New York is the city of highs and lows and its schools are no exception. The top schools both public and private send their alums on to top colleges and illustrious careers. The bottom feeders, however, are reeling from high absenteeism and students that have a tough time passing standardized tests.
Stuyvesant – School Of Nobel Laureates
If you’re want to send your child to one of the best public school in Manhattan look no further than Stuyvesant High School, most experts agree.
The Battery Park City school is on resumes of several Nobel laureates. It consistently leads the nation in number of National Merit Scholarships.
About 15 percent of Stuyvesant grads head to the Ivy League. They scale the Ivy wall with stratospheric test scores. Stuyvesant graduates earn an average SAT score of about 1400.
Stuyvesant kids are no slouches in school, either. Statistics from the report show reading and math achievement after four years of instruction at Stuyvesant are higher than any other public high school in the city.
What makes Stuyvesant different? The school takes the cream of the crop of students from around the city. Nearly 27,000 students from all five boroughs vie for 800 seats in the freshman class and are only admitted exclusively by scoring high on a tough admissions examination called Specialized High School Admission Test.
“It’s like winning the lottery for kids that get in,” said Alexis Penzell, superintendent of Stuyvesant. “The kids are all well rounded and have all the qualities.”
Once students are admitted, the school pushes them harder. Students take demanding courses that include four years of English, history, and a lab-based science, three years of math, and elective courses. Thirty-one Advanced Placement courses, more than any other public high school in the city, are available for students to have the opportunity to earn college credits.
With the smart and talented student body, teachers and staff members can expect the studious students to attend class regularly. The Department of Education’s report shows that Stuyvesant has a 96.8 percent attendance rate compared to the 82.5 percentage of other similar schools in the city.
But if your child doesn’t get into Stuyvesant, another top-notch public high school that rivals Stuyvesant based on academic student performance but with smaller student body is NYC Lab School for Collaborative Studies. Student’s test scores are consistently among the highest in the city.
Located in Chelsea, Lab combines middle and high school, serving students in grades six to twelve. Lab focuses on collaboration (group work) among its students. Students are encouraged to work with others on assignments and on various imaginative projects.
Lab School offers numerous electives and a wide range of advanced placement courses. The class size is intimate, and many students can receive one-on-one attention with teachers more than other schools in the city. The average class size is 33 for middle school and 34 for high school and 94 percent of students attend class on a regular basis.
Central Park East Fights Low Scores
On the opposite end of the spectrum from Stuyvesant and Lab School is Central Park East High School in East Harlem.
According to Inside Schools, a non-profit independent organization that provides statistical information of the city’s public schools, the school has drastically changed for the worse. In recent years, Central Park High has experienced rapid staff turnover and uneven student discipline.
Class sizes are small at Central Park East but there is a high absentee rate. The Department of Education’s report shows the number of teachers is dwindling at Central Park East. In 2005, there were 17 teachers on staff down from 20 teachers in 2003. Of the 17 teachers, only 23.5 percent of them had more than five years of teaching experience compared to 56.8 percent of similar schools in the area.
The scores on the Regents Examination in English among seniors showed that 20.6 percent of students scored between 55-64 points, 9 percent lower than students who graduated in 2003.
Despite the statistics, local school officials say that Central Park East is improving.
“Schools in Harlem are moving forward with more of a structured curriculum and different teaching strategies,” said an official from the Region 9 office where Central Park East is located, who declined to give his name because he is not authorized to speak to the press. “Our test scores are in middle for the city, and two thirds of students are better than average readers.” —Paul Chi