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Success Academy Charter Schools

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Success Academy Charter Schools
Success Academy Charter Schools logo.svg
95 Pine Street, New York, N.Y. 10005 (Main office)
Coordinates40°42′16″N 74°00′23″W / 40.70444°N 74.00639°W / 40.70444; -74.00639Coordinates: 40°42′16″N 74°00′23″W / 40.70444°N 74.00639°W / 40.70444; -74.00639
School typePublic charter with public & private funds
Established2006 (2006)
FounderEva S. Moskowitz
AuthorizerCharter Schools Institute, State University of New York
Chief Executive OfficerEva Moskowitz
ScheduleMid-August to mid-June
Campus typeUrban
Color(s)Orange and blue (logo and uniforms)
AthleticsSoccer, Track & Field, Cross Country, Basketball
Communities servedvarious New York City neighborhoods

Success Academy Charter Schools, originally Harlem Success Academy, is a charter school operator in New York City. Eva Moskowitz, a former city council member for the Upper East Side, is its founder and CEO.[4][5] It has 47 schools in the New York area and 17,000 students.[6][7]

According to the New York Post, Success Academy had 17,700 applicants for 3,288 available seats, which resulted in a wait list of more than 14,000 families for the 2018–2019 school year.[8] The shortage of seats can be at least partly attributed to New York state educational policy. Robert Pondiscio, author of How The Other Half Learns (2019), which chronicles the structure and achievement of the Success Academy, believes that Moskowitz would quickly expand the system to 100 schools if the charter sector was not "hard up against the charter school cap in the State of New York".[9]

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.[10]


Eva Moskowitz opened the first Success Academy charter, then Harlem Success Academy, in 2006 with 157 students chosen by lottery.[11] She subsequently opened more schools in Harlem, and then schools in other New York City neighborhoods. The charter schools are funded by taxpayers and philanthropic donations.[12] The school was the subject of the 2010 documentary, The Lottery.[13]

In February 2014, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio revoked a number of previously approved charter school co-locations, which are publicly funded but privately run, including those for three Success Academy schools.[14] 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.[15]

Hedge fund managers Joel Greenblatt and John Petry were founders who helped to recruit Moskowitz as CEO.[16] John Paulson donated $8.5 million to Success Academy in July 2015 to help open middle schools in Brooklyn and Manhattan.[17] The Success Academy Education Institute was formed in Summer 2016, to distribute the network's curriculum and teacher training resources online to educators across the country.[18]

In 2014, New York City charter schools won the right to provide pre-kindergarten, and Success Academy opened its first pre-kindergarten in fall 2015.[19] In 2015, New York City issued a mandatory contract granting its Department of Education oversight over all pre-kindergarten providers.[20] Success Academy did not sign the contract, citing that the city does not have authority to regulate its charter schools. In June 2016, Success Academy canceled its pre-kindergarten program and filed a suit in the State Supreme Court.[21] The appeals court ruled in favor of Success Academy in June 2017, stating that the city could not regulate a charter school's pre-kindergarten programs, while also awarding $720K in back payments to Success.[22][23]


Success Academy gives four weeks of training to teachers in the summer and regular weekly training in the school year. Principals in the charter network spend most of their time coaching teachers.[24] The State University of New York's Board of Trustees has voted to approve regulations that allow Success Academy to certify its own teachers.[25]

As measured by standardized test scores, the students at Success Academy outscore contemporaries in both urban public schools and wealthy suburban schools in the New York City area.[26] In New York City, 47% percent of public school students passed state reading tests, and 43% passed math tests. At Success schools, corresponding percentages were 91% and 98%.[27] These scores come from a student group made up of 95% children of color, with families having a median income of $32,000.[28] No new students above the fourth grade are accepted at Success.[26]

The schools emphasize testing, including giving prizes to students, and publicly ranking how well each student does on the practice tests.[26] As of October 2017, Stanford's Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) found that Harlem Success Academy students received approximately 137 extra days of learning in reading and approximately 239 additional days of learning in math.[29][30][31]


Mother Cabrini High School was one of the facilities that the city arranged for Success Academy to move into, and now called Success Academy Washington Heights

Success has 45 schools with 17,000 students from kindergarten through high school.[32] [33][11]

