A Look at 5 NYC Specialized Middle Schools

September 19, 2016

In New York City there are many options for middle school, and a few of these options are categorized as “specialized.”  Some of these unique schools include The Anderson School, NEST, Salk School of Science, New York City LAB Middle School and East Side Middle School. Read on to learn what makes these middle schools so special and to become familiar their application processes.



The Anderson School

The Anderson School, P.S. 334, is located on the Upper West Side and has nearly 600 students in attendance. Anderson provides an accelerated and enriched curriculum for gifted and motivated learners. They are committed to creating an environment that balances social, emotional and academic development to help students reach their potential as producers and consumers of knowledge.  Anderson fosters very personal relationships between teachers and students by creating a small community of two classes per grade.  


Admission to Anderson Middle School can occur before either sixth grade or seventh grade. However, if you are a student in Anderson’s elementary school you are guaranteed a spot for sixth grade. Students must apply using The Anderson School’s application; they do not accept the regular public school admissions application. Students must mail a completed online application, a copy of the student’s IEP paperwork (if applicabale), a copy of the student’s final fourth grade report card with teacher’s comments, and a copy of the student’s fourth grade NYS Math and ELA test scores directly to the school. Once the documents are received, students are given an eligibility score. The 200 highest-scoring students are invited to take an onsite admissions test that involves both a math and writing assignment. After this test, offers of admissions will be made and a waiting list will be established.




NEST+m (New Explorations in Science, Technology and Math) is a K-12 school located on the Lower East Side. NEST+m is committed to creating an environment that supports all forms of achievement by nurturing and challenging all forms of giftedness. Their main goal is to teach outstanding communication skills through all the unique courses they offer, including five world languages, computer courses, etc. In addition, they provide an encouraging environment for self-expression through music, art, chess, robotics and additional creative classes.


NEST+m is a citywide Gifted and Talented program. Due to the fact that they are a screen school, their admissions process includes a NEST+m-specific entrance exam. During the admissions process, they consider students’ course grades, standardized test scores, attendance and punctuality. If you are interested in applying, you should attend an open house session and sign up for an entrance exam session.



Salk School of Science

The Salk School of Science is a middle school located on the Lower East Side. They have a strong focus in science and even have supplemental lessons and staff mentors from the NYU School of Medicine and NYU School of Dentistry. In each grade, students are required to do a major science project that will be exhibited at a grade-wide Exploratorium. Salk is part of an initiative called “Urban Advantage,” which works closely with the American Museum of Natural History and other cultural institutions to enhance science learning in the classroom.


To apply to Salk, students must apply through the choice process outlined in the Manhattan/District 2 Parent and Student Middle School Guide. If you select Salk as your first choice, you will be contacted to take an admissions test. The admissions test consists of a writing sample, a hands-on science assignment, an interview and report cards.



NYC Lab School

New York City LAB Middle School for collaborative studies is located in Chelsea, with an enrollment of nearly 600 students. Some of their highest achievements include being ranked as the “#2 Public Middle School in New York” state in 2012-2013 and earning an “A” for six consecutive years on the NYC DOE progress, performance and environment report. LAB is part of NYC’s Empowerment Schools Association, which means they can customize their curriculum.


One example of this is their interdisciplinary Humanities program, which has been developed internally over the past seven years by their teachers and educational leaders. One of LAB’s main philosophies is collaboration and the importance of sharing ideas to learn from one another.


Applications to LAB Middle School are completed through the choice process outlined in the Manhattan/District 2 Parent and Student Middle School Guide. They use the screening method to decide who receives admittance. LAB also has many tours that occur before the application is due that allow parents to get a better feel for the school.



East Side Middle School

East Side Middle School is a specialized middle school located on the Upper East Side. ESMS is recognized as a professional development school for science, mathematics, and technology. They focus on creating a nurturing learning environment by building students’ self-esteem through accomplishments and encouraging individuals to explore new ideas. They have a unique interdisciplinary curriculum, which goes above and beyond the NYC and New York State curricula, and focuses on both independent and collaborative group work.


East Side Middle School is a screened school located in District 2 in Manhattan. In order to be considered, the student must list ESMS as their first choice on the DOE Middle School Application. Students are screened based on their academic record, performance on the most recent Math and ELA tests, their performance on a math and writing exam taken at ESMS, and a short interview with a faculty member. It is important to note if a student is late more than 10 times, or has more than 10 unexcused absences, they won’t be considered. To learn more information about ESMS, it is recommended that parents attend an open house event.


When it comes to middle school, there are a lot of specialized options. At Bright Kids we offer tutoring for many of the admissions tests that these schools administer. For more information on these services, or more information on school application processes, email info@brightkidsnyc.com.

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