Middle College High School at LaGuardia Community College (MCHS) is a public high school located on the campus of LaGuardia Community College in the Long Island City neighborhood in Queens, New York City, New York, United States. MCHS houses approximately 500 students in 45-35 Van Dam Street, the former L building of LaGuardia College's campus. It is a school within the New York City Department of Education. It is a member of the Middle College National Consortium.
Housed on the LaGuardia Community College campus and founded in 1974 as one of the city's first alternative high schools, Middle College is designed for students who would flounder in a traditional high school setting. It is recognized for its success in turning around at-risk students and is one of 209 schools that the chancellor exempted from the citywide uniform curriculum mandated in 2003. It is also one of 29 schools that the city Department of Education selected for a pilot program that grants schools more freedom in curriculum and budget matters if they adhere to higher standards.
Middle College offers a more collegiate and independent atmosphere than a typical high school. Helping students to blend in, rather than be set apart from the greater college environment. Middle College is a five-year, early college model where students take classes not only for high school but also for college credit at LaGuardia. After completing four years at Middle College, students can earn a diploma and at least 12 or more college credits. If they stay at the school for a fifth year, they can receive an associate's college degree as well.
As a member of the New York Performance Consortium, MCHS has a waiver from the city and state of New York for NY State Regents Exams. Students are only required to take and pass the NY State English Regents, another move away from traditional high-stakes testing. Under the waiver, students are required to create a portfolio of final projects from their classes during their time at MCHS. In 10th grade, students participate in a "Gateway Presentation". Students are mentored and must present a final project from 9th or 10th grade to a panel of students and teachers. In 12th grade, as a graduation requirement, students must do an "Oral Defense Presentation", in which they must present three projects to a panel of teachers. Students are given a faculty mentor as a senior in order to prepare for their presentation.
Classes run on 55-minute schedules, with eight periods per day. Half-days are granted on Wednesday where classes run on 40-minutes. Students are given more autonomy than average high school students, where they are on an open campus. In addition, students and teachers are on first-name basis, creating for a casual learning environment.
In 1974, an innovative educational dream became a reality. Middle College High School, a public secondary school committed to meeting the academic, vocational and affective needs of under-served youth, opened its doors on the campus of LaGuardia Community College in New York City. The dream was grand: To provide a seamless secondary post-secondary educational continuum, use innovative curricula and pedagogy, and create a small nurturing environment. The mix of these elements together with the power of the site, a high school on a college campus, would produce an exciting path to learning for students who have traditionally been the least well served by public education.
The intended outcomes were noble: To decrease the high school dropout rate and increase the college-going and completion rate. The location of the high schools on college campuses would symbolically signal these under-served students that a college education was possible and the natural, logical next step. Their fellow students would be college students with similar socioeconomic backgrounds who overcame similar obstacles to learning. Financially both institutions would profit from the cost effective sharing of resources and a reduction in college level remediation courses.
Transforming the dream into a reality was complex. An educational collaboration between a high school and a college required two traditionally closed institutions to examine the assumptions that had allowed each to exist as if the other did not. It needed their financial, administrative and programmatic support to create a hybrid institution of learning for under-served youth. A dedicated, visionary cadre of administrators and faculty came forward, pursued the dream and persisted in making it a reality. The dropout rate decreased, attendance and course pass rates increased, graduation rates exceeded 80%, and college-going rates soared to better than 85%
Middle College High School athletics is affiliated with International High School and Robert F. Wagner High School located in Long Island City, NY. All teams play under the Robert F. Wagner banner in the Public School Athletic League (PSAL). The school offers participation in 13 sports during the school year.