The Bronx[34]
  • Bronx 1
  • Bronx 2
  • Bronx 3
  • Bronx 4
  • Bronx 1 Middle School
  • Bronx 2 Middle School
  • Bed-Stuy 1
  • Bed-Stuy 2
  • Bensonhurst
  • Bergen Beach
  • Bushwick
  • Cobble Hill
  • Crown Heights
  • Flatbush
  • Forte Greene
  • Prospect Heights
  • Williamsburg
  • Bed-Stuy Middle School
  • Ditmas Park Middle School
  • East Flatbush Middle School
  • Lafayette Middle School
  • Myrtle Middle School
  • Harlem 1
  • Harlem 2
  • Harlem 3
  • Harlem 4
  • Harlem 5
  • Harlem 6
  • Harlem East
  • Harlem North Central
  • Harlem North West
  • Harlem West
  • Hell's Kitchen
  • Hudson Yards
  • Midtown West
  • Union Square
  • Upper West
  • Washington Heights
  • Hudson Yards Middle School
  • High School of the Liberal Arts – Manhattan
  • Far Rockaway
  • Rosedale
  • South Jamaica
  • Springfield Gardens
  • Queens 1 Middle School


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. Education experts stated that the teacher's behavior was inappropriate and discouraged learning.[35][36] A 2015 article in The New York Times reported that discipline, social pressure, positive reinforcement, and suspension are applied to students, as teachers are rewarded for better behavior and performance. Former teachers claimed that they quit because they disagreed with Success' punitive approach to students.[26]

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.[37]

In April 2019, a former Success Academy parent filed an official complaint against Success Academy Charter Schools on the grounds that Success Academy systematically removes students with disabilities.[38] The State Department of Education found that Success failed to meet legal requirements for those students.

Statistics gathered by the New York State Education Department show much higher rates of suspension at most Success Academy schools than at 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".[37]

The selection method for admission has come under fire for an "abdication of responsibility" to educate all children within a geographic area. Moskowitz responds by noting that traditional neighborhood schools can "institutionalize housing segregation, making a child’s zip code his educational destiny" while charter schools are tools for "social justice" by allowing parents to choose schools beyond geographic constraints.[16]

In May 2019, the U.S. Department of Education found Success Academy Charter School had released personally identifiable information about a student's discipline records to the press.[39] This disclosure was in response to a PBS NewsHour segment with John Merrow that was itself investigated by the PBS ombudsman, Michael Getler, for having excessively relied on a single identified student, whose family was unwilling to release his school records to PBS investigators to provide journalistic context into the student's depiction.[40] The show went beyond documenting the practice of the school in disciplining students at an unusually young age over minor infractions, into suggesting that the school engaged in this practice to weed undesired students out before state testing begins in the third grade.[40] Success Academy in their rebuttal did not disclose the name of the student, but only one student had publicly identified himself in the NewsHour segment. Given the public allegations of corrupt motivation, Success Academy attorneys that they had no choice but to respond with details of their own,[39] along the lines of objections they had provided PBS before the show aired.[40] Getler concluded that the student's relatively small but important role on the show did not warrant exposure of his extensive record of misbehavior at that school, but chided the episode for not having pursued on-the-record sources for their more severe allegations.[40]

A Success Academy spokesperson resigned due to what she described as "systemic abuse of students, parents, and employees"[41] in June 2020. This resignation occurred in midst of the nation-wide Black Lives Matter protests, during which Success Academy faced scrutiny for racist practices within schools and the organizations strict academic and disciplinary policies, that largely impact Black and Brown children.[42]

Awards and recognition

In 2012, Harlem Success Academy Charter School 1 became the first city charter school to be awarded a National Blue Ribbon.[43] Harlem Success Academy Charter School 3 was awarded a National Blue Ribbon by the U.S. Department of Education in 2015.[44] In 2016, both Harlem Success Academy Charter School 4 and Bronx Success Academy Charter School 1 were awarded National Blue Ribbons.[45] Success Academy Bed‐Stuy 1 in Brooklyn and Success Academy Harlem 2 in Manhattan received National Blue Ribbons in 2018.[46]

