Gotham Professional Arts Academy

265 RALPH AVENUE
BROOKLYN NY 11233 Map
Phone: (718) 455-0746
Website: Click here
Admissions: Citywide
Principal: ALEXANDER WHITE
Neighborhood: Bedford-Stuyvesant
District: 16
Grade range: 09 thru 12
Parent Coordinator: EDMUND ARCHIBALD

Buses: B15, B25, B26, B45, B46, B47, B7

What's special:

Frequent school trips; small supportive atmosphere

The downside:

Shared space in elementary school building; high crime neighborhood

InsideSchools Review

Our review:

Gotham Professional Arts Academy in Bedford Stuyvesant attracts artsy students who prefer a non-traditional setting. The school even sponsors "Oddball days" for students and staff to celebrate the ways in which all are different.

Opened in 2007 by Alex White, a longtime theater and arts teacher at Urban Academy, Gotham has adopted many of that school's features, such as mixed-age class groupings and a relaxed, supportive atmosphere. Like Urban, it is a member of the Coalition of Essential Schools, which promotes small, personal schools that have "portfolio assessments" rather than standardized tests. Students are on a first name basis with staff and they have a voice in making decisions.

Students are exempt from taking most Regents exams but must demonstrate their mastery of topics through in-depth oral and written presentations known as portfolio based assessments, or PBATs.

Classes last 60 minutes and have unusual names and themes to keep kids interested. The X-files is really an algebra class; PG 13 is geometry. For those who have time in their schedule, electives include the spoken word, lyrical poetry, lamp-making and capoeira. Through a partnership with the Fashion Institute of Technology, Gotham students may take fashion and design Saturday workshops at FIT.

Entering ninth graders are given an introductory arts course with six-week sessions that rotate among visual art, criticism, production and performance. Students then choose which major they wish to pursue.

"The arts flag that we fly attracts students who define as different from mainstream. We tend to attract Brooklyn kids who love Japanese anime and have unusual music taste, who are into acting or willing to be different," White said.

Many students come in ill-prepared to do high school work. Most attend a short summer bridge for an introduction to school routines and an assessment of their reading and math skills. The pace of instruction can be slow, but understanding concepts takes precedence over plowing through the curriculum. Some students take a pre-algebra course. All 9th graders take a persuasive writing course which incorporates the main concepts in Common Core English studies and also lays the foundation for courses such as Art Criticism.

Gotham is housed on the top floor of PS 40. With no lockers, narrow hallways and facilities built for small children, it's not an ideal setting. However, the location, just a few blocks from the C subway train, is crucial for a school that takes lots of field trips.

The whole school goes on trips about every three weeks, including visits to the Bronx Zoo, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Natural History and to performances. All trips are tied into class lessons. A trip to see Calder's mobiles was part of a project to plan how to create movable sculptures with robotics.

Gotham is one of a handful of city schools that has students in the mayor's Coro Youth Leadership Program, advising the city on educational policy and learning to address problems in their school.

"One of the things we're most proud of is the tone in the school," said White. "Most students hug each other when they come in, they hug the safety agent." On the Learning Environment Survey, students say they feel safer inside the school than outside. The surrounding neighborhood is crime-ridden, White said. "We've worked very hard to make it a safe space in the neighborhood."

In response to incidents of fighting, the staff "gave students voice" in Town Hall meetings, White said, to help find a solution. "Students redefined what is acceptable. Now you hear students say, 'we don't fight in this school.'" A week of anti-bullying activities took place including Project Oddball, in which every person was invited to wear a bib displaying how they are odd. There is an active gay-straight alliance.

Special education: There are teacher support services and co-teaching classes. "We've had spectacular success using PBATs instead of Regents," White said.

After school: There is an after-school Robotics Club, led by an award-winning science teacher, anime, improv, a boys basketball team and an annual talent show. After school tutoring is available for all students.

