New York City-based Success Academy is known for the success of its students. Students in public schools run by Success Academy test in the 90th percentile for all core subjects, and proficiency rates in both English and math in all their schools is close to 100 percent.
Other public schools sharing the same space as Success Academy schools have a proficiency rate of less than 30 percent, and their students test low on state-wide tests.
So what is Success Academy doing differently than other New York City public schools, and how has it avoided the problems they have?
A fun learning environment — While most New York City public schools stick to the same teaching based on instruction that has been in force in the U.S. for many generations, Success Academy’s education is based on a hands-on, fun learning environment that engages students and makes them think.
Consequently, while students at other public schools fail or drop out, students at Success Academy schools are in the top 10 percent of the state, have excellent attendance records and arrive at school wanting to learn.
Critical thinking and inquiry — Success Academy schools’ education system is also based on the need for students to be taught critical thinking, and for inquisitiveness and inquiry to be a huge part of their daily life at school.
Thus, students only received just over an hour of instruction from teachers every day, and then the remainder of their school day is spent doing project-based activities with fellow students.
These projects are quite rigorous in nature — programming a robot, putting together a computer — and yet students love participating in them and, yes, they learn.
Strict discipline — The final component of a good Success Academy education is strict discipline. Something that does not exist in many New York City public schools.
Success Academy students are expected to be arrive on time and be appropriately dressed, be polite, behave well, follow instruction and work hard. There are consequences for any child that does not.
Hence, behavior among most students tends to be good, unlike in other public schools where bad behavior is damaging the teachers’ ability to teach and the students’ ability to learn.