The New York-based charter school network Success Academy is one of the biggest successes in the country when it comes to test scores. That is because the students in its elementary and middle schools are now testing in the top 10 percent of the state, and their high school students are not that far behind.
How has Success Academy managed to get such high test scores in the just over 10 years since it was founded?
It is in the school’s teaching methods and in its strict discipline.
Success Academy teachers teach in a way that instills critical thinking in their students. Something that is essential when taking a test.
The school mandated from the very beginning that teacher instruction would be only for 80 minutes every day. Students working in groups and learning by themselves would be the rest of it.
What this has done has caused students to learn by hands-on doing, and by the involvement in demanding group projects. Education is also looked at as fun, as Success Academy believes if you make a child enjoy learning they will keep coming back for more.
Learning is not easy in a Success Academy school, however, as subjects studied are demanding. There is an emphasis on English, math and science, with subjects like history, geography, debate, sports, theater and art also getting a lot of attention.
Homework is assigned every day, and expected to be done, and if a student fails in class while working on a project, they are expected to figure out why that happened and do it again so it does not. Success Academy believes there is no such thing as failure, just an experience to learn from.
Discipline is also hugely important in all Success Academy schools.
Students are expected to arrive on time every day, and must be wearing clothing appropriate to a school environment.
Politeness and respect to both teachers and other students is demanded and, if a student does not follow rules, there are substantial consequences.
Parents too are expected to be involved in Success Academy students’ lives. That alone means students work harder in class, have excellent attendance and do well when taking state tests.