Albert Shanker School for Visual and Performing Arts
Queens NY 11106
Zone for the 2017-2018 school year. Call school to confirm.
Lots of new technology; broad range of after-school activities
High rate of suspensions; test scores are low
At IS 126, students benefit from lots of technology and a comprehensive after-school program. Several years ago the school struggled with gang activity, and teachers and staff have worked very hard to improve the school's tone and reputation. These days there are no gangs and IS 126 is a calmer, safer and cheerier place, though not without its challenges. Test scores are low and the suspension rate is high owing to a zero tolerance policy for student misconduct.
Longtime staff members we spoke with said that the school has changed dramatically and for the better. Nevertheless, misconduct occurs, and there were 248 suspensions issued during the 2010-11 school year. "We go strictly by the citywide discipline code," said Principal Alexander Anguiera. Since taking the helm in 2008, Aguilera installed security cameras throughout the building. He monitors screen shots of hallway, stairwells and common areas from a large screen installed outside the door to his office. "With the cameras, we no longer have any 'he said, she said' problems," Aguiera said.
The vibe we encountered when we visited the school seemed at odds with the stats. The scene at arrival time was calm. Students swiped their ID cards as they entered the building and headed to class. Hallways throughout the school were nicely decorated with colorful murals. Bulletin boards displayed creative and challenging student work. We didn't observe any student misconduct during our visit, though students were very loud and a bit boisterous during lunchtime.
Overall it was a subdued day when we visited. The state exams were a couple of weeks away, and some classes were reviewing topics covered early in the year or taking practice tests. Elsewhere we saw a lot of instances of students working independently on iPads and computers. To support struggling learners, teachers assign supplemental work through online programs including Achieve 3000 and Carnegie Learning. In science, students of all levels access online lessons through Science 360.
High achievers can take Regents algebra and earth science in the 8th grade and students interested in math can compete in the Math Olympiad. In Spanish, teachers break up students into small groups according to skill set. For instance, native Spanish speakers are given more challenging work than beginning learners.
Students in all grades take classes in technology and art.
A school-run prep course for the Specialized High School Exam is open to all students. In 2012, four gained admission to a specialized high school: two to Stuyvesant and two to Brooklyn Tech. There is no one high school that draws the majority of students, but Information Technology High School is popular and some students have been accepted into performing arts schools.
A citywide Alternative Learning Center (ALC) for students serving a superintendent suspension is housed in a wing of the bottom floor of the building. The ALC operates independent of IS 126 and has a separate entrance to the building.
Special education: There are self-contained and ICT (Integrated Collaborative Teaching) classes. English language learners get extra support during class and on a pull-out basis.
After school: The Jacob A. Riis Neighborhood Settlement House sponsors an onsite after-school program offering a range of academic, arts and sports activities. The school sponsors an animation program and fields several sports teams including basketball, soccer, flag football and cricket.
Admissions:IS 126 is a zoned school that also accepts district students from outside the zone to the arts program via a lottery, giving preference to those who have signed in at a school fair or open house. For the gifted program, students from the G&T program at PS 166 are given priority. Other district students are admitted to the G&T program based a combination of factors that make up a "composite score"the final 4th grade report card counts for 35 percent, state tests 35 percent, student performance indicators 20 percent and attendance ten percent. See the school's website for more information. (Laura Zingmond, March 2012; admissions updated January 2015)