Gotham Professional Arts Academy

Grades 9-12
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Location

265 Ralph Avenue
Brooklyn NY 11233
Bedford-Stuyvesant (District 16)
Trains: A to Utica Ave; C to Ralph Ave; J to Halsey St
Buses: B15, B25, B26, B45, B46, B46-SBS, B47, B65, B7

Contact

Phone
718-455-0746
Principal
Alexander White
Parent Coordinator
Jason Dowdy

What’s Special

Frequent school trips; small supportive atmosphere

The Downside

Shared space in elementary school building; high crime neighborhood

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)

About the students

Enrollment
203
Asian
0.0%
Black
80.3%
Hispanic
17.7%
White
1.0%
Other
1.0%
Free or reduced priced lunch
100%
Students with disabilities
29%
English language learners
3%
Male
43%

About the school

Shared campus?
Yes
This school shares the building with PS 40
Uniforms required?
No
Metal detectors?
No
How crowded? (Full is 100%)
62%
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

Attendance

Average daily attendance
76%
85% Citywide Average
How many students are chronically absent?
65%
42% Citywide Average

Is this school safe?

How many teachers say order and discipline are maintained at this school?
54%
77% Citywide Average
How many students think bullying happens most or all of the time at this school?
44%
37% Citywide Average
How many students say they feel safe in the hallways, bathrooms and locker rooms?
76%
85% Citywide Average
How many students say most students treat each other with respect?
38%
57% Citywide Average

About the leadership

Years of principal experience at this school
9.0
5.3 Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?
46%
80% Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal has a clear vision for this school?
54%
85% Citywide Average
How many teachers trust the principal?
46%
80% Citywide Average

About the teachers

How many teachers have 3 or more years of experience teaching?
86%
73% Citywide Average
Teacher attendance
97%
97% Citywide Average
How many teachers say they would recommend this school to other families?
39%
81% Citywide Average
How many teachers think the staff collaborate to make this school run effectively?
70%
86% Citywide Average
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

Arts offerings

This school has 3 dedicated spaces for Theater, Visual arts, and Media arts
This school has 3 licensed arts teacher in Visual arts (part-time), Music, and Visual arts

Engaging curriculum?

How many students say this school offers enough programs, classes and activities to keep them interested?
61%
72% Citywide Average
How many students say they are challenged in most or all of their classes?
47%
54% Citywide Average
How many students say the programs, classes and activities here encourage them to develop talent outside academics?
72%
71% 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?
64%
77% Citywide Average
How many graduates earn Advanced Regents diplomas?
0%
11% Citywide Average
How many students drop out?
12%
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?
8%
41% Citywide Average
How many graduate and enter college within 18 months?
57%
63% Citywide Average
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the 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?
56%
68% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say this school offers enough activities and services for their children's needs?
72%
87% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say this school works to achive the goals of their students' IEPs?
72%
91% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say they are satisfied with the IEP development process at this school?
72%
90% Citywide Average
How many special ed students graduate in 4 years?
50%
60% Citywide Average
For more information about our data sources, see About Our Data

Programs and Admissions

Gotham Professional Arts Academy
Admissions Method: Limited Unscreened
Program Description

Comprehensive program of academic and artistic education.

Academics

Language Courses

Spanish

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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