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Urban Assembly School for the Performing Arts

Grades: 9-12
509 West 129th Street
Manhattan NY 10027
Phone: 212-543-4460

Our Insights

What’s Special

A focus on performing arts

The Downside

Metal detectors, poor attendance

Founded in 2006 in the Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Education Complex, the Urban Assembly School for the Performing Arts (UASPA) offers dance, theater, theater tech and vocal music, in addition to typical high school academics. Students do not need to need to audition or have previous experience in the arts. They showcase their work in dance, vocal music and theater performances during the year.

They practice in a renovated basement called the performing arts wing that has fresh, bright paint on the walls and also houses a history classroom and staff offices, according to parent coordinator Elizabeth Whitaker. The dance studio has mirrors, a ballet barre and floors suitable for dancing.

Students at UASPA seem happy with the variety of ways they can develop talents in the arts outside of academics, and most say they feel academically challenged in their classes, according to NYC school surveys. They participate in assemblies, plays, concerts and jam sessions in the school’s auditorium and in a larger space at the Martin Luther King Jr. Educational Campus near Lincoln Center.

A partnership with College Bound has helped more students graduate on time and to find colleges that are affordable and a good fit.

Principal Meghan McMahon is a dancer who pursued a career in education and received her master's from Teachers College, Columbia University. She was a founding history teacher at the school and served as assistant principal for four years before becoming principal in 2015. Teachers give McMahon high marks on NYC school surveys; under her leadership, the climate at the school has slowly become safer and teachers stay longer. “I adore her,” says Whitaker. “She is compassionate. She listens. She cares. It’s not above her to get her hands dirty.”

A thorny problem the principal has not yet solved is attendance. It remains stalled at roughly 80 percent, and many students miss more than 18 days of school. When they miss lessons, teachers need to spend extra time helping them catch up.

Whitaker says that when parents go to work early, teens may sleep in and come to school late or not at all. Some deliver younger siblings to school first, which results in tardiness. Teachers and staff make phone calls or use an app to let parents know if their child is missing or late. Students win incentives like “dress down day” or a trip to Madame Tussauds wax museum for good attendance.  

Students meet in small advisory groups with a staff person every day. They discuss social and emotional issues that come up. The school’s yearly plan states that the goal is to bolster relationships in school as a way to improve academics and attendance. “We try to build a strong community,” says Whitaker. “We’re getting there.”

The building is shared with two middle schools, Success Academy Harlem North West Charter School and IS 286 Urban Assembly Academy for Future Leaders, and high school Academy for Social Action

Students must pass through a metal detector to enter the building.

ADMISSIONS: Students do not need to audition. (Lydie Raschka, web reports and interview, April 2018)    

Read more

School Stats

Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

Is this school safe and well-run?

From 2018-19 NYC School Survey

How many teachers say order and discipline are maintained at this school?
42%
75% Citywide Average
How many students say they feel safe in the hallways, bathrooms and locker rooms?
91%
86% Citywide Average
How many students think bullying happens most or all of the time at this school?
32%
37% Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?
84%
79% Citywide Average
How many teachers say they would recommend this school to other families?
62%
80% Citywide Average

From 2017-18 NY State Report Card

How many students were suspended?
2%
2% Citywide Average

From this school's most recent Quality Review Report

Are teachers effective?

From 2018-19 School Quality Guide

How many teachers have 3 or more years of experience teaching?
73%
76% Citywide Average
Years of principal experience at this school
5.0

How do students perform academically?

From 2018-19 School Quality Guide

How many students graduate in 4 years?
73%
82% Citywide Average
How many students graduate with test scores high enough to enroll at CUNY without remedial help?
31%
48% Citywide Average
How many students take a college-level course or earn a professional certificate?
37%
41% Citywide Average
How many graduates stay enrolled in college for at least 3 semesters?
66%
67% Citywide Average

Who does this school serve?

From 2018-19 Demographic Snapshot

Enrollment
387
Asian
1%
Black
48%
Hispanic
47%
White
1%
Other
3%
Free or reduced priced lunch
83%
Students with disabilities
24%
English language learners
7%

From 2018-19 School Quality Guide

Average daily attendance
83%
87% Citywide Average
How many students miss 18 or more days of school?
52%
38% Citywide Average

How does this school serve special populations?

From 2018-19 School Quality Guide

How many students with disabilities graduate in 4 years?
35%
66% Citywide Average


For more information about our data sources, see About Our Data · More DOE statistics for this school

Programs & Admissions

From the 2020 High School Directory

Urban Assembly School for the Performing Arts
Admissions Method: Ed. Opt.
Requirements:
  • We do not rank students for this program; all students will be selected randomly.

Academics

Language Courses

Spanish

Advanced Placement (AP) courses

AP English Language and Composition, AP English Literature and Composition, AP Psychology, AP Statistics, AP United States History

Sports

Boys PSAL teams

Basketball

Girls PSAL teams

Basketball, Softball

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

Contact & Location

Location

Harlem (District 5)
Trains: 1 Line to 125th St; B Line, C Line to 135th St
Buses: Bx15, Bx33, M10, M100, M101, M104, M11, M3, M4, M5, M60-SBS

Contact

Principal
Meghan Mcmahon
Parent Coordinator
Elizabeth Whitaker

Other Details

Shared campus?
Yes
This school shares the building with three other schools
Metal detectors?
Yes

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