The biggest and highest performing charter school, Success Academy, was founded in 2006. Anyone is eligible to attend the academy and students are chosen to attend based on a random lottery system. There are currently 41 Success Academy locations, those locations serve roughly 14,000 students. When looking at all of the schools, 76% of the children who attend are from low-income families, 8.5% are English Language Learners, 15% are current of former special need students, and 93% of the students are of color. The beautiful thing about Success Academy, being a charter school, is that it is able to operate with a greater amount of independence than other public schools. Having the ability to be more independent allows Success Academy to offer a different approach for elementary, middle and high school.
Success Academy prides itself on their students being successful at school, college and life in general. Their elementary program is designed to make the students love to learn and want to learn more. They read fiction and non-fiction, theoretically solve math problems, comprehend scientific inquiry, find and use their own voice when answering questions, and, among others, collaborate on projects with other students. Success academy believes that students learn best when they are doing, which is why the teacher only stands in front of the classroom lecturing for 80 minutes a day. Other than that students work in small groups and have hands-on learning.
The middle school students have college-ready standards which focus’ on critical thinking, subject mastery, and inquiry-based learning. Success Academy offers middle school students a variety of elective classes they can take, these classes include: debate, dance, musical theater, photography, sports and entrepreneurship. Each day the students in middle school have classes in math, science, elective, history, sports, language arts, chess and computer science.
The curriculum for high school students at Success Academy focus’ on critical thinking, public speaking, academic writing, and problem solving. Students are prepare to attend and graduate from 4-year colleges and universities. The school also offers various programs, like internships and international travel, to help develop their various interests. The rigorous high school program requires hard-work, self-discipline, and persistence. Students are also guided through the college application process.
Success Academy’s approach to teaching at all grade levels has earned them the best scores in the state of New York. Out of the 41 Success Academy schools, 5 of them are in the top 5 for math, and two of them are in the top 5 for English. There was an estimated 4,230 students who were able to participate in testing; of those students 94% were proficient in math and 82% in ELA. Students who were English Language Learners and students with disabilities surpassed students both statewide and students in their own school.