new Clinton rubric and today's feedback wrap up

Again, thanks folks for sharing your feedback, insights, and take aways from open houses. This is all amazing! And Clinton posted their new rubric that’s straight up data, again, no interviews and no writing samples. 

Good luck to all of you heading to fairs this weekend. 


new rubric (that attendance stuff is super specific): 




My daughter and I went on the Beacon tour yesterday and, in my opinion it was very very well-run.  We waited in line for an hour or so.  They took big groups into the cafeteria where the principal/founder spoke for about a minute and then we heard from 2 seniors.  We then broke into our tour groups based on our table number.  We visited three classrooms:

1)    English - The presentation was given by 3 students who went through the curriculum by year.  Senior year is electives.  There IS an English regents exam at Beacon, but that is the only regents exam.  There is no AP english/humanities offered because Beacon considers their english courses honors classes that are already operating at a higher level.  
2)    Math - The presentation was given by a teacher and 2 students (sophomore and senior).  Entering freshmen take a placement exam to see if they should skip algebra and go straight to geometry.  The teacher explained that they want “mastery” of algebra before you’re allowed to skip because they don’t want any students to struggle with Algebra II.  The students answered questions and shared their struggles.  Tutors (mostly teachers) are available during free periods and sometimes after school.  The students said that sometimes the teacher will skip their lunch period to provide extra help for a student who needs it.  They felt that communication was very open and easy with the teachers.  There are AP math classes and some interesting electives (statistics, economics, etc.).  The electives change year to year based on interest and teaching capacity.
3)    Science - We sat in a physics classroom with the teacher and 2 juniors.  They were engaged and did a quick demonstration of a project; riding a bike to power a light.  They spoke a little more about the PBA’s and how the teacher is a great help in finding interesting topics or (as was the case with one student) make what appears to be a dry topic into an interesting one.  There are electives for science as well as AP courses.

Each student gets a locker that is assigned their first day and they keep all 4 years

The school was very bright, clean, warm (not in temperature)

Someone in our tour asked our tour guide about drugs at Beacon.  She did not feel it was an issue at Beacon and actually named a different school that apparently has a reputation for heavy drug use.  I’m not going to say what school she mentioned, since it is just hearsay, but I thought it was important to add as further reinforcement that this is a high school  issue in general and not a specific school issue.

There seemed to be a great assortment of clubs, sports and activities.

We did not see any arts programs and nobody on our tour asked about them.  For that I’m relying on current family input and the website.

Since it’s a consortium school, there are no regents exams (except for English).  Each class has a PBA (performance based assessment) which is a big project that is graded and worked on with the teacher.  I found the following link very helpful in explaining what a “consortium” school is:



Brooklyn Latin

We attended TBLS tour this morning (Oct 13) and were ushered into the auditorium prior to the 9 am start.  A number of students took questions while attendees assembled. The school shares a 1930's building with the Williamsburg HS for Art & Technology and the Green School and the infrastructure is the essence of "old school." TBLS primarily uses 1/2 of the first floor, about 5 classrooms on the second floor and the gym which is on the 3rd floor. Our tour only took us around the first floor. 

Several staff spoke to begin the visit, describing the genesis and philosophy of the school (modeled after Boston Latin; other info same as what is on the website). They spoke about the declamation (twice a year in each of English and history), IB courses beginning in 11th grade, Socratic method of seminar teaching, twice a week sessions of "Theory of Knowledge" where students are encouraged to question the source of "facts". True to its name (and probably well known among this message board), Latin is required all 4 years.  This is in addition to the expected subjects of English, history, math, and science.  English and history are focused on the classics.  We also heard one student give her public declaration from a passage refering to the immigrant experience. It was quite moving. 

We were then split into small groups of ~ 10 with a student for a quick tour of the 1st floor.  She took us to peek into a few classes, though these intrusions were brief and we simply observed.  At one senior history class, the students were in groups of 4 to 5 working on a group assignment about the assassination of Ngo Dinh Diem.  We also visited a junior Latin class where they were translating the Aeneid.  We did not see the arts facilities, the gym, or the cafeteria.

