Success Academy’s built-in advantage

Rarely a week goes by without news about the admittedly impressive results of Success Academy (“Why Success Academy is making remote learning work as regular schools flail,” New York Post, May 18).  The latest involves its smooth transition to online learning.  But Success Academy consistently outperforms traditional public schools in other areas as well.  For example, more than 80 percent of its students were proficient in math.  This compares with only one-third of students of their peers.

Why should anyone be surprised?  Success Academy demands serious parental commitment.  Parents must read nighty with their children, update reading logs, check homework, drill sight words and math facts, as well as maintain frequent contact with their children’s teachers. Traditional public schools cannot deny admission if parents do not agree to do all of these things. By law, they must admit all who show up at their door regardless of motivation and ability.

I submit that if traditional public schools were allowed to operate under the same set of rules, there would be little, if any, difference in outcomes.  In other words, the playing field is heavily tilted in favor of Success Academy.

(To post a comment, click on the title of this blog.)

2 Replies to “Success Academy’s built-in advantage”

  1. I have a related but different explanation for Success Academy’s high test scores.

    Certainly, the Success Academy parents are doing more than the average parent during the school year to ensure that their kids do their school work.

    But, more basically, the Success Academy parents display characteristics towards parenting that made them more effective parents from the day their kids were born (or perhaps even from the day their kids were conceived). The kind of parents who will agree to abide by the Success Academy rules are also the kind of parents who are generally very concerned re their kids’ lives and very functional generally. They are the kind of parents who will make sure the pregnant mother gets good nutrition and prenatal medical care + the infants/toddlers get good nutrition/medical care + the kids from birth onward get lots of high-quality adult-child verbal interaction. And, they are the kind of parents who will not neglect the kids or abuse the kids.

    Probably, in the high-SES suburban neighborhoods, the majority of parents display these characteristics. in the very-low-SES inner-city neighborhoