The Urban Assembly Bronx Academy of Letters

Grades 6-12
Staff Pick
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What’s Special

Emphasis on research, writing and social justice

The Downside

Attendance and academic achievement have a ways to go

Our Review

At the Urban Assembly Bronx Academy of Letters, students complete imaginative research projects on a wide range of topics such as climate change, environmental racism, obesity in poor communities and incarceration rates. They also learn outside the school: at cultural institutions, through field work for research projects, helping out in the community, and getting involved in social justice causes.

While the school has struggled in recent years, it seems to be on the upswing. The Department of Education praised the quality of the school’s teaching staff, the imaginative curriculum, and the effective college placement office, according to the 2016 Quality Review. Ninety percent of teachers say Principal Brandon Cardet-Hernandez, who arrived in 2014, has a clear vision for the school, according to annual surveys.

Most students arrive with poor academic skills—and test scores in the middle school are very low. Attendance is below average. However, the school has thoughtful strategies to build basic skills, keep students engaged, and put them on the track for college. High school students we spoke with said they appreciated the level of support they received from teachers as well as the range of opportunities at the school, especially the chance to take several Advanced Placement classes or free courses at local colleges.

On our visit, students seemed relaxed and engaged; teachers address their students in conversational voices. In classes it’s common to find students working in groups and teachers circulating the room to check in on students’ progress.

Beginning in 6th grade students are expected to write a lot on a range of topics. Each year, students complete four research projects, called exhibitions, culminating with a written piece and an oral presentation before a panel of adults.  For example, 7th-graders read scientific literature on climate change, and then visited PS 62 on Staten Island, a fully solar-powered school to learn about energy conservation.

Student activism is encouraged. Students interested in activism through art studied the work of Keith Haring and then created a Haring-style mural in the school. Others study gentrification in local communities, or visit nursing homes to create a “Humans of New York”-style scrapbook of the stories of longtime Bronx residents. High school students are involved in a group called IntegrateNYC4me, which advocates for school integration. Others work on LGBTQA rights. To combat high obesity rates in the surrounding neighborhood, the school provides the local community with fresh produce it grows in it organic garden.

The school has an advisory board, which raises money for student trips abroad, overnight trips to colleges, visits to cultural venues throughout the city and for the school’s residency program, which hires professional actors, writers and musicians to work with students on independent projects.

A fulltime college counselor guides students through the college admissions process. SAT prep is offered for free at the school. Graduates typically attend two- or four-year CUNY colleges and some attend SUNY and private colleges.

Housed in the former IS 183 building, Bronx Academy of Letters has an awkward layout because the middle school and high school classrooms are located in separate parts of the building. In between is a Success Academy Bronx 1 Charter School, which opened in the building in 2011.

SPECIAL EDUCATION: In addition to SETSS there are ICT and self-contained classes.

ADMISSIONS: Lottery, with preference for students who attend an open house. District 7 students get preference for the middle school. Nearly 50 percent of 8th-graders stay for high school. (Laura Zingmond, March 2017)

 

About the students

Enrollment
592
Asian
0.7%
Black
30.9%
Hispanic
65.0%
White
3.0%
Other
0.3%
Free or reduced priced lunch
90%
Students with disabilities
30%
English language learners
13%

About the school

Shared campus?
Yes
This school shares the building with Success Academy Bronx 1 Charter and a District 75 program, PS 168
Uniforms required?
Yes
Metal detectors?
No
How crowded? (Full is 100%)
80%
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

Attendance

Average daily attendance
88%
90% Citywide Average
How many students are chronically absent?
35%
27% Citywide Average

Is this school safe?

How many teachers say order and discipline are maintained at this school?
87%
75% Citywide Average
How many students think bullying happens most or all of the time at this school?
52%
45% Citywide Average
How many students say they feel safe in the hallways, bathrooms and locker rooms?
80%
84% Citywide Average
How many students say most students treat each other with respect?
35%
49% Citywide Average

About the leadership

Years of principal experience at this school
1.9
5.8 Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?
93%
79% Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal has a clear vision for this school?
98%
85% Citywide Average
How many teachers trust the principal?
82%
78% Citywide Average

About the teachers

How many teachers have 3 or more years of experience teaching?
49%
70% Citywide Average
Teacher attendance
96%
97% Citywide Average
How many teachers say they would recommend this school to other families?
84%
82% Citywide Average
How many teachers think the staff collaborate to make this school run effectively?
95%
84% 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?
5%
30% Citywide Average
How many students scored 3-4 on the state ELA exam?
11%
35% Citywide Average

Arts offerings

This school has 3 dedicated spaces for Dance, Theater, and Visual arts
This school has 2 licensed arts teacher in Dance and Music

Engaging curriculum?

How many students say this school offers enough programs, classes and activities to keep them interested?
69%
68% Citywide Average
How many students say they are challenged in most or all of their classes?
52%
56% Citywide Average
How many students say the programs, classes and activities here encourage them to develop talent outside academics?
66%
69% Citywide Average

Are students prepared for high school?

Accelerated courses offered for high school credit
Living Environment
How many 8th graders earn high school credit?
8%
38% Citywide Average
How many graduates of this school pass all their classes in 9th grade?
80%
87% Citywide Average
What high schools do most graduates attend?
The Urban Assembly Bronx Academy of Letters
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

How many graduate?

How many students graduate in 4 years?
53%
83% Citywide Average
How many graduates earn Advanced Regents diplomas?
0%
13% Citywide Average
How many students drop out?
7%
4% Citywide Average

Are students prepared for college?

How many students graduate with test scores high enough to enroll at CUNY without remedial help?
27%
38% Citywide Average
How many students take a college-level course or earn a professional certificate?
16%
48% Citywide Average
How many graduate and enter college within 18 months?
61%
71% Citywide Average
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

How does this school serve English Language Learners?

How many former English language learners score 3-4 on the State ELA exam?
0%
7% Citywide Average
How many English language learners graduate in 4 years?
47%
65% 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
1.76
1.9 Citywide Average
Average math score for self-contained students
1.8
2.1 Citywide Average
Average ELA score for ICT students
1.76
1.9 Citywide Average
Average ELA score for self-contained students
2.0
2.2 Citywide Average
Average math score for SETSS students
1.99
2.2 Citywide Average
Average ELA score for SETSS students
2.06
2.3 Citywide Average
How many students say that students with disabilities are included in all activities?
61%
67% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say this school offers enough activities and services for their children's needs?
93%
86% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say this school works to achive the goals of their students' IEPs?
95%
90% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say they are satisfied with the IEP development process at this school?
93%
89% Citywide Average
How many special ed students graduate in 4 years?
33%
67% Citywide Average
For more information about our data sources, see About Our Data

Programs and Admissions

Bronx Academy of Letters
Admissions Method: Limited Unscreened
Program Description

Academics

Language Courses

Spanish

Advanced Placement (AP) courses

AP English, AP Environmental Science, AP Spanish, AP US Government and Politics

Sports

Boys PSAL teams

Basketball

Girls PSAL teams

Basketball

Read about admissions, academics, and more at this school on the NYCDOE’s School Finder
NYC Department of Education: School Finder

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