College: Many graduates go to upstate SUNY colleges.

Admission: Citywide, limited unscreened. The school works best for students interested in careers in art and design. (Eliana Mascio/Pamela Wheaton, January 2013)

InsideStats

Click tabs above to see school stats

At a glance

Shared campus? Yes

This school shares the PS 40 building

Number of Students 242

Average Daily Attendance 82%

Uniforms? No

Metal detectors? No

Students at this school

Asian

  
1%

Black

  
81%

Hispanic

  
16%

White

  
1%

Free Lunch

  
100%

Special ed

  
24%

English Language Learners

  
1%

INCOMING STUDENTS' PROFICIENCY: 2.60 2.80 CITYWIDE AVERAGE


1 = Far below grade level 2 = Below grade level 3 = At grade level 4 = Above grade level

Safety & vibe

ARE CLASSES BIG?

Number of students in an average english class

19 24 CITYWIDE AVERAGE

DO STUDENTS LIKE THE TEACHERS?

How many students say their teachers inspire them to learn?

57% 64% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

DO TEACHERS LIKE THE PRINCIPAL?

How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?

75% 79% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

IS THIS SCHOOL SAFE?

How many students say they feel safe in hallways, bathrooms and locker rooms?

88% 83% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

 
 

How many teachers say order and discipline are maintained in the school?

90% 80% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

HOW IS
ATTENDANCE?

How Many Students are Chronically Absent?

51% 34% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Who graduates

Class of 2013

How many 2009 freshmen graduated within 4 years?

66% 66% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many 2007 freshmen graduated within 6 years?

62% 75% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Previous Years

How many 2008 freshmen graduated within 4 years?

61% 64% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many 2008 freshmen earned an advanced regents diploma within 4 years?

NA 11% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many 2006 freshmen graduated within 6 years?

NA 73% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many 2008 freshmen dropped out within 4 years?

13% 12% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

College prep

Does this school offer a college preparatory curriculum?

How many students took an AP or IB class and scored at least a "3" on the AP exam or a "4" on the IB exam?

0%

How Many Students took a College Course and Got a "C" or Higher?

12%

How many students passed a Regents exam for algebra 2, physics or chemistry?

NA

Are students ready for college?

How many 2009 freshmen graduated in four years with test scores high enough to enroll at CUNY without remedial help?

10% 27% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

SAT reading scores

395
414 CITYWIDE AVERAGE 496 NATIONWIDE AVERAGE

How many 2009 freshmen graduated in four years and enrolled in college?

43%

SAT math scores

359
425 CITYWIDE AVERAGE 514 NATIONWIDE AVERAGE

Is the guidance counseling helpful?

How many students say that this school provides helpful counseling on college or job-seeking?

78% 75% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Special ed & ELL

How well does this school serve students with disabilities?

How many special ed students starting school in 2008 graduated within 4 years?

29% 44% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many special ed students starting school in 2006 graduated within 6 years?

NA 53% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many students with disabilities spend most of the day with non-disabled peers?

98% 79% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many teachers say students with disabilities are included in all activities?

100% 88% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How well does this school serve English language learners?

How many English language learners starting school in 2008 graduated within 4 years?

38% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many English language learners starting school in 2006 graduated within 6 years?

57% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Programs and Admissions

School admission priorities:

  1. Priority to New York City residents who attend an information session
  2. Then to New York City residents

Source: High school directory

Gotham Professional Arts Academy

Limited Unscreened

Comprehensive program of academic and artistic education.

Academics

AP COURCES: N/A

Online: N/A

Language classes: Spanish

Source: High school directory

Sports/Clubs

EXTRACURRICULAR: Art Studio, Dance, Improv, Portfolio Workshop, Student Committee, The Wilson Reading Program; Tutoring services are provided as needed

BOYS PSAL SPORTS: N/A

GIRLS PSAL SPORTS: N/A

Other schools sports: N/A

Source: High school directory

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