When it comes to New York-based Success Academy, one thing many people know about them is that their students tend to be very successful. So much so, most of their schools now test in the 90th percentile in a variety of subjects, and are out-testing students from much more affluent school districts.
How are Success Academy students so successful? What does the network do differently in their charter schools that other schools do not?
Success Academy students are taught to think — While many schools in New York teach by instruction, much of how Success Academy students learn is by doing.
That means, along with the 80 minutes or so of teacher instruction they get daily, Success Academy students also learn by collaboration with other students and by completing projects themselves.
The school places emphasis on reading, math and science, as well as on things like art, playing chess and learning about other cultures. All of this is taught to them in an environment that values critical thinking, and teaches students to think for themselves.
Parent involvement — Students are accepted into Success Academy schools every year via a lottery system. Any child can apply, and who is taken is then put down to chance, as this is seen as giving every child an equal opportunity for acceptance.
Once a child is accepted, the schools under Success Academy ask the parents to commit to being involved in their child’s education. That means they are tasked with ensuring homework gets done, that the child arrives at school on time every day, and that they read books to their children every night.
Parents are also expected to help with clubs, come to school functions and be willing to serve on things like the Parent Council or be a chaperone during a school field trip.
What all this parent involvement does is boost the child’s interest in learning, and give the parents even more investment in the school and in their child’s future.
This system is working so well, Success Academy now plans on expanding in New York City with more schools so they can reach even more children, and positively affect their education lives.