Success Academy Charter Schools is a fine example of innovation at work every day. They have become the largest charter school network in New York City. There is no charge for their curriculum and they are the highest performing charter system in the city. Admission is open to all New York State children including those with special needs and ESL students as well.
Success Academy operates 41 schools that are spread throughout Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx. A random lottery which is held each April determines admission. Recent statistics indicate that 76% of students are from low-income households and minority students are well represented at 93%. There is a significant percentage of ESL and special needs students as well.
Success Academy schools cover every grade from Elementary through High School. The schools are all intertwined into one system. The teaching approach is common throughout every academic level. They focus in on core knowledge, critical thinking, and in developing independent thinking.
The innovation of their core process merits discussion and analysis. At the heart of what Success Academy does, is a strong commitment to learning by doing. The time spent engaging in direct instruction, the traditional approach with the teacher at the front of the class, is limited to 80 minutes per day. With this approach, teachers are committed to making every minute count.
The rest of the time students are engaged in hands-on learning and small group instruction. They are allowed to do the hard work of thinking through problems. This results in great personal satisfaction at their accomplishments and instills a love of learning. This is practiced at every level of the Success Academy system and students thrive in it. They are committed to providing great opportunities for discovery, inquiry, and self-discovery. Learning, at its essence, becomes enjoyable for students and less about arduous exercises.
Success Academy has for eight consecutive years scored among the top schools in the state. In one recent test, 94% of eligible children were scored as proficient in Math. English and Science scores were very high as well. Every child is considered to be limitless in their potential at Success Academy; it is not a place where children fall through the cracks.