Renaissance School of the Arts

Grades 6-8
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What’s Special

Arts enrichment for all students; free set of school supplies for each student.

The Downside

Low overall academic achievement.

Our Review

Opened in 2008, Renaissance School of the Arts is a small middle school that delivers on its name offering students arts enrichment in all grades. Teachers and staff put a lot of effort into supporting the students, many of whom have special needs and struggle with personal circumstances outside of school.

Founding principal Tammy Pate-Spears believes in the transformative power of arts education. A graduate of LaGuardia High School and a former professional actress and singer, Pate-Spears toured Europe for several years with a musical theater company based in Germany. "Being exposed to the arts early on changed my life," said Spears, who left theater to become an English teacher. [In 2014 Pate-Spears handed over the leadership to Brian Bradley, who was formerly an assistant principal at Manhattan Center for Science and Math. The school moved to a different building which it shares with PS 155.]

In 6th grade, students rotate through classes in visual arts, dance, vocal instruction and instrumental music. Students in 7th and 8th grade choose one area to major in. There's an annual school musical and a chorus. The Lincoln Center Institute sponsors professional performances at the school; children learn to play the keyboard through a program with Music and the Brain. Teachers also do a nice job of integrating arts into academic lessons. When we visited, the hallways were lined with dioramas depicting Native American homes.

Many students struggle with academics. Teachers push their students to write a lot as well as think and work creatively. We saw lots of examples of student writing in classrooms and on bulletin boards. Students are taught Cornell Notes, a structured note-taking method. Teachers check binders and journals to make sure children are jotting down enough during class. In classrooms nothing is left to chance: tasks, standards, instructions and codes of conduct are displayed in detail on posters, bulletin boards, post-it notes and even on small whiteboards hanging outside the entrance to every room, where teachers write the agenda for the day. At the start of the school year, each student is given, free of charge, a full set of school supplies.

In classrooms, kids were calm and mostly engaged. Some were tired because of medication, according to a teacher. "It's tough for some kids, medication makes it hard for them to pay attention," he said. Teachers find ways to keep children on task. Students earn "spirit dollars" for achievement and good behavior that they redeem for rewards and special privileges. Every day before lunch, all students attend Target Ten: ten minutes of small group instruction that gives struggling learners extra help with skills and stronger students some enrichment.

Despite the staff's effort and care, the school struggles to make gains in achievement. Test scores remain stubbornly low.

Renaissance Arts occupies the fourth floor of a 1920's era building in East Harlem that was the former home of JHS 99. The school shares the building with the Academy for Environmental Science Secondary High School, Renaissance Charter High School for Innovation, and Manhattan East School for Arts and Academics. All schools share use of the auditorium, cafeteria, library and renovated outdoor track and yard. Renaissance Arts shares the fifth floor gymnasium with Manhattan East. Each school has its own lunch and recess times.

One downside to the school's facilities is the piercing change-of-class bell that's in desperate need of recalibration. Pate-Spears said she's working to have it fixed. [The bell has been fixed, the principal reports, in February 2012!]

Students must wear the school polo shirt, color-coded by grade. Spanish is the only foreign language taught.

Special education: A significant number of students have special needs. There are self-contained classes of 12 children and classes that follow the ICT (Integrated Collaborative Teaching) model.

Afterschool: The Stanley M. Isaacs Neighborhood Center runs activities such as dance, step and academic help every afternoon until 6 p.m. at the school. The Beacon Program sponsors afterschool activities that are open to students from all schools in the building as well as to community members. Achieve Now is a program that offers academic support for students who are over-age and under-credited for their grade.

Admissions: Priority to students in District 4. (Laura Zingmond, November, 2011.)

About the students

Enrollment
142
Asian
0.7%
Black
38.7%
Hispanic
57.8%
White
2.8%
Other
0.0%
Free or reduced priced lunch
83%
Students with disabilities
36%
English language learners
7%

About the school

Shared campus?
Yes
This school shares the building with PS 155
Uniforms required?
Yes
Metal detectors?
No
How crowded? (Full is 100%)
58%
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

Attendance

Average daily attendance
92%
93% Citywide Average
How many students are chronically absent?
27%
20% Citywide Average

Is this school safe?

How many teachers say order and discipline are maintained at this school?
64%
77% Citywide Average
How many students think bullying happens most or all of the time at this school?
31%
28% Citywide Average
How many students say they feel safe in the hallways, bathrooms and locker rooms?
78%
82% Citywide Average
How many students say most students treat each other with respect?
33%
43% Citywide Average

About the leadership

Years of principal experience at this school
1.8
6.0 Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?
84%
82% Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal has a clear vision for this school?
94%
88% Citywide Average
How many teachers trust the principal?
90%
82% Citywide Average

About the teachers

How many teachers have 3 or more years of experience teaching?
40%
72% Citywide Average
Teacher attendance
98%
96% Citywide Average
How many teachers say they would recommend this school to other families?
89%
81% Citywide Average
How many teachers think the staff collaborate to make this school run effectively?
95%
86% Citywide Average
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

Test scores

How many students scored 3-4 on the state math exam?
6%
27% Citywide Average
How many students scored 3-4 on the state ELA exam?
17%
30% Citywide Average

Arts offerings

This school has 2 dedicated spaces for Dance and an Auditorium
This school has 4 licensed arts teachers in Music (part-time), Visual arts (part-time), and Dance

Engaging curriculum?

How many students say this school offers enough programs, classes and activities to keep them interested?
81%
75% Citywide Average
How many students say they are challenged in most or all of their classes?
55%
56% Citywide Average
How many students say the programs, classes and activities here encourage them to develop talent outside academics?
84%
72% Citywide Average

Are students prepared for high school?

How many 8th graders earn high school credit?
11%
26% Citywide Average
How many graduates of this school pass all their classes in 9th grade?
74%
84% Citywide Average
What high schools do most graduates attend?
Art and Design HS and Urban Assembly School for the Performing Arts
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

How does this school serve English Language Learners?

How many English language learners score 3-4 on the State ELA exam?
10%
5% Citywide Average
How many former English language learners score 3-4 on the State ELA exam?
0%
14% Citywide Average

How does this school serve students with disabilities?

This school offers self-contained classes
This school offers team teaching (ICT)
Average math score for ICT students
1.77
1.9 Citywide Average
Average math score for self-contained students
1.82
2.1 Citywide Average
Average ELA score for ICT students
1.9
1.9 Citywide Average
Average ELA score for self-contained students
2.06
2.2 Citywide Average
Average math score for SETSS students
2.14
2.3 Citywide Average
Average ELA score for SETSS students
2.71
2.3 Citywide Average
How many students say that students with disabilities are included in all activities?
70%
67% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say this school offers enough activities and services for their children's needs?
88%
88% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say this school works to achive the goals of their students' IEPs?
91%
91% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say they are satisfied with the IEP development process at this school?
96%
90% Citywide Average
For more information about our data sources, see About Our Data
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