Lack of leadership and transparency is currently a serious problem at Lab. No communication from the administration on key changes affecting students and parents is the preferred choice of a principal who does not have the skills to handle the hundreds of complaints she constantly receives from parents.
During this school year the principal received constant complaints from concerned parents regarding the lack of consistency of the grading policies used by different teachers. Her response to it was to remove grades from Jupiter Grades so that parents could no longer track the progress of their children and address potential concerns. This change was implemented with no communication from the school leadership, and parents were left with no guidance on how to best support their children. Particularly, parents of 7th graders, whose this year’s grades will be submitted for High School applications next year, have provided the principal with numerous examples on how the existing inconsistent grading policy was putting Lab students at disadvantage to compete for High School, and have begged her to review the grading policy to achieve standards that properly reflected the children academic abilities. The consistent response from the administration was: “the grading policy will not change”. None of the concerns raised by parents were addressed.
The administration has been promising parents in individual meetings (invitations to collective meetings were always declined by the principal) that teachers round up final grades to reflect student overall effort. This is not only a dubious practice that allows for lack of transparency and subjectivity, it is also a clever tactic to keep parents complaints in line hoping for those 2 miserable points at the end of the year.
This school has gone downhill in recent years due to a weak/inexperienced administrator. Because she won't put her foot down, each teacher uses his/her own online system for school assignments/grades. Some don't use any online tools at all. But that means by the time you are done with three years, your child will have used Google drive, Google classroom, Jupiter Grades, Edmodo, Gmail and more. That means in 8th grade, for example, your child has to check in with four different systems each night to ensure that all homework is collected (and still not feel secure that he/she got it all because some teachers don't use any systems at all). Some teachers choose to post grades so you can track your child's progress, others do not. In addition, wait til you have a problem or concern with your child. You may be lucky to get one email response back from the school, but after that, communication shuts down. The Principal is Always Right. Go Away. That is the message you will receive. The administration only looks out for the kids that better its reputation. If your child falls below the fold, he/she will suffer at Lab.
Why is the principal hiring teachers with no previous teaching experience? One of the top notch middle schools in Manhattan and experienced teachers with a proven track record can't be found? This should be a school of choice for top notch teachers. Why can't the school attract them? Brace yourself if you decide to send your child to Lab. With the exception of a few excellent experienced teachers, you will find a team of teachers with a couple of years of teaching under their belts and with rigid views about what teaching/learning is supposed to be. Nothing inspiring about this place.
My older daughter graduated from Lab and had a wonderful experience, mainly because she had amazing teachers. My younger daughter is now a 7th grader at Lab and is having a completely different experience because she has horrible teachers. It is heartbreaking to watch, but it is truly a roll of the dice at Lab. If your child gets the great teacher he/she will have a wonderful experience and a great education, if, on the other-hand your child gets the teachers who are just punching a clock, don't care about the kids, never return emails and just waiting to retire, expect to have a horrible experience and hire a private tutor.
Do NOT send your child to Lab Middle School if he/she has an IEP. Lab Middle School is an excellent school for students who excel academically, are good test takers and independent workers. The work is fast paced, demanding and test focused. Students who have difficulty with attention or learning disabilities will get lost in the shuffle at Lab. While there are a few teachers who are compassionate and helpful, many teachers, including the special education teachers, seem to lack psychological insight. For instance, my son was told There will always be distractions in life. It is up to you to ignore them . He was not then given tools to help with this goal. Would you tell someone who is hard of hearing that he needs to listen better? My husband and I had to frequently intervene and advocate on our son s behalf. I talked to other parents, who also felt unsupported at Lab. Lab prides themselves on their values of pluralism, diversity and long history of working with students with special needs. They need to market themselves for what they actually are: a competitive, demanding school for students who excel academically.
While I recognize that all experiences are different, I have to respectfully disagree with the last post about children with IEPs. I have an eighth grader at LAB with an IEP, and the experience has been fantastic. He has been challenged, without doubt, but that is what we wanted. He has likewise been supported, and all of his special ed teachers have been very sensitive and flexible. I feel so grateful that LAB was there as an option for a child like ours because he is proud to be a part of such a strong school, is pushed to his full potential, and feels supported for what challenges him. We couldn't have chosen a better school for him.
Lab Middle School is a very demanding and top rated school with a weak IEP program. Experiences are different and I would say that as a parent of a child with learning disabilities who attended Lab, Lab's IEP program is not very good. And this is as per the Board of Education's evaluation of my son's IEP and how information was missing from it and how much was not done to support him throughout each school year. it was a struggle and very draining and at times I didn't feel like some of the teachers had the proper training and psychological insight to be in special education. Experiences vary and mine was not a good one but not because I think Lab is bad school but because their IEP program is weak.
I am a current student at this school, and I have to say that Lab is amazing. It has great resources, great teachers (mostly), and great students. The atmosphere is competitive, but teachers try to make it as compassionate as they can. First, the teachers teach what they know to be necessary for a young adult growing up. They teach us things that relate to our lives and help us along. They also make lessons interesting instead of boring and monotonous. We learn while enjoying ourselves, which is the best environment a teacher can make. Next, the students are amazing individuals. I have made many friends during my time at Lab that I know I will never forget. Finally, the school library is enormous, with ample space for students to study or do homework, and a massive collection of good books. The library also has the textbooks students need for their classes, so if you need a textbook you can always have one. Overall, the only con I would say exists is sharing the school with two other schools, which doesn't even affect the environment at Lab. I'm a Labbie and I'm proud of it :)
I'm currently a student in Lab Middle School and I think this school is amazing. There is a lot of pressure to do well, especially in the seventh grade as we prepare for high school admission tests. You will often hear that "everything counts!". Sixth grade was definitely more of a time to settle in and get to know people, and by the time you are in seventh you will know how to manage your time and do your work efficiently. I still feel a lot of pressure to do well in school and oftentimes this leads to stress. That is basically the only downside to Lab. The teachers are (usually) great, we don't have more than an hour and half to two hours of homework a night and the classes are interesting. I still give this school a four star rating because at Lab, there is always room to improve.