Brooklyn High School of the Arts

Grades 9-12
Staff Pick
Marquee homepage

What’s Special

Talented students; great support from arts organizations & doors open to the community

The Downside

Still working to make academics as engaging for students as the arts

Our Review

Brooklyn High School of the Arts offers solid academics and exciting opportunities for students to learn and perform outside their classrooms. Enrollment is growing, an ambitious administration is eager to bring the school on par with the city's premiere art high schools and is reaching out to the surrounding community with an open door policy. Attendance is good; the graduation rate is high; and the number of graduates considered "college ready" is higher than the city average. There is a well-deserved buzz about the school, now dubbed Brooklyn Arts.

The school takes advantage of its location in downtown Brooklyn to offer frequent field trips to the nearby Brooklyn Academy of Music and other theaters and museums. One group performed for the cast of the hit Broadway show Hamilton. Drama students were among only five schools chosen to participate in the Shubert Foundation High School Theatre Festival; the jazz band and choir have been award-winners in state competitions. A visual arts student's work was displayed at the Metropolitan Museum; her teacher was recognized as one of the five best art teachers in city schools.

Singer Tony Bennett's foundation Exploring the Arts offers paid student internships and donates professional lighting. The school also gets support from the Carnegie Hall Foundation, Cooper Union, and Parsons School of Design.

Students may major in vocal music, instrumental music, dance, drama, or visual arts. A musical theater program begins in 10th grade and, unlike some other arts high schools, students may take classes outside their majors. Most students take two arts classes a day.

Impressive student artwork lines the hallway gallery, contrasting with 1930s WPA murals in the handsome, historic building. A "gallery" class helps students prepare a portfolio to present for admission to arts schools such as Parsons.

Daniel Vecchiano, former assistant principal of the arts, became principal of the school in 2016 after longtime leader Margaret Lacey-Berman left for a position at the Department of Education headquarters. In response to students' complaints that their classes aren't challenging, he is working to strengthen academic offerings, while maintaining the school's strength in the arts.

At Vecchiano's initiative, Brooklyn Arts became a part of District 15, a district known for lively instruction in elementary and middle schools. Instead of reporting to the high school superintendent, he now reports to the District 15 superintendent. He and his team visit the district's high-performing middle schools, meet with their leaders, and invite their students to high school productions.

To increase student engagement, most classrooms are now set up for students to work collaboratively and take part in class discussions, particularly in English and history, Vecchiano said. He has upped the number of Advanced Placement courses the school offers.

Drama classes integrate lessons in history and current events: Students created a historical play based on videos they filmed and edited of family and neighbors discussing their memories of key events from the 1960s. After the 2016 election, students interviewed parents and others about why they voted and turned their responses into monologues.

Brooklyn Arts welcomes the surrounding community: The public is invited to free live-in-HD Met opera screenings in the elegant auditorium. There is a monthly lecture series; a Columbia professor talked about climate change, at another, a Broadway actress spoke about her career.

Students with high grade point averages and good attendance are part of a VIP program getting such perks as being allowed to go out to lunch.

SPECIAL EDUCATION: Brooklyn Arts offers SETTS and Integrated Co-Teaching classes. About 14 percent of the students receive special ed services.

COLLEGE ADMISSIONS: Graduates attend a range of arts schools such as Berklee College of Music, Parsons School of Design and the Fashion Institute of Technology. Others go to SUNYs, and private schools such as Sarah Lawrence College and Johnson & Wales University.

ADMISSIONS: Priority goes to Brooklyn residents but the school is open citywide and looking to attract students from all boroughs. An audition is requested but about 20 percent of students are admitted without auditioning, with a review of their arts grades and scores. Experience is not necessary. "If there's raw ability, we'll teach you," said Vecchiano, himself a working musician. (Pamela Wheaton, interviews, January 2017)

About the students

Enrollment
866
Asian
2.9%
Black
68.5%
Hispanic
21.8%
White
2.4%
Other
4.4%
Free or reduced priced lunch
74%
Students with disabilities
14%
English language learners
1%
Male
26%

About the school

Shared campus?
Yes
This school shares the building with MS 447
Uniforms required?
No
Metal detectors?
No
How crowded? (Full is 100%)
73%
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

Attendance

Average daily attendance
93%
85% Citywide Average
How many students are chronically absent?
25%
42% Citywide Average

Is this school safe?

