Success Academy Charter Schools

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For other schools with similar names, see Success Academy (disambiguation).
Success Academy Charter Schools
Success Academy Charter Schools logo.png
95 Pine Street, New York, N.Y. 10005 (Main office)
Coordinates 40°42′16.3″N 74°00′22.5″W / 40.704528°N 74.006250°W / 40.704528; -74.006250Coordinates: 40°42′16.3″N 74°00′22.5″W / 40.704528°N 74.006250°W / 40.704528; -74.006250
School type Public charter with public & private funds
Founder Eva S. Moskowitz et al.
Status Open
Authorizer Charter Schools Institute, State University of New York
(most schools)
Chief Executive Officer Eva Moskowitz
Staff Over 1,000 (all positions) in 2014
Grades K–9
Gender Both
Language English (U.S.)
Schedule Mid-August to mid-June
Campus type Urban
Color(s) Orange and blue (logo and uniforms)
Athletics Soccer, Track & Field, Cross Country, Basketball
Tuition Free
Communities served various New York City neighborhoods

Success Academy Charter Schools, originally Harlem Success Academy, is a charter school operator of 34 public charter schools in New York City. Eva Moskowitz, a former city council member for the Upper East Side, is its founder.[1][2]


Founder and CEO Eva Moskowitz opened the first Success school, the Harlem Success Academy, in 2006. She subsequently opened more schools in Harlem, and then schools in other New York City neighborhoods. As of mid 2015 the network has 9,000 students in schools in every NYC borough except Staten Island.[3]

In February 2014, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio decided to stop the city's former policy of providing free space in public school buildings to private charter schools, and to evict those schools, including three Success Academy schools already in those buildings.[4] The decision was reversed in April after New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo stepped into the controversy. The city ended up finding space for three Success Academy schools.[5]

For the 2014–15 school year there were over 22,000 applications for 2,688 slots. Two documentary films, The Lottery and Waiting for "Superman", record the intense desire of parents to enroll their children in Success Academy and charter schools like Success Academy.[3]


Teaching methods

Discipline, social pressure, positive reinforcement, and suspension are applied to the students. Parents are called in if a student has problems or is disruptive. There is a remedial program, called "effort academy", which is used freely. Ample school supplies are provided.[3]

Teachers are monitored closely and rewarded for better student performance. Teachers whose students perform poorly may be demoted to teaching assistant or removed from the classroom and limited to tutoring if their performance does not improve.[3]


Measured by standardized test scores, the mostly black and Hispanic students at Success Academies outscore contemporaries in both urban public schools and wealthy suburban schools in the New York City area. In New York City, 29% percent of public school students passed state reading tests, and 35% passed math tests. At Success schools, corresponding percentages were 64% and 94%.[3]

Halley Potter, who studies charter schools at the Century Foundation, said that the conclusions that can be made from tests are limited. "Success Academy’s strong test scores tell us that they have a strong model for producing good test scores", she said.[3]

The schools put great effort into teaching and motivating students to take tests, including giving prizes such as remote-controlled cars, and publicly ranking how well each student does on the practice tests. Students have sometimes wet their pants during practice tests; sources differ over whether this is due to students not being allowed to leave for bathroom breaks during practice tests, or students not wanting to leave because it would mean losing time.[3]

No new students above the fourth grade are accepted, because, according to Success Academy, public school students are too far behind to catch up to Success Academy students.[3]

Success Academy Harlem 1
Mother Cabrini High School, which closed in 2014, was one of the facilities that the city arranged for Success Academy to move into. It is now Success Academy Washington Heights

Teacher experience

Teaching is heavily scrutinized, and teachers are pressured to be very demanding of students. Teachers work 11-hour days, which is almost impossible for teachers with children of their own. According to Moskowitz some teachers and a few principals are allowed to work part-time. In 2013–14, three Success Academy schools had teacher turnover rates of over 50%. The schools' officials counter that those figures are inflated by teachers who move from one Success school to another or to non-teaching positions, and that according to their numbers the total teacher attrition rate for the entire Success network between June 2013 and June 2014 was 17%.[3]

As of 2015 the schools were not unionized. Many of the teachers are young recent graduates. Some teachers have quit because they felt that they were treating students too harshly. There is rapid promotion for teachers whose students' performance excels.[3]

Suspension-rate controversy

Some parents of special-needs students at Success Academy schools have complained of overly strict disciplinary policies which have resulted in high rates of suspension and attempts to pressure the parents to transfer their special-needs children out of the schools. State records and interviews with two dozen parents indicate that the schools failed at times to adhere to federal and state laws in disciplining special-education students.[6]

Statistics gathered by the New York State Education Department show much higher rates of suspension at most Success Academy schools than at neighborhood public schools. School spokesmen have denied improper treatment of any student, and founder Eva Moskowitz has defended school practices as promoting "order and civility in the classroom".[6]


External links