The High School for Performing and Visual Arts (HSPVA)

HSPVA started in 1971 as a way for young artists and performers to study their disciplines and to prepare for the challenges of competitive arts programs at universities and colleges.  As one of the first magnet schools in HISD, HSPVA paved the way for other non-comprehensive high schools to emerge and to offer alternative high school experiences.    HSPVA prides itself on fostering creativity and independence while also emphasizing loyalty and responsibility to the community.

Editor’s Note posted on May 16, 2014 – An updated version of this profile is now online at our sister publication

The High School for Performing and Visual Arts (HSPVA)

4001 Stanford St., Houston, TX 77006                                                                          Dr. Scott Allen, Principal

713-942-1960                                                                                           Ms. Marian Mabry, Magnet Coordinator

Religious Affiliation

As a public school, HSPVA has no religious affiliation.  According to Houston Independent School District’s policy, every school has a moment of silence each day during which students can pray silently to themselves if they so choose.  Also, absences because of religious holidays do not count toward the student’s total number of absences.  However, the student is still responsible for the makeup work.

Location and Facilities

Currently residing in Montrose, HSPVA sits on what was once Montrose Elementary School.  HSPVA moved there in 1981 from its previous location at the corner of Austin St. and Holman St.  The current building is two stories and is broken into different sections separating the various arts.  HSPVA hosts a recital hall, a black box theatre, and a traditional theatre.  The school also includes a dance studio, an art studio, a jazz room, an orchestra room, and a choir room.   Numerous practice rooms are spread throughout the school, but students will practice in the hallways from time to time.

HSPVA is in the planning stages of moving the school to 1300 Capitol Street in downtown Houston. HISD voters approved a bond package in November 2012 that included about $80 million to relocate HSPVA to downtown to be closer to the Houston Theatre Arts District.  There is currently no concrete timeline for completion.


The HSPVA admissions process includes an application and an audition.  All students must fill out the application and submit the following information with it: 1) most recent report card 2) previous year’s final report card 3) copy of transcript/permanent record 4) two years of standardized test scores 5) copy of immunization record 6) proof of HISD residency.  For the Creative Writing fine art category, a portfolio with ten original pieces is due with the application.

For the audition, students can choose two of five possible categories: Creative Writing, Visual Arts, Theatre Arts, Instrumental and Vocal Music, and Dance.  Students must rank their choices.  The student will have an audition in his or her first choice and will only have an audition in his or her second choice if there are enough available audition times.  If the student makes it through the first audition, he or she will be called back for a second audition.  A callback is NOT an offer of admission.

Academic Tracks and Curriculum

HSPVA offers two tracks—On Track and AP.  Pre-AP classes lead to the 9 classes from the College Board’s Advanced Placement (AP) curriculum.    HSPVA’s AP courses include: AP English Language, AP English Literature, AP Calculus, AP Biology, AP Physics, AP U.S. History, AP Government, AP Economics, and AP Music Theory.

In order to graduate with a Recommended Diploma, students must complete 26 credits: English (4), Social Studies (4), Math (4), Science (4), Foreign Language (2), Athletics (1), Health (1/2), Speech (1/2), Fine Art (1), and Electives (5).

In order to graduate with a Distinguished Diploma, students must complete 26 credits: English (4), Social Studies (4), Math (4), Science (4), Foreign Language (3), Athletics (1), Health (1/2), Speech (1/2), Fine Art (1), and Electives (4). A Distinguished Diploma requires one more year of a foreign language.

Special Needs

If the student meets the admissions requirements for the HISD school, then the student with special needs will be accommodated.   If the parents already have documentation about the student’s special needs, the school will need a copy of that documentation.  After receiving the documentation, the school will set up an annual ARD meeting that the parents, the student, an administrator, a core subject teacher, a special education teacher or 504 representative, and an HISD advocate will attend to discuss the specific modifications necessary for the student and to create an individualized education plan (IEP) for the student.  Every teacher will receive a copy of the modifications for the student after the ARD meeting has determined them.

If the parents want to request modifications for their child, then the special education teacher will give the student’s teachers paperwork to document the student’s behavior and any modifications the teacher uses for the student.  After 6 weeks of documentation, the teachers will turn in the paperwork, and the special education teacher or 504 representative will call a meeting similar to an ARD meeting.  If the meeting determines that the student needs modifications, then the school will have documentation of the student’s special needs and will follow the same procedures as above.

Foreign Languages

HSPVA students must complete at least two years of a foreign language to graduate—three years if the student wishes to earn a Distinguished Diploma.  Instruction in two languages is offered—French and Spanish up to Level 4.


HSPVA students must audition and be admitted in one of five fine art areas in order to attend HSPVA: Creative Writing, Visual Arts, Theatre Arts, Instrumental and Vocal Music, and Dance.  Each area has its own requirements.  For the Creative Writing Department, the student will take classes in multiple genres, such as poetry, short stories, and drama.  The Visual Arts Department includes courses in both traditional art mediums, such as sculpture, as well as computer graphics, such as animation.  Not just focusing on acting, the Theatre Arts Department has classes in theatre production, directing, and playwriting.  While the Instrumental and Vocal Music Department focuses on a variety of instruments and singing, it also encompasses music literature, music criticism, and music theory classes.  The Dance Department offers courses in ballet, modern dance, tap, and jazz.


HSPVA has one computer lab with thirty computers; however, the only classes allowed to use it are the computer classes.  Other subjects may use the library, which holds sixteen desktop computers, or one of two laptop carts, each of which has thirty laptops with wireless internet.   HSPVA offers Business Communication Information Systems as a part of its career and technical education department, but a technology credit is no longer required to graduate.

Extracurricular Activities

HSPVA offers a number of different clubs and activities to its students on top of its vigorous fine arts program.  Some examples include: Anime Club, Red Cross Club, Literary Magazine, Radio PVA, Hootenanny, Business Professionals of America, Bite and Bike Club, Newspaper, Spanish Honor Society, and National Honor Society.  Since the clubs are student oriented, as students’ interests change, so do the clubs.


Since HSPVA’s fine arts curriculum requires so much after school time, HSPVA does not have any official sports teams.

Parent Involvement

The school’s PTO provides parent volunteers, makes meals for faculty, publishes a newsletter and student directory, and provides financial assistance to the school.

HSPVA Fast Facts

School Type Public, Magnet
Religious Affiliation None
UniformsDate Founded Dress Code1971
Grades Served 9 – 12
Enrollment 654
     Grade 12 151
     Grade 11 163
     Grade 10 172
     Grade 9 152
Student to Teacher Ratio 16:1
Faculty with Advanced Degrees (#/%) 30/61%
Minorities in Student Body 45%
Academic Tracks Offered On Track, AP
Advanced Placement Courses Offered 9
Languages Offered French, Spanish
Calendar (Semester / Trimester / Other) Semester
Interscholastic Sports Programs N/A
Graduating Seniors
National Merit Semi-Finalists (#/%) 5/1%
Average SAT Scores (Class of 2012) 1676
     Mathematics 545
     Critical Reading 576
     Writing 561
% Students Admitted to 4 Year University 80%
Public School Stats
Gifted and Talented Students 100%
Free & Reduced Lunch 16%
AYP (2006-2011) Met AYP
TEA Accountability (2006-2007) Recognized
TEA Accountability (2007-2013) Exemplary


Excerpted from General Academic’s publication, “Houston Private & Select Public Schools: Survey, Analysis, and Research, 3rd Edition.”