How many teachers say order and discipline are maintained at this school?
73%
76% Citywide Average
How many students think bullying happens most or all of the time at this school?
15%
18% Citywide Average
How many students say they feel safe in the hallways, bathrooms and locker rooms?
83%
84% Citywide Average
How many students say most students treat each other with respect?
45%
56% Citywide Average

About the leadership

Years of principal experience at this school
8.0
5.3 Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?
71%
77% Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal has a clear vision for this school?
57%
83% Citywide Average
How many teachers trust the principal?
62%
78% Citywide Average

About the teachers

How many teachers have 3 or more years of experience teaching?
66%
73% Citywide Average
Teacher attendance
97%
97% Citywide Average
How many teachers say they would recommend this school to other families?
69%
79% Citywide Average
How many teachers think the staff collaborate to make this school run effectively?
67%
84% Citywide Average
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

Arts offerings

This school has 12 dedicated spaces for Dance, Music, Theater, Visual arts, and an Auditorium
This school has 9 licensed arts teachers in Dance, Music, Theater, and Visual arts

Engaging curriculum?

How many students say this school offers enough programs, classes and activities to keep them interested?
53%
71% Citywide Average
How many students say they are challenged in most or all of their classes?
39%
49% Citywide Average
How many students say the programs, classes and activities here encourage them to develop talent outside academics?
73%
70% Citywide Average
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

How many graduate?

How many students graduate in 4 years?
88%
77% Citywide Average
How many graduates earn Advanced Regents diplomas?
3%
11% Citywide Average
How many students drop out?
2%
10% Citywide Average

Are students prepared for college?

How many students graduate with test scores high enough to enroll at CUNY without remedial help?
44%
32% Citywide Average
How many students take a college-level course or earn a professional certificate?
31%
41% Citywide Average
How many graduate and enter college within 18 months?
73%
63% 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%
0% Citywide Average

How does this school serve students with disabilities?

This school offers self-contained classes
This school offers team teaching (ICT)
How many students say that students with disabilities are included in all activities?
66%
64% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say this school offers enough activities and services for their children's needs?
70%
87% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say this school works to achive the goals of their students' IEPs?
88%
90% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say they are satisfied with the IEP development process at this school?
78%
89% Citywide Average
How many special ed students graduate in 4 years?
62%
60% Citywide Average
For more information about our data sources, see About Our Data

Programs and Admissions

Art
Admissions Method: Audition
Program Description

Visual Art classes, including Foundational Art, Advanced Drawing, Painting, Sculpture and Senior Portfolio Preparation class.

Instrumental Music
Admissions Method: Audition
Program Description

Intensive program which will develop the student’s technique, creativity and expression while teaching the musical literature of the classical and popular genres of Western culture.

Dance
Admissions Method: Audition
Program Description

Technique classes in ballet, modern and jazz; two years of specialty classes in choreography, composition, and pointe.

Vocal Music
Admissions Method: Audition
Program Description

Intensive study of music theory, vocal production and performance; a repertoire that includes classical, jazz, gospel, and folk.

Drama
Admissions Method: Audition
Program Description

Students will have the opportunity to explore a vast spectrum of theater work, including acting, voice and diction, movement, theater history, set design, directing and creating original work

Academics

Language Courses

Chinese (Mandarin), French, Spanish

Advanced Placement (AP) courses

AP Biology, AP English, AP Human Geography, AP US History, AP World History

Sports

Boys PSAL teams

Basketball

Girls PSAL teams

Basketball, Volleyball

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

  • Give specific examples. Tell us why this school rocks (or doesn't).
  • Criticism is fine, but no profanity, racist or ethnic slurs, or personal attacks.
  • All users must comply with our Terms of Use.