When it comes to New York city’s Success Academy, the charter school network just about everyone in New York State has heard of, it is often their teaching methods that are talked about.
After all, when a charter school network has only been in existence for 11 years, but already has a large number of students from low-income backgrounds that are testing very high on state standardized tests, they must be doing something right.
What these teaching methods are, however, not many people seem to know. What Success Academy students do in their classrooms all day is also something else people wonder about.
So how do Success Academy schools teach their students, what do they study all day, and how has the Academy’s teaching methods caused such a shift in how well their students now do on standardized tests?
Success Academy teaching methods encompass two main things. First, a strict disciplinary model that does not tolerate any bad behavior in class or in the school at all — from students, teachers and parents alike, it needs to be stressed.
Second, the schools teach students that education is fun. That learning is hard work but can be enjoyed and that, if they are given the right tools, they can succeed.
These tools are a small amount of teacher-led instruction every day, followed by students working on group projects on a hands-on basis, and with access to some of the best equipment and resources of any school in the country.
Students are also taught critical thinking skills, how to problem solve and self-confidence in their own abilities to succeed. Self-advocacy is also key in their educational development.
Core subjects at Success Academy schools are quite difficult, with English, math and science being the main three, followed by other just as difficult subjects like debate, chess, geography, history and culture.
Electives like sport, dance and theater are also offered, and children can choose the ones they are the most interested in.
Children are then taught in an environment that mandates hard work, the ability to re-do anything they first failed at and one that rewards success.
No wonder Success Academy students do so well. With these types of teaching methods, any child could.