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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.

(Laura Zingmond, March 2017; updated May 2019)


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School Stats

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

Is this school safe and well-run?

From 2022-2023 NYC School Survey

How many students say they feel safe in the hallways, bathrooms and locker rooms?
80% Citywide Average
How many students think bullying happens most or all of the time at this school?
51% Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?
77% Citywide Average
How many teachers say they would recommend this school to other families?
0% Citywide Average

From the 2019-20 NY State Report Card

How many students were suspended?
1% Citywide Average

From this school's most recent Quality Review Report

Are teachers effective?

From 2023 End-of-year Attendance and Chronic Absenteeism Report

How many teachers have 3 or more years of experience teaching?
79% Citywide Average
Years of principal experience at this school

How do students perform academically?

From the New York State 2022-2023 Assessment Database

How many middle school students scored 3-4 on the state math exam?
42% Citywide Average
How many middle school students scored 3-4 on the state reading exam?
51% Citywide Average

From 2023 End-of-year Attendance and Chronic Absenteeism Report

How many 8th-graders earn high school credit?
60% Citywide Average
How many students graduate in 4 years?
91% Citywide Average

Who does this school serve?

From the 2022-23 Demographic Snapshot

Free or reduced priced lunch
Students with disabilities
English language learners

From 2023 End-of-year Attendance and Chronic Absenteeism Report

Average daily attendance
86% Citywide Average
How many students miss 18 or more days of school?
45% Citywide Average

From the 2020 School Directories

Uniforms required?

How does this school serve special populations?

From 2023 End-of-year Attendance and Chronic Absenteeism Report

How many students with disabilities graduate in 4 years?
84% Citywide Average
How many English language learners graduate in 4 years?
77% Citywide Average

From the New York State 2022-2023 Assessment Database

How many English language learners scored 3-4 on the state math exam?
7% Citywide Average
For more information about our data sources, see About Our Data · More DOE statistics for this school

Programs & Admissions

From the 2024 High School Directory

Bronx Academy of Letters (X27A)

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!

Urban Assembly School Bronx Academy of Letters ASD Horizon Program (07X551)

Admissions Method: ASD/ACES Program


From the 2024 High School Directory

Language Courses


Advanced Courses

Algebra II (Advanced Math), AP Computer Science Principles, AP English Language and Composition, AP English Literature and Composition, AP Environmental Science, AP Spanish Language and Culture, AP Statistics, AP United States History, Chemistry (Advanced Science), World Languages (Advanced World Languages)

Boys PSAL teams

Baseball, Basketball, Cross Country, Fencing, Outdoor Track, Table Tennis

Girls PSAL teams

Basketball, Cross Country, Fencing, Flag Football, Indoor Track, Outdoor Track, Softball, Table Tennis, Volleyball

Coed PSAL teams


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

NYC Department of Education: MySchools

Contact & Location


339 Morris Avenue
Bronx NY 10451

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

Buses: Bx1, Bx13, Bx15, Bx19, Bx2, Bx21, Bx32, Bx33, Bx41, Bx41-SBS, M125


Principal: Amy Schless

Parent Coordinator: Susan Mcgovern


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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