In June 2017, Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation and the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools awarded Success Academy with the 2017 Broad Prize for Public Charter Schools, an award recognizing the best academic outcomes in the nation for low-income students and students of color.[47] In 2015, the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation and other charter advocates developed the concept of a multi-million dollar, multi-year Great Public Schools Now project to create 260 new charter schools representing 50% of the charter market share in Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) to serve as a model for the expansion of charter schools in the United States.[48][49][50]

A grant for $250K to support college-readiness programs was also awarded to Success Academy at the National Charter School Conference in Washington, D.C.[51][52]

In September 2017, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced that Success Academy was one of the recipients of the Department of Education's charter grants.[53] In April 2019 the Department of Education awarded the Academy with a $9,842,050 Charter Schools Program (CSP) grant to "open new schools and expand existing schools"[54]


  1. ^ "Success Academy Careers". Success Academy. Retrieved November 10, 2017.
  2. ^ "Success Academy High School of the Liberal Arts – Manhattan". Success Academy. 2014-01-09. Retrieved November 10, 2017.
  3. ^ "History". Success Academy. 2013-09-13. Retrieved November 10, 2017.
  4. ^ Kamenetz, AwaCassidyBecca, Anya (January 30, 2013) "The Invasion of the Charter Schools" Village Voice
  5. ^ Solomon, Serena (February 20, 2013) Success Academy aims to open 7 new schools Archived 2013-05-08 at the Wayback Machine DNAinfo
  6. ^ Perry, Mark J. (24 August 2017). "The amazing, 'eye-popping' success of Success Academy Charter Schools". AEI. Retrieved 18 September 2017.
  7. ^ Algar, Selim (6 April 2017). "Success Academy calls for big expansion as wait lists swell". New York Post. Retrieved 11 July 2017.
  8. ^ Chapman, Ben. "Success Academy charter school sees huge number of kids apply". NY Daily News. Retrieved 2019-01-03.
  9. ^ "Robert Pondiscio on How the Other Half Learns". Library of Economics and Liberty. 18 May 2020. Retrieved 23 September 2020.
  10. ^ Almond, Kyle (13 October 2010). "Documentaries spark education debate". CNN. Retrieved 18 September 2017.
  11. ^ a b Fertig, Beth (September 28, 2016). "Success at 10: Longtime Students Look Back". wNYC. Retrieved September 24, 2017.
  12. ^ "What New York City's Biggest School Reformer Sees in Donald Trump".
  13. ^ Catsoulis, Jeannette (2010-06-10). "Education by Chance". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-09-03.
  14. ^ Baker, Al; Hernández, Javier C. (March 5, 2014). "De Blasio and Moskowitz do battle". The New York Times.
  15. ^ Brown, Stephen Rex (April 26, 2014) "City secures spaces for three Success Academy charter schools" New York Daily News
  16. ^ a b Elizabeth Green. "The Charter-School Crusader". The Atlantic (January/February 2018).
  17. ^ "Hedge Fund Billionaire John Paulson Gives $8.5 Million To Open New Success Academy Schools".
  18. ^ "Success Academy Charter Schools Plans to Share Curriculum Online".
  19. ^ "New York Consolidated Laws, Education Law – EDN § 3602-ee. Statewide universal full-day pre-kindergarten program".
  20. ^ Shapiro, Eliza (16 October 2015). "Pre-K contract sparks new fight between Success Academy and City Hall". Politico. Retrieved 5 July 2017.
  21. ^ Taylor, Kate (1 June 2016). "Success Academy Network Cancels Pre-K Program Amid Contract Dispute". The New York Times. Retrieved 5 July 2017.
  22. ^ Italiano, Laura (9 June 2017). "Success Academy awarded $720K in back payments from city". New York Post. Retrieved 5 July 2017.
  23. ^ Taylor, Kate (9 June 2017). "Success Academy Wins Round in Fight Over Preschool Oversight". The New York Times. Retrieved 5 July 2017.
  24. ^ "From Harlem to Capitol Hill, a lesson in producing better teachers".
  25. ^ Taylor, Kate (October 11, 2017). "Some Charter Schools Can Certify Their Own Teachers, Board Says". The New York Times. Retrieved November 10, 2017.