The tour guides (all of them happened to be girls, except for one fearless boy) were articulate and honest.  Some came from private schools, all emphasized how they like d the small family feeling of the school; and the emphasis on discourse and public speaking.  We asked our tour guide if they interacted much with the other schools that shared the building and she said no.  The lunch times are separate, and they use different staircases to access the gym and cafeteria.  The guides did note a downside to the shared space, that auditorium and gym times were limited given the demands of the other schools.  We peeked into a computer room and a science lab, and the equipment looked comparable to other schools we've seen (like Bard, School of the Future), but TBLS facilities, of course, pale in comparison to the shiny new digs of Clinton and Beacon.

I was very impressed with the students, and my finicky 8th grader liked it as well.  TBLS is a gem of a school.  As a Manhattan family, the commute will be a challenge, with or without the L train. 

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We went this morning as well. In addition to below, worth calling out how warm and welcoming the teaching staff were. Unlike at other schools, I wasn't hurried off when I stayed behind to ask questions, and there seemed to be a great relationship between  staff and students.

There seemed to be a lot of clubs, feminist, debate, model UN, black students assc., etc.

I asked about the value of Latin and got some interesting insight into the association between Latin and maths, puzzle solving, teamwork. And English SATs!

I went thinking it would be a low rank school, but certainly it has jumped up the order. Really impressed.


HSAS (American Studies)

Very very small school and proud of it. 

Excellent vibe - the principal knows every student by name and greets them at the door every morning.

Students say that everyone takes care of everyone.

Curriculum is unashamedly history based. 3 years of American history, 2 of global history. Strong skew towards humanities based approach to life. 

They argued that their math and sciences are as strong as other schools. 

Building has ONE hallway - just opposite the Lehman College - which is fantastic in facilities and beautiful.

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Lehman was a great presentation (tons of people there).  The students we spoke with all said it was an incredibly supportive environment.  All we asked had a similar answer on homework 2-3 hours a night depending on if you procrastinate or not.  They do not have core tests on the same days and the teachers are very accessible.

Best for those who travel from far: Lehman works with a private bus company and they determine the route (several buses) based on the kids locations. The Lower Manhattan students we spoke with said they either sleep on the bus or finish up homework but it was better than the subway (especially if you are sleeping).   One of the kids from downtown said they pick up in BPC at 6:20am for an 8am start to school. 

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I attended the open house last night with our son and two years ago with our daughter. The presentation last night was the best high school presentation I have seen. There was significantly more people in the audience last night than two years ago and everybody around me, my son, and his friends were very excited. I predict the Lehman SHSAT cut-off score will go up again. It will be my son's first choice.

They admit only 90 students. Average class size is 26 students. Everybody knows everybody. Every single student who has graduated from Lehman since its founding 16 years ago has been admitted to a college. One of the students in the video who has ADHD and dyslexia spoke gratefully how accommodating the school has been. 

If I understood correctly, it is not possible to take Computer Science or Statistics in the HSAS (High School of American Studies) but 11th and 12th year students can take classes in the next door Lehman College. However, the class schedule in Lehman College has to fit with HSAS schedule. I have no idea how big a problem this could be but worth paying attention if your child is STEM oriented. 

Our daughter goes to Bronx Science. Lehman and Bronx Science use the same private school service. We live in Upper East Side and she leaves home every morning at 7am to be at school by 8am. If she is traveling by friends she takes the subway home, otherwise the bus.  

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We took the 4 train from 86th street to the Bedford Park Blvd/Lehman College stop; 3rd stop from the end of the line; about a 40 minute trip and ashort walk from the station to the Lehman campus.  New information for us was that the HSAS is actually a small, single-story building that sits across the street from the main campus.  At the end of the presentations (below) the entire audience walked over to the HSAS building.  Thousands had to line up just to get in to the school to then take a one minute walk through the building; organized chaos.   A cheerful looking space with posters and trophies.   We could only peek into some of the classrooms & labs but they looked clean and functional.  Walking into this stand-alone building, it felt like we were entering a small elementary school, one I suspect you would find in a suburb.  People we met – the presenters, the peace officers & parent coordinator, seemed very nice & pleasant.  Students offered Q&A while we were on line (a welcomed distraction) and as you might expect, were all bright, confident, and helpful.

For those who have not seen the school, I found this 2012 video if you want to see the outside -

Also their list of 2017 College Acceptances -

In summary, a high-achieving school that seems unique in its size, intimacy, physical building, and deep-dive into social studies/ history.  Their class periods seem to be on the longer side – 55 minutes  vs. e.g.,  Stuy’s & Brooklyn Tech’s 41 minutes.  The flip side is that it cannot scale like the larger schools in terms of club &team offerings, AP offerings, and the ability to build a house indoors. J   A nice school for the right kid.  More details below.  -  RCT.


·        Open House started with prospective students & families gathering in a huge Lehman auditorium.  Place was packed.  From a photo shown, it looks like this is where graduation takes place.

·        Welcome remarks from the principal, Allesandro Weiss, before introducing a movie shot by one of the students.  Principal was charismatic, funny, informative, and seems to love his school.

·        The student-shot movie was excellent providing life at American Studies from a student perspective.  Movie kicks off with a student waking up and getting ready for school and then it goes from there.  Several students profiled, coming from different boroughs/different distances; some commuting by bicycle, public transportation, and private bus (Vallo).  Interviews with students and staff.  Takeaways from the movies included  -  students there are full of enthusiasm and have a passion for learning, they have access to college classes, 55 minutes for lunch (inside or out…but it wasn’t clear if you could leave the campus), a nice gym, a strong assortment of clubs and teams, and you will make friends/find your tribe.  Kids looked happy.

·        Following the movie, the principal spoke:

a.     Yes, it is competitive to get in – 90 seats.

b.     School is humanities focused but ample offerings for math and science.

c.      (Slide) Innovative Curriculum with Great College Resources and Private Funding

d.     (Slide) Numerous Awards and high rankings - #1 School from the Blackboard Awards/Manhattan Media

e.     It is a small school where everyone is known and helps create a sense community.  Principal greets all students at the door, and by name, each morning.

f.       Website recently re-designed

g.     Access to college classes in junior and senior years

h.     The right school if you have a love for learning and intellectual curiosity.  They welcome kids who are “mouthy” and open-minded.

i.        The school is 16 years old (2002)

j.       Teachers are screened; hired by committee (faculty/parents/students)

k.     ~100 students are enrolled in college classes; available at no additional costs and textbooks are free

l.        Periods are 55 minutes long.  6 periods of classes + lunch.  I see on the website M-Thurs – 8:05 to 2:48pm, Fri – 8:05 – 1:52pm(47 min periods)

m.  Their curriculum allows them to go much deeper on topics, especially compared to other schools.  Rigorous Curriculum/”College Ready” (from slide) – 

                                                              i.      6 Years of Social Studies -  (AP US History, 3 yrs)  (AP World History, 2 yrs) (Gov’t and Economics, 1 yr), plus electives.  History electives include Law, Film, Current Events, European History, Foreign Policy, Modern US History

                                                            ii.      4 Years of Math – Algebra, Geometry, Trig, AP Calculus

                                                          iii.      4 Years of Science – Bio, Chemistry, Physics, AP Science,  plus electives

                                                         iv.      4 Years of English -  Classics, American, British, and World Literature, AP Language, AP Literature, plus electives

                                                           v.      3 Years of Foreign Language.  Was hard to discern but I believe this is only Spanish.  But, students can take (maybe as electives?) language courses at Lehman: Chinese, French, Greek, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Latin, Russian, and Spanish

n.     Ample offering of clubs and new ones can be created.   One of the clubs is Peer Tutoring (good to know/helpful) and others sound more fun

o.     Championship Athletic/PSAL Teams for joining

p.     Funding from the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History (Slide) – provides funding for activities & trips, seminars with eminent historians, Saturday workshops, visits to exhibits and museums, special lectures from noted scholars. Partnership allows for internships at the Gilder Lehman Institute and NYC Historical Archives and participation in Junior Historians’ Fourums. 

