The Urban Assembly Bronx Academy of Letters

An Insideschools pick
339 MORRIS AVENUE
BRONX NY 10451 Map
Phone: (718) 401-4891
Website: Click here
Admissions: District 7 limited unscreened; HS: priority to continuing 8th graders
Principal: BRANDON CARDET-HERNANDEZ
Neighborhood: South Bronx
District:7
Grade range: 6-12
Parent Coordinator: LISA MONGE
Humanities & Interdisciplinary
Wheelchair Accessible

Buses: BX1, BX15, BX17, BX19, BX2, BX21, BX32, BX33, BX4, BX41, BX55

What's special:

Chance to travel overseas, terrific college office

The downside:

Awkwardly shared building

InsideSchools Review

Our review:

 At the Bronx Academy of Letters, students have a chance to visit foreign countries, study in California or New Hampshire, and take part in seminars with a professional writer—called a “writer in residence.” Students plant vegetables in a garden and sell them at a farm stand.

They complete imaginative projects on a wide range of topics such as obesity, teen suicide, incarceration rates, tornados or world religions. The projects, called exhibitions, culminate in oral presentations to a panel of adults each spring.

“It helps us practice speaking in front of judges,” a senior girl said.

Founded as a high school in 2003, the school added middle school grades in 2007 and now serves children in grades 6 to 12.

The school has an advisory board which raises money for a wide range of enrichment activities. Students have gone to Durban and Capetown, South Africa, and Bogota, Colombia, for several weeks. Some have attended summer school at Philip Exeter Academy in Exeter, NH, a private boarding school. Others have taken summer courses at the University of California at Berkeley.

The focus of the curriculum is writing: 9th graders have two English classes—one in literature and one in writing—to make sure that they have a good foundation. A writer-in-residence works at the school part-time and leads a seminar for students. The school also offers advanced math and science classes, including AP Calculus and AP Environmental Science.

The school has a high graduation rate and a good record sending students to college. It has a full-time college counselor. About half the graduates go to two-year colleges, and half go to four-year-colleges, said college counselor Kate Irving. Top students have been admitted to Colby College, University of Rochester, and Renssellaer Polytechnic Institute.

Housed in the former IS 183 building, Bronx Academy of Letters has undergone turmoil in recent years. The founding principal, Joan Sullivan, left mid-year in 2009 and was replaced by assistant principal Anna Hall. Hall, who publicly criticized the notion of teacher tenure and who got low marks from teachers on the Learning Environment Survey, left in 2012 to take a job at StudentsFirstNY, the state’s spinoff of Michelle Rhee’s national education advocacy group. She was replaced by Jeffrey Garrett, a former teacher at the school and graduate of the Harvard School of Education.

The disruption caused by change in principals was compounded by a battle over space with a charter school, Success Academy Bronx 1, which moved into the building in 2011.

The middle school classrooms of Bronx Academy of Letters were forced to move to make way for Success Academy. The middle school classrooms had been located directly above the high school. Although the layout in the cinder block building was awkward, the classrooms were at least next to each other and the school had a sense of its own space within the larger building.

When the charter school moved in, the middle school classrooms of Bronx Academy of Letters were moved the other side of the building, which is also shared with a District 75 school for disabled children and another middle school, MS 203 (which is closing because of poor performance). The fact that the middle school and high school classrooms are no longer connected has made the awkward layout of the building even more awkward, Garrett said.

 “There was a lot of parent anger and outrage,” he said.

Special education: The school has a large range of special education services, including counseling, speech, occupational therapy, physical therapy, self-contained classes and team-teaching classes.

Admissions: District 7 choice for middle school. Limited unscreened for high school. About half the 8th graders stay on for high school. (Clara Hemphill, October 2013)

 

Middle InsideStats

Click tabs above to see school stats

At a glance

Shared campus? Yes

This school shares the building with Success Academy Bronx 1 Charter School and MS 203

Number of Students 584

Average Daily Attendance 90%

Uniforms? Yes

Students at this school

Asian

  
1%

Black

  
29%

Hispanic

  
69%

White

  
1%

Free Lunch

  
91%

Special ed

  
22%

English Language Learners

  
13%

INCOMING STUDENTS' PROFICIENCY: 2.58 2.80 CITYWIDE AVERAGE


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

Safety & vibe

DO STUDENTS LIKE THE SCHOOL?

How many students say their teachers inspire them to learn?

64% 64% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many students say this school offers enough programs to keep them interested?

78% 78% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

ARE KIDS NICE?

How many students complain about bullying?

75% 71% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many students say students at their school respect one another?

63% 57% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

64% 77% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

DO TEACHERS LIKE THE SCHOOL?

