Special Music School

Grades K-12
Staff Pick
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What’s Special

Rigorous musical training and strong academics, expanding to become k-12

The Downside

Many hours spent practicing doesn't leave much time for play-dates

Our Review

The Special Music School offers intense musical training along with rigorous academics. It's tough to get insome 400 children audition for just 15 kindergarten seatsbut for those who are admitted the opportunities are extraordinary.

The school has evolved from its original missionto replicate the strict focus of the music schools of the former Soviet Unioninto a school that balances musical training with academics, music theory, and music history, said Principal Katherine Banucci-Smith. The school's academic test scores are among the highest in the city.
Banucci-Smith, principal since 2010, graduated from Oberlin Conservatory, where she studied voice. As a child she played violin. She was formerly assistant principal at River East Elementary School.

The New York City Department of Education is responsible for the academic classes, while the Kaufman Music Center provides students with full music scholarships. The curriculum includes two private instrumental lessons each week and group classes in music theory, solfge (ear training), music history, and chorus. At the end of 5th grade all students must audition to be readmitted to the middle school, and only a very small percentage leave.

Originally serving grades K-8, the school has expanded to include grades 9-12. The high school is housed in the Martin Luther King Campus nearby. For admission in grades K-2, no previous musical training is necessary. However, parents are supposed to ensure that their children practice every day.

SPECIAL EDUCATION: There is a special education teacher who works with individuals, and small groups of children, who need extra assistance, to help them stay in the general education classroom.

ADMISSIONS: Open houses are offered four times a year. Testing for kindergarten begins in September. Children are asked to clap, sing, and move to music; they are assessed based on their pitch, sense of rhythm, and musical memory. The school occasionally has seats for children in upper grades. For 9th grade, preference is given to continuing 8th-graders and then to the rest of New York City by audition, grades, test scores and an interview. Applications are available online at www.kaufman-center.org/sms or by calling the school. (Lydie Raschka, web reports and school data, September 2016)

About the students

Enrollment
314
Asian
15.9%
Black
13.7%
Hispanic
13.4%
White
42.4%
Other
14.7%
Free or reduced priced lunch
18%
Students with disabilities
13%
English language learners
1%

About the school

Shared campus?
No
This school is in its own building.
Uniforms required?
No
Metal detectors?
No
How crowded? (Full is 100%)
51%
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

Attendance

Average daily attendance
96%
93% Citywide Average
How many students are chronically absent?
9%
15% Citywide Average

Is this school safe?

How many teachers say order and discipline are maintained at this school?
95%
77% Citywide Average
How many students think bullying happens most or all of the time at this school?
20%
39% Citywide Average
How many students say they feel safe in the hallways, bathrooms and locker rooms?
95%
88% Citywide Average
How many teachers say their students are safe outside around this school?
100%
83% Citywide Average
How many students say most students treat each other with respect?
87%
58% Citywide Average

About the leadership

Years of principal experience at this school
6.2
5.1 Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?
94%
83% Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal has a clear vision for this school?
100%
89% Citywide Average
How many teachers trust the principal?
100%
84% Citywide Average

About the teachers

How many teachers have 3 or more years of experience teaching?
41%
64% Citywide Average
Teacher attendance
99%
98% Citywide Average
How many teachers say they would recommend this school to other families?
100%
85% Citywide Average
How many teachers think the staff collaborate to make this school run effectively?
100%
88% Citywide Average

Do parents like the school?

How many parents responded to the school survey?
66%
67% Citywide Average
How many parents say they are invited to visit classrooms?
62%
74% Citywide Average
How many parents say this school offers enough courses, activities and services to keep their children interested in school?
87%
85% 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?
100%
58% Citywide Average
How many students scored 3-4 on the state ELA exam?
100%
56% Citywide Average

Arts offerings

This school has 24 dedicated spaces for Dance, Music, and Theater
This school has 1 licensed art teacher in Visual arts (part-time)

Engaging curriculum?

How many students say this school offers enough programs, classes and activities to keep them interested?
85%
72% Citywide Average
How many students say they are challenged in most or all of their classes?
59%
54% Citywide Average
How many students say the programs, classes and activities here encourage them to develop talent outside academics?
93%
73% Citywide Average

Are students prepared for high school?

Accelerated courses offered for high school credit
Algebra I
How many 8th graders earn high school credit?
94%
46% Citywide Average
What high schools do most graduates attend?
Fiorello H. LaGuardia HS of Music & Art and Performing Arts
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

How many graduate?

Are students prepared for college?

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)
Average math score for SETSS students
3.46
2.7 Citywide Average
Average ELA score for SETSS students
3.29
2.5 Citywide Average
How many students say that students with disabilities are included in all activities?
76%
67% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say this school offers enough activities and services for their children's needs?
91%
86% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say this school works to achive the goals of their students' IEPs?
86%
90% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say they are satisfied with the IEP development process at this school?
77%
88% Citywide Average
For more information about our data sources, see About Our Data

Programs and Admissions

Voice, Instrument, and Composition
Admissions Method: Audition
Program Description

Special Music School offers students the opportunity to major in Instrumental Music, Voice, or Composition. Students receive approximately 10 hours of music instruction throughout the week. Professional musicians lead large ensembles, chamber groups, and private study. Students work with visiting artists through master classes. Upperclassmen choose from a variety of interest-based electives including Orchestral Conducting, Entrepreneurship, Recording and Production, Jazz History and Theory.

Academics

Language Courses

German, Spanish

Sports

Boys PSAL teams

Badminton, Baseball, Basketball, Bowling, Cross Country, Handball, Outdoor Track, Soccer, Volleyball, Wrestling

Girls PSAL teams

Badminton, Basketball, Bowling, Flag Football, Handball, Indoor Track, Soccer, Softball, Volleyball, Wrestling

Coed PSAL teams

Double Dutch

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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Location

122 Amsterdam Avenue
Manhattan NY 10023
Upper West Side (District 3)
Trains: 1 to 66th St-Lincoln Center; 2, 3, B, C to 72nd St; A, D to 59th St-Columbus Circle
Buses: BxM2, M10, M104, M11, M20, M5, M57, M66, M7, M72

Contact

Phone
212-501-3318
Principal
Katherine Banucci-Smith
Parent Coordinator
Lisa Stump