  26. ^ a b c d Taylor, Kate (April 6, 2015). "At Success Academy Charter Schools, High Scores and Polarizing Tactics". The New York Times. Retrieved April 7, 2015.
  27. ^ Board, Daily News Editorial. "Testing our patience: What new state exams say about progress in the city schools". NY Daily News. Retrieved 2019-01-14.
  28. ^ "Success Academy Wins Award for Closing Achievement Gaps (And Scores Two Victories in One Week)".
  29. ^ "Charter School Performance in New York City" (PDF). Center for Research on Educational Outcomes. October 2017. Retrieved November 10, 2017.
  30. ^ Brody, Leslie (October 4, 2017). "Study Finds Test-Score Growth at NYC Charter Schools Outpaces District Schools". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved November 10, 2017.
  31. ^ Prothero, Arianna (October 4, 2017). "Charter Networks Show Big Gains Over Other New York City Schools". Education Week. Retrieved November 10, 2017.
  32. ^ "Our Results - Success Academy Charter Schools". Success Academy Home Page. Retrieved 28 July 2020. serving 17,000 students across 45 schools
  33. ^ "New York Attacks Success".
  34. ^ a b c d "Schools". Success. Retrieved September 24, 2017.
  35. ^ Taylor, Kate (February 13, 2016) "At Success Academy School, a Stumble in Math and a Teacher’s Anger on Video" The New York Times
  36. ^ 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.
  37. ^ 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.
  38. ^ Zimmerman, Alex (2019-04-22). "Success Academy forced out a student by suspending him and taking him to a police precinct, lawsuit claims". Chalkbeat New York. Retrieved 2020-08-26.
  39. ^ a b Brown, Rex (4 June 2019). "Charter school honcho Eva Moskowitz leaked student's disciplinary record after his mom criticized repeated suspensions, federal investigators find". New York Daily News. Retrieved 23 September 2020.
  40. ^ a b c d Getler, Michael (26 October 2015). "A Bruising Battle in the Schoolyard". PBS. Retrieved 23 September 2020. Then he goes on to ask: "Could out-of-school suspensions be a factor in the network's academic success? Eva Moskowitz's critics think so. They accuse her of suspending very young children over and over to persuade parents to change schools before state testing begins in third grade. Could that be true? We do know that some Success Academy students are suspended over and over."
  41. ^ Zimmerman, Alex (2020-06-23). "Success Academy spokesperson resigns over 'abusive practices at NYC's largest charter network". Chalkbeat New York. Retrieved 2020-08-26.
  42. ^ "Success Academy Faces Fierce Criticism Over Its Handling of Racial Issues". Retrieved 2020-08-27.
  43. ^ "Five city schools earn 'Blue Ribbon' honors for their test scores".
  44. ^ Disare, Monica (September 29, 2015). "Seven New York City schools earn Blue Ribbon award". Chalkbeat New York. Retrieved November 25, 2015.
  45. ^ "10 NYC Schools Selected as 2016 National Blue Ribbon Winners".
  46. ^ "8 New York City schools – including 2 Success charters – win federal 'Blue Ribbon' status for 2018". Chalkbeat. 2018-10-01. Retrieved 2019-01-14.
  47. ^ Brighenti, Daniela (June 12, 2017). "Success Academy CEO Eva Moskowitz is having a very good week". Chalkbeat. Retrieved January 17, 2020.
  48. ^ "Backers want half of LAUSD students in charter schools in eight years, report says". Los Angeles Times. September 21, 2015. Retrieved January 17, 2020.
  49. ^ "The Great Public Schools Now Initiative". Los Angeles Times. September 21, 2015.
  50. ^ Amartey, Pj. "Our Vision". Great Public Schools Now. Retrieved January 17, 2020.
  51. ^ Chapman, Ben (12 June 2017). "Eva Moskowitz's Success Academy wins $250G Broad Prize, will use money to support college-readiness programs". New York Daily News. Retrieved 11 July 2017.
  52. ^ "The Broad Prize for Public Charter Schools".
  53. ^ Phenicie, Carolyn (September 28, 2017). "Education Department Awards More Than $250 Million in Charter Grants; Winners Include Success, IDEA". 74's. Retrieved January 16, 2020.
  54. ^ "Success Academy Awarded $9.8 Million by U.S. Department of Education to Open and Expand Schools". Success Academy. April 16, 2019. Retrieved January 16, 2020.

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