How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?

78% 80% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many teachers would recommend this school to other parents?

64% 79% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

ARE CLASSES BIG?

Number of students in an average english class

21 26 CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many students are chronically absent?

31% 24% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Academics

Percent of students who scored 3 or 4 on the 2014 math exam

4% 25% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Percent of students who scored 3 or 4 on the 2014 ela exam

4% 22% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Percent of students who scored 3 or 4 on the 2014 science exam

39% 53% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

HS Prep

How many 8th graders pass high school regents exams?

Percent of 8th graders who take and pass the algebra regents:

4% 21% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Percent of 8th graders who take and pass a science regents:

0% 14% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How do graduates do in 9th grade?

Percent who pass all their classes freshman year:

83% 85% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Special ed & ELL

How well does this school serve students with disabilities?

Percent of self-contained students who scored 3 or 4 on the 2014 math exam:

3% 2% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Percent of self-contained students who scored 3 or 4 on the 2014 ELA exam:

3% 1% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Percent of ICT students who scored 3 or 4 on the 2014 math exam:

0% 5% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Percent of ICT students who scored 3 or 4 on the 2014 ELA exam:

8% 4% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Percent of SETSS students who scored 3 or 4 on the 2014 math exam:

0% 7% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Percent of SETSS students who scored 3 or 4 on the 2014 ELA exam:

0% 6% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How well does this school serve English language learners?

Percent of ell students who scored 3 or 4 on the 2014 ELA exam:

0% 2% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Percent of former ell students who scored 3 or 4 on the 2014 ELA exam:

0% 13% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

HS InsideStats

Click tabs above to see school stats

At a glance

Shared campus? Yes

This school shares the building with Success Academy Bronx 1 Charter School and MS 203

Number of Students 584

Average Daily Attendance 90%

Uniforms? Yes

Metal detectors? No

Students at this school

Asian

  
1%

Black

  
29%

Hispanic

  
69%

White

  
1%

Free Lunch

  
91%

Special ed

  
22%

English Language Learners

  
13%

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

Middle school students reading at grade level:

5% 25% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Middle school students doing math at grade level:

4% 24% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Safety & vibe

ARE CLASSES BIG?

Number of students in an average english class

22 25 CITYWIDE AVERAGE

DO STUDENTS LIKE THE TEACHERS?

How many students say their teachers inspire them to learn?

64% 63% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

DO TEACHERS LIKE THE PRINCIPAL?

How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?

78% 78% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

IS THIS SCHOOL SAFE?

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

79% 82% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

 
 

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

64% 77% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

HOW IS
ATTENDANCE?

How Many Students are Chronically Absent?

31% 38% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Who graduates

Class of 2013

How many 2009 freshmen graduated within 4 years?

87% 70% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many 2007 freshmen graduated within 6 years?

88% 78% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Previous Years

How many 2008 freshmen graduated within 4 years?

78% 66% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

2% 12% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many 2006 freshmen graduated within 6 years?

83% 75% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many 2008 freshmen dropped out within 4 years?

6% 11% 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?

20%

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

7%

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

7%

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?

17% 27% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

SAT reading scores

409
414 CITYWIDE AVERAGE 496 NATIONWIDE AVERAGE

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

73%

SAT math scores

402
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?

77% 76% 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?

36% 45% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

43% 53% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

55% 68% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

52% 89% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How well does this school serve English language learners?

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

40% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

58% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Programs and Admissions

School admission priorities:

  1. Priority to continuing 8th graders
  2. Then to Bronx students or residents who attend an information session
  3. Then to New York City residents who attend an information session
  4. Then to Bronx students or residents
  5. Then to New York City residents

Source: High school directory

Bronx Academy of Letters

Limited Unscreened

Academics

AP COURSES: English Language and Composition, English Literature and Composition, Environmental Science, Government and Politics: United States, United States History

Online: N/A

Language classes: Spanish

Source: High school directory

Sports/Clubs

EXTRACURRICULAR: Anime, Art, Beats Production, Book, Book vs. Movie, Cheerleading, Chess, Dance, Debate Team, Drama, Gay-Straight Alliance, Internship Opportunities, Iron Chef, Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, Junior Statesmen of America, Literary Journal, Math, Open Mics, Photography/Film, Poetry Slams, Readings, Running, School Newspaper, Student and Teacher-Recruitment Committees, Student Government, Technology, Yearbook.

BOYS PSAL SPORTS: Baseball, Basketball

GIRLS PSAL SPORTS: Basketball, Lacrosse

Other schools sports: Boys and Girls Basketball, Baseball, Girls Lacrosse, Ballet, Advanced Dance

Source: High school directory

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