Urban Assembly Bronx Academy of Letters, The

Grades: 6-12
Staff Pick for Special Ed Noteworthy

Our Insights

What’s Special

Emphasis on research, writing and social justice

The Downside

Attendance has a ways to go

At the Urban Assembly Bronx Academy of Letters, students complete imaginative research projects on a wide range of topics such as climate change, environmental racism, obesity in poor communities and incarceration rates. They also learn outside the school: at cultural institutions, through field work for research projects, helping out in the community, and getting involved in social justice causes.

While the school has struggled in recent years, it seems to be on the upswing. The Department of Education praised the quality of its teaching staff, its imaginative curriculum, and the effective college placement office, according to school's most recent Quality Review.

Most students arrive with poor academic skills and attendance is below average. However, the school has thoughtful strategies to build skills, keep students engaged, and put them on the track for college. High school students we spoke with said they appreciated the level of support they received from teachers as well as the range of opportunities at the school, especially the chance to take several Advanced Placement classes or free courses at local colleges.

On our visit, students seemed relaxed and engaged; teachers address their students in conversational voices. In classes it's common to find students working in groups and teachers circulating the room to check in on students' progress.

Beginning in 6th grade students are expected to write a lot on a range of topics. Each year, students complete four research projects, called exhibitions, culminating with a written piece and an oral presentation before a panel of adults. For example, 7th-graders read scientific literature on climate change, and then visited PS 62 on Staten Island, a fully solar-powered school to learn about energy conservation.

Student activism is encouraged. Students interested in activism through art studied the work of Keith Haring and then created a Haring-style mural in the school. Others study gentrification in local communities, or visit nursing homes to create a Humans of New York-style scrapbook of the stories of longtime Bronx residents. High school students are involved in a group called IntegrateNYC4me, which advocates for school integration. Others work on LGBTQA rights. To combat high obesity rates in the surrounding neighborhood, the school provides the local community with fresh produce it grows in its organic garden.

The school has an advisory board, which raises money for student trips abroad, overnight trips to colleges, visits to cultural venues throughout the city and for the school's residency program, which hires professional actors, writers and musicians to work with students on independent projects.

A fulltime college counselor guides students through the college admissions process. SAT prep is offered for free at the school. Graduates typically attend two- or four-year CUNY colleges and some attend SUNY and private colleges.

Housed in the former IS 183 building, Bronx Academy of Letters has an awkward layout because the middle school and high school classrooms are located in separate parts of the building. In between is the Success Academy Bronx 1 Charter School, which opened in the building in 2011.

SPECIAL EDUCATION: In addition to SETSS there are ICT and self-contained classes.

ADMISSIONS: High school admissions is by lottery, with priority to continuing 8th-graders and then to Bronx students. District 7 students get preference for the middle school. Over 50 percent of 8th-graders stay for high school. (Laura Zingmond, March 2017; updated May 2019)

 

School Stats

Academics

School
Citywide
How many students graduate in 4 years?
 
84%
How many students with disabilities graduate in 4 years?
 
61%
How many English language learners graduate in 4 years?
 
83%
Average daily attendance
 
71%
How many students miss 18 or more days of school?
 
76%
From the 2020-21 School Quality Guide and 2020-21 NYC School Survey

Students

575
Number of students
611 Citywide Average

Race/Ethnicity


School
Citywide
Low-income students
 
94%
Students with disabilities
 
28%
Multilingual learners
 
15%
From the 2020-21 Demographic Snapshot

Safety & Vibe

School
Citywide
How many students were suspended?
 
1%
How many students say they feel safe in the hallways, bathrooms and locker rooms?
 
86%
How many students think bullying happens most or all of the time at this school?
 
32%
How many students say that some are bullied at their school because of their gender or sexual orientation?
 
18%
From the 2020-21 NYC School Survey and 2019-20 NY State Report Card

Faculty & Staff

School
Citywide
How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?
 
98%
1.2
Years of principal experience at this school
8 Citywide Average
63
Number of students for each guidance counselor or social worker
226 Citywide Average

Teachers’ Race/Ethnicity


How many teachers have 3 or more years of experience teaching?
 
86%
Are teachers effective?
From the 2020-21 NYC School Survey, 2020-21 School Quality Guide, 2019-20 NY State Report Card, 2021 Guidance Counselor Report and this school's most recent Quality Review Report

Advanced Courses

Which students have access to advanced courses at this school? Learn more

Calculus

Not offered in 2019-20

Computer Science

 
6%

Physics

 
5%

Advanced Foreign Language

 
9%

AP/IB Arts, English, History or Social Science

 
36%

AP/IB Math or Science

 
18%

Music

Not offered in 2019-20
From unpublished, anonymized data from the 2019-20 school year provided by the New York State Education Department, brought to you by

College Readiness

School
Citywide
How many students graduate with test scores high enough to enroll at CUNY without remedial help?
 
26%
How many students take a college-level course or earn a professional certificate?
 
71%
From the 2020-21 School Quality Guide
How many students filled out a FAFSA form by the end of their senior year?
 
69%
From the 2020-21 FAFSA data released by Federal Student Aid, brought you by
How many graduates of this school received Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) funding to attend a NYS college?
 
57%
How many of those TAP recipients made it through college? Learn more
From unpublished, anonymized student-level data for the class of 2014 provided by the New York State Higher Education Services Corporation (HESC) in coordination with the National Student Clearinghouse (NSC), brought to you by
For more information about our data sources, see About Our Data · More DOE statistics for this school

Programs & Admissions

From the 2021 High School Directory

Bronx Academy of Letters

Admissions Method: Open

Program Description:

Our school focuses on writing and social justice, giving all scholars a place to leverage their leadership and amplify their voice. Our extended school-day means there are additional opportunities for students to take high-interest classes and connect their interests and passions in new ways. At BAL, students do A LOT of writing, using their thinking to explain, process, and drive understanding in new areas!

Offerings

From the 2021 High School Directory

Language Courses

Arabic, Spanish

Advanced Placement (AP) courses

AP Statistics, AP Comparative Government and Politics, AP Environmental Science, AP English Literature and Composition, AP Computer Science Principles, AP Spanish Language and Culture, AP English Language and Composition

Boys PSAL teams

Baseball, Basketball, Soccer

Girls PSAL teams

Basketball, Flag Football, Softball, Volleyball

Coed PSAL teams

Stunt

Read about admissions, academics, and more at this school on NYCDOE’s MySchools

NYC Department of Education: MySchools

Contact & Location

Location

339 Morris Avenue
Bronx NY 10451

Trains: 2 Line to 149th St-Grand Concourse; 4 Line, 5 Line to 138th St-Grand Concourse; 6 Line to 3rd Ave-138th St

Buses: Bx1, Bx13, Bx15, Bx19, Bx2, Bx21, Bx32, Bx33, Bx41, Bx41-SBS


Contact

Principal: Amy Schless

Parent Coordinator: Susan Mcgovern

Website

Other Details

Shared campus? Yes

This school shares the building with Success Academy Bronx 1 Charter and a District 75 program, PS 168

Uniforms required? No
Metal detectors? No

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