q.     School brings in many high-end guest speakers (politics, history)

r.      Trips -  Freshman trip to Old Sturbridge, MA.   Other trips (not sure what grades) – Hyde Park (FDR), NYC museums and institutions,  Washington DC, 

s.      Collaboration with Lehman College supports Independent Research (Slide) -  allows students to access the college’s 150 electronic research databases from home, in addition to advanced study for college credit (junior/senior year).  Also allows for independent research projects with Lehman faculty and internships.  Relationship also allows HSAS to take advantage of cultural events such as  concerts, lectures, etc.

t.       (Slide) Students can use Lehman’s sports and recreation complex for gym and other activities

u.     Diverse history offerings – “From Disco to Obama” and the more timely offering,  “Fact from Fiction

v.     Course catalog is available online(just downloaded it….it is a course catalog and more. You can find it under “Faculty” on the top menu bar or here)

w.   Average class size is 26 (slide).  Allows for individualized attention

x.      Model UN team has placed #1 internationally (not sure when or how many times).  Moot Court and Mock Trial City Champions

y.     School has their own garden/vegetable farm.  This year the school had a “Pestopalooza” to celebrate their basil bumper crop

z.      A healthy amount of school trips (I missed the photo opp of that slide as to where else they go)

aa. One of the social studies classes had them doing gravesite research

bb.   Many students take on political internships

cc.  School has a gym, science labs, and a cafeteria (which I think they share w the college but sitseparate from them)

dd.  Lehman has a new science building

ee. 9th graders are required to take a class in Research Methodology @ Lehman

ff.    School puts on a couple of theater productions during the year – e.g. – The Lion in Winter

gg. Campus Peace Officers escort student moving from American Studies building to other areas of the campus

hh. College:

 i.      100% of graduates accepted to college – all the Ivy League colleges and others are in play

 ii.      100% of seniors graduated with Advanced Regents or Regents Diplomas

              ii.      100% of their current senior class have already taken at least two AP exams and ¾ of those students have been identified by the College Board as AP Scholars or AP Scholars with Honors or with distinction

              jj.     Students graduated are tracked through college and beyond for keeping tabs on achievements and potential internship contacts

             kk. Universities come to the HSAS campus to pitch their schools

·        We then heard from Arnie Mansdorf, a history professor.  He added:

a.     That they go really deep on history and do not “teach for the test”

b.     Homework (I think he means overall, not just for history) is about 3 hours

c.      Many of the professors at the school have advanced degrees (including PhDs) and have won awards of distinction

d.     Professional development encouraged for teachers (Mansdorf just attended a conference on Winston Churchill)

e.     Students take 3 years of AP American History

·        We then heard from Amanda Bollaiti, Biology Science teacher, 2008 HSAS alumnus.  She also met her husband at HSAS:

a.     Did not have much to add but confirmed that there are ample science and math offerings to accommodate the needs of STEM kids

·        We then heard from a student.  Charming, excellent public speaking ability.  She clearly loved the school, assured kids they would make friends, and she started a club that tutors 7th graders nearby. 

Copying the remainder from the course catalog: 


Students complete three years of study in Advanced Placement United States History. Students also take two years

of global history and geography, as well as required courses in government and economics. HSAS offers interested

students a series of courses and activities in criminal and constitutional law. In all social studies courses, students

study history from multiple points of view, using primary source documents. The aim is to foster the development

of college-level skills in research and analysis. Annual trips, both within New York City and to other American

cities, help to enrich the curriculum and make history “come alive” for our students.


Students take four years of coursework in English, covering pre-Renaissance literature, post-Renaissance

literature, Shakespeare, American literature, English literature, world literature, poetry, and modern

drama. Ninth-grade students are required to take a course in research methodology. In all of our English

classes, we emphasize the careful interpretation of literature and the development of college-level,

analytic writing skills. Public speaking skills are integrated into the curriculum for each grade. Instruction

is also provided in grammar, usage, and mechanics.


