Success Academy, a New York City-based charter school network, is known throughout the state for running some of the best public schools in the city.
Success Academy students are almost all African American or Hispanic, and most come from low-income backgrounds. Yet many have achieved some of the highest scores possible in state-wide tests, and few of the network’s students seem to have the problems typical public school students do.
Why is this, and what is it about the way Success Academy provides an education that has helped the network avoid the public school problems most other New York schools are battling?
Three things have contributed to Success Academy’s success.
Discipline — Success Academy students are given a strict set of guidelines when it comes to expected behavior at the school, and anyone that refuses to adhere to them will suffer severe consequences.
This discipline includes punctuality, wearing appropriate clothing, being polite to teachers and fellow students, doing the work assigned to them and, if they feel, trying again.
These simple guidelines are turning out students that work hard, enjoy to learn and do not rebel against authority.
The approach to learning — The second thing that has contributed to Success Academy’s lack of problems is the way they help their students learn.
The Success Academy environment is one where learning is looked at as fun and exciting, where students teach themselves by working on group projects and questioning why things are the way they are.
Critical thinking is valued, as is problem solving as the school believes these give students the tools they will need to succeed in life.
Projects students work on are fun and interesting and include things like creating computer games by learning how to program, or dissecting a squid.
Parental involvement — Finally, Success Academy mandates that parents be involved with the daily education of their children. Whether that is bringing them to school, helping with homework, going on field trips or working on a school play.
That is because Success Academy knows the more a parent is involved with their child’s education, the more likely that child is going to do well and the more likely they will love to learn.