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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, participate in weekly community service-based internships and enjoy a wide variety of arts classes.

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.

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. Students also choose from arts classes such as painting, photography (darkroom and digital), filmmaking, dance, playwriting, raps & beats, and poetry.

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 photography, math lab and Dungeons and Dragons.

SPECIAL EDUCATION: The school has special education teacher support services (SETSS), integrated co-teaching (ICT), speech and language therapy and counseling.(Katharine Safter, web reports and phone interview, July 2018; updated August 2020)

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School Stats

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


Transfer school graduation rate
How many parents of students with disabilities say this school offers enough activities and services for their children's needs?
How many parents of students with disabilities say this school works to achieve the goals of their students' IEPs?
From the 2021-22 School Quality Guide and 2020-21 NYC School Survey


Number of students
Citywide Average is 615


Low-income students
Students with disabilities
Multilingual learners
From the 2022-23 Demographic Snapshot

Safety & Vibe

How many students were suspended?
How many students say they feel safe in the hallways, bathrooms and locker rooms?
How many students think bullying happens most or all of the time at this school?
How many students say that some are bullied at their school because of their gender or sexual orientation?
How many teachers say they would recommend this school to other families?
From the 2020-21 NYC School Survey and 2019-20 NY State Report Card

Faculty & Staff

How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?
Years of principal experience at this school
Citywide Average is 7
Number of students for each guidance counselor or social worker
Citywide Average is 157

Teachers’ Race/Ethnicity

How many teachers have 3 or more years of experience teaching?
Are teachers effective?
From the 2020-21 NYC School Survey, 2021-22 School Quality Guide, 2019-20 Report on School-Based Staff Demographics, 2021 Guidance Counselor Report, and this school's most recent Quality Review Report

College Readiness

How many students graduate with test scores high enough to enroll at CUNY without remedial help?
From the 2020-21 and 2021-22 School Quality Guide
How many students filled out a FAFSA form by the end of their senior year?
From the 2022-23 FAFSA data released by Federal Student Aid, brought you by
For more information about our data sources, see About Our Data · More DOE statistics for this school

Contact & Location


317 East 67th Street
Manhattan NY 10065

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


Principal: Christine Olson

Parent Coordinator: Anson Dean


Other Details

Shared campus? Yes

This school shares the Julia Richman Educational Campus with four other schools

Uniforms required? No
Metal detectors? No

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