Public schools in the United States are failing, especially in metropolitan areas. Even schools with an abundance of funding can produce students with below average proficiency in math, English and science. Parents who want their children to succeed sometimes have their hands tied. Not everyone can afford to put their children in private schools or take off work in order to homeschool. Charter schools offer an attractive alternative. Public charter schools such as the Success Academy in New York City offer rigorous curriculum that prepares students for success. Tuition is free, but a limited amount of students are accepted into the lottery based program. The students who attend are often disadvantaged, but have an opportunity to turn their lives and futures around through the Success Academy’s educational program.
Public charter school students often come from minority, low-income, single-parent families. Though the Success Academy’s students start out with academic disadvantages, they enjoy close to 100 percent proficiency rates in English and math. Public schools in the same area have proficiency scores in the single digits or low to mid teens. Success Academy employs intensive and challenging curriculum that requires students to work hard, strict rules, dress codes, and consequences for breaking the rules. Students are there to engage and learn, and won’t be allowed to coast through like they might in public schools.
Success Academy currently has 41 schools in New York City, educating 14,000 students in elementary school, middle school and high school. While Success Academy is granted more independence than zoned schools for curriculum, they are still accountable to the state for student performance. The teachers and leadership in the school work closely together to ensure that each student succeeds, and follows a track that will advantage them in the future. Unlike public schools, Success Academy doesn’t just teach material for tests, but teaches core knowledge and critical thinking skills. Success Academy is similar to traditional schools in that a variety of electives are available to students including sports, dance, chess, debate, and robotics.
Success Academy’s numbers show their success. In New York state they are ranked in the top 1% for math, the top 2% for English, and the top 5% for science. English language learners and students with disabilities also score among the top percentile for their group.