New York’s Success Academy Charter schools have proven to be an excellent schooling option for New York’s city kids. They are the best in New York, considering recent rankings. Charles Kim, a New York education commentator, notes that Success academy’s kids from the city’s poorest backgrounds outperformed children from the city’s wealthiest suburbs schooling in other district schools. Kim notes that if the Success Academy Network of Schools were to be considered as a single school, it would be in the top 1 percent of the 3,500 schools in the city.
One of the Success academy’s secret to excellence is a well-designed curriculum. Success Academy puts a laser focus on the ‘what’ and ‘why’ elements of instruction. The school philosophy takes what children learn and how they learn it with utmost seriousness. In order to give learners the best, success schools have first aligned their curriculum with the state’s common core standards. After that, they have customized the various instruction areas to include what they deem the best content for learners. In English, for example, the school system runs its own English Language Arts (ELA) curriculum referred to as THINK literacy. THINK literacy is based on the balanced literacy concept. It includes guided reading, reading aloud, and shared text.
Success Academy Charter Schools also puts a lot of focus on how content is delivered. They take their teachers through a rigorous teacher preparation exercise at a teacher success academy. This ensures that there are no half-baked teachers in the schools. The Academy, also referred to as T-school, refines their skills in class management, teacher-child-interaction, and content delivery. Through challenging mock lessons, their teaching skills are evaluated and refined. In this Academy, teachers, and administrators gain core competencies that make them performers. Principals are, for example, taught to begin the day by shaking all children’s hands upon arrival. Teachers are also taught to refer to learners as scholars and not children. This strategy ensures that everyone starts on the right step and challenges are identified early.
Success Academy schools also put a lot of value on parent and community participation in the learning process. As executive Eva Moskowitz puts it, they expect their parents to be active members of the school community. Parents are provided with the opportunity to be class parents, field study chaperons, rights advocates, sports chaperones, or parent council members among other things. Also to ensure that the parents and the community remain totally committed to the school, there is constant real communication. Contacts and emails of every teacher are accessible by community members in the school for easier communication. The school also maintains a policy that any questions are to be answered within 24 hours.