Students take four years of mathematics, including algebra, geometry, advanced algebra, trigonometry,

and pre-calculus. Eligible students have the opportunity to take Advanced Placement Calculus (AB) as

well as elective courses in other subjects. In all classes, students work to develop both the conceptual

understanding and the skills necessary for advanced study in this field and for applications to other areas of study.


Students complete three years of required science courses in biology, chemistry, and physics. Advanced students may

elect to take an AP science course or other elective, either at HSAS or at Lehman College. Above all, teachers

work to help students develop the analytic skills and the laboratory methodology in order to be prepared for college level

study in this discipline. 


Students are required to complete three years of study in a foreign language. Regardless of the level at which

students begin, they must still complete three years of coursework at the High School of American Studies. The

aim is to develop students’ skills in reading, writing, listening, and speaking. Students are also introduced to

culture and civilization through the use of relevant literature, films, music, newspapers, and periodicals.

On the basis of their scores on our placement examination in Spanish, ninth-grade students are

placed into one of the courses described below. (see catalog for remainder)



Students must take two semesters of instruction in music, usually completed in Grade 10, and two semesters of

instruction in art, usually completed in Grade 11.


Students take seven terms of physical education and one term of health education. P.E. classes are scheduled in

the college’s gym facilities.

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My son is in 10th grade there, and we took my daughter to the Open House last night. Mr. Weiss is every bit as good as he sounds and he really does know the name of every student—indeed, he teaches grammar to every student his or her first semester there-. The movie accurately depicted the spirit of the place. It is a wonderful, happy school full of kids passionate about policy, politics, history, law, debate, writing, and every thing else on that end of the intellectual spectrum. It’s a pleasure and often an education to listen to them. 

I should note that HSAS really is all about history. I can’t imagine any high school where history is better taught. Instruction in other subjects is strong but not in the same league Which is not to say that they’re weak, just that HSAS hires truly amazing history teachers, and the others are more like at other good schools—the majority very good, some not so good.. Do note that the math offerings are limited and the school does not go beyond A/B Calculus. But it is possible that a student who wanted to go beyond that and was qualified to do so could do it at Lehman. I don’t know.

Museum School

My daughter and I visited the Museum School yesterday I thought I would share a few notes and impressions with the group.

The Museum school shares the facilities with LAB school. The schools have different bell schedules and are located on different floors. They share use of the cafeteria, auditorium, and gym areas--although not at the same time. They do share sports teams which gives them the capacity to participate in a broader range of sports than smaller schools can support. They participate PSAL Sports: basketball, soccer, baseball, tennis, golf, volleyball, and track (indoor and cross country).

The conceit of the Museum school as that they use Museums as resources to support the curriculum. Each year there are four museum modules which entail the students going to various museums in the city (with their teachers as a group, from school). During this week-long engagement, they do research in the museum to support what they are learning. They are dismissed from the museums; they do not return to school at the end of the day--so for some, this might prove to be logistically challenging. 

Typical museum modules include:

History of religion


Latin American Colonization & Culture

99% of the kids graduate and go to college. 77% graduate with an advanced Regents diploma. The school is highly ranked by Newsweek and the NY Post. 

They offer 6 AP classes. Afterschool activities are run by Manhattan Youth.

Admissions criteria:

District 2 is given precedence, but only 24% of students are from District 2, 75% come from outside the district, and the principal emphasized that she took students from outside of Manhattan, she made an effort to go citywide.

Grades: 85% or over, 3.0 on tests, 90% attendance.

The Principal appears to be a thoughtful and cosmopolitan woman (D. H. Miller). She has been at the school for 14 years and has received accreditation from Columbia University in something, I am sorry but my notes don't explain what that was. 

The student guides were really well spoken and happy. The classes we visited were well attended and interactive. A fairly traditional classroom set up.

I think this is a good school for a kid who would benefit from smaller school and is interested in Humanities and culture and feels comfortable traveling around the city.