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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
Success Academy Harlem 1 jeh.jpg
Success Academy Harlem 1, one of several schools run by Success Academy
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 charter schools, which are publicly funded but privately run, 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]

In 2015-16, the school became embroiled in a conflict with New York City's Department of Education concerning its Pre-Kindergarten program. The city wanted the Academy to sign the contract it requires of all pre-K providers in order to receive city funding for the program, but Success Academy refused to do so, taking the position that since its schools were chartered by the University of the State of New York – the overarching institution for New York State's Department of Education – it, and not the city, had the legal power of oversight, and not the city. Therefore, Success Academy was not required to sign the city's contract, and, indeed, was legally forbidden to do so. It was supported in this position by the New York City Charter School Center, even though all 13 other charter schools in the city which provide Pre-K had signed the contract. As a result of this disagreement, the city has not paid Success Academy for its Pre-K program – which involves 72 children – and Success has threatened to shut it down. The amount of money involved is $720,000 - $780,000.[6]


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

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]

Harlem Success Academy Charter School 3 was awarded a National Blue Ribbon by the U.S. Department of Education in 2015.[7]

Teacher experience

According to a 2015 report in The New York Times, teaching is heavily scrutinized, and teachers are pressured to be very demanding of students. Most teacher are recent college graduates, and 11-hour work-days are the norm. 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% (compared to 6.1% in New York's public school system). The schools' officials have said that the figure is inflated by teachers who had moved from one Success school to another or to non-teaching positions, and that according to their numbers the total teacher attrition rate within the Success network was 17%.[3]

Most of the former teachers interviewed by the Times said they quit because they disagreed with Success' punitive approach to students, and not because of the heavy workload.[3]

In 2014, an assistant teacher made a video recording of a colleague publicly scolding a student who failed to answer a question correctly, and tearing up the student's paper. The video was released to The New York Times. Other teachers said that embarrassing or belittling children was a regular occurrence, and sometimes encouraged. Education experts interviewed by the Times said that the teacher's behavior was inappropriate and discouraged learning, although some readers defended the teacher.[8][9]

As of 2015 the schools were not unionized.[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.[10]

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".[10]


  1. ^ Kamenetz, Anya (January 30, 2013) "The Invasion of the Charter Schools" Village Voice
  2. ^ Solomon, Serena (February 20, 2013) Success Academy aims to open 7 new schools DNAinfo
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Taylor, Kate (April 6, 2015). "At Success Academy Charter Schools, High Scores and Polarizing Tactics". The New York Times. Retrieved April 7, 2015. 
  4. ^ Baker, Al; Hernández, Javier C. (March 5, 2014). "De Blasio and Moskowitz do battle". The New York Times. 
  5. ^ Brown, Stephen Rex (April 26, 2014) "City secures spaces for three Success Academy charter schools" New York Daily News
  6. ^ Taylor, Kate (February 15, 2016) "Dispute With New York City Threatens Success Academy’s Pre-K" The New York Times
  7. ^ Disare, Monica (September 29, 2015). "Seven New York City schools earn Blue Ribbon award". Chalkbeat New York. Retrieved November 25, 2015. 
  8. ^ Taylor, Kate (February 13, 2016) "At Success Academy School, a Stumble in Math and a Teacher’s Anger on Video" The New York Times
  9. ^ Haag, Matthew and Zerba, Amy (February 13, 2016) "Experts Discuss the Success Academy Video" The New York Times. The newspaper contacted eight experts with backgrounds in teaching and research to comment on a video of a Success Academy teacher responding to a student because of her math mistake.
  10. ^ a b Gonzalez, Juan (August 28, 2013). "Success Academy school chain comes under fire as parents fight 'zero tolerance' disciplinary policy". New York Daily News. Retrieved November 25, 2015. 

External links