Performance Standards Consortium, a group of schools exempt from administering all but the English Regents exam. In order to graduate, student must complete PBATs (performance based assessment tasks), which involve extensive research and reading as well as writing and presenting papers in English, math, history, science, creative arts and criticism.

The schools serves all kinds students including those who have floundered at high-performing schools such as Stuyvesant and Murrow, who are unsatisfied with low-performing schools and who dislike Regents exams but want to go to college. They commute from all five boroughs and come from different racial, ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds.

The tone is relaxed. There is a “tradition of respect among students and staff” and the school wants its students to feel comfortable, Grumbach explained. Before and after school you may find students playing ping pong or relaxing on the couches in the lounge. Students call their teachers by their first names. Class size ranges from about 12 to 25 students, according to the school’s website.

Students may choose their classes from titles like “Puerto Rico: Past, Present and the Future” and “Human Behavior: You Can Google That!” Students may be asked to debate Christopher Columbus’s legacy taking “a position and arguing using evidence” rather than writing “a report on how Christopher Columbus ‘discovered’ America,” the school’s website describes.

Instead of offering Advanced Placement classes, students have the option of taking courses at local colleges like Hunter College and Sarah Lawrence College, according to the school’s website.

Students get a lot of individual attention, with teachers committed to supporting them in and out of the classroom, Grumbach said, and volunteers tutor students after school. There is one school counselor and a social worker from Mount Sinai Hospital available in the school-based health clinic.

One afternoon a week, students go to their community service internship. In the past students have spent their time at museums, non-profits, senior citizen centers, and state senators' offices, the school’s website explains.

Students receive an unusual amount of support throughout the college process. College counselors are responsible for fewer than 20 students each, the school organizes visits to local colleges, and a financial aid specialist is available, according to the school’s website. Students have been accepted into a range of schools including Oberlin, Bard, Rochester Institute for Technology, art schools, CUNYs and SUNYs.

Urban Academy is located in the Julia Richman Educational Complex on the Upper East Side. The complex houses six schools and they share some facilities including the library, cafeteria, pool and gym. The high schools in the building field a handful of PSAL sports teams and Urban Academy offers extracurricular activities like theater club and instrumental instruction.

SPECIAL EDUCATION: The school has special education teacher support services (SETSS), integrated co-teaching (ICT), speech and language therapy and counseling.

ADMISSIONS: Open to New York City residents. The school’s admissions process includes a student visit, a written application, and an interview. Parent tours are also offered. Students can apply for fall or spring semester. (Katharine Safter, web reports and phone interview, July 2018)

 

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School Stats

Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

Is this school safe and well-run?

From 2017-18 NYC School Survey

How many teachers say order and discipline are maintained at this school?
100%
77% Citywide Average
How many students say they feel safe in the hallways, bathrooms and locker rooms?
99%
85% Citywide Average
How many students think bullying happens most or all of the time at this school?
9%
36% Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?
100%
80% Citywide Average
How many teachers say they would recommend this school to other families?
100%
81% Citywide Average

From this school's most recent Quality Review Report

Are teachers effective?

From 2016-17 School Quality Guide

How many teachers have 3 or more years of experience teaching?
93%
74% Citywide Average
Years of principal experience at this school
3.3

How do students perform academically?

From 2016-17 School Quality Guide

Transfer school graduation rate
72%
53% Citywide Average
How many students graduate with test scores high enough to enroll at CUNY without remedial help?
34%
37% Citywide Average
How many students take a college-level course or earn a professional certificate?
63%
38% Citywide Average

From 2017 NY State Graduation Outcomes

How many graduates earn Advanced Regents diplomas?
0%
13% Citywide Average

Who does this school serve?

From 2017-18 Demographic Snapshot

Enrollment
160
Asian
4%
Black
31%
Hispanic
38%
White
26%
Other
1%
Free or reduced priced lunch
58%
Students with disabilities
14%
English language learners
0%


For more information about our data sources, see About Our Data · More DOE statistics for this school

Contact & Location

Location

Upper East Side (District 2)
Trains: 4 Line, 5 Line, N Line, R Line, W Line to Lexington Ave-59 St; 6 Line to 68th St-Hunter College; F Line, Q Line to Lexington Ave-63 St

Contact

Principal
Adam Grumbach
Parent Coordinator
ALBA SANTIAGO

Other Details

Shared campus?
Yes
This school shares the Julia Richman Educational Campus with four other schools
Metal detectors?
No

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