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Success Academy Emphasizes Rigor and Personal Support

Success Academy Emphasizes Rigor and Personal Support

With 46 schools across the city, this charter school system improves upon its curriculum constantly.


Name of school: Success Academy

Grades: Kindergarten to grade 12

Size of student body: 15,500 in 46 schools

Educational approach or philosophy: At Success Academy curriculum and instruction are very rigorous, and at the same time are designed to ensure that every child receives the support and attention they need to meet their full academic potential. Individualized supports are provided to scholars who need them, while thoses who are ready to skip ahead may be accelerated. With rigor and joy as the guiding principles, Success Academy believes schools should be inspiring houses of learning where student engagement is the number one priority. With that in mind it has created a content-rich curriculum that is constantly being refined and improved. Because it is a charter school it has the autonomy to be nimble about making changes when something isn’t working for its scholars. “We believe that schools should be incredibly joyful places where kids are engaged, challenged, and inspired every day. For that reason, we prioritize things like chess, science five days a week starting in kindergarten, field studies, art, soccer, and music,” says Founder & CEO of Success Academy Charter Schools, Eva Moskowitz.

What makes the school unique: Students have science five days a week starting in kindergarten, and a chess program is built into the curriculum. Project-based learning, where students explore a topic in depth across all of their classes for 4-6 weeks, is also incorporated. Teachers spend very little time in front of the class--in fact, the school reverses the ratio of teacher talk to student talk in its classrooms to ensure that students remain active learners. Students learn scientific principles by conducting experiments and discussing evidence, and master mathematical concepts by creating problem-solving strategies and sharing these ideas with their peers. "It is so important that kids do the thinking work, which is why we limit 'teacher talk' and encourage 'scholar talk.' Our teachers are only doing 80 minutes of ‘direct instruction' a day. The rest of the time our students are conducting experiments, debating a math strategy, or engaging in powerful book discussions," says Moskowitz.  The school is also unique in that it does not view subjects like art, music, debate, chess, or soccer as “extracurricular.” At Success Academy, these subjects are not extra, but rather an integral part of the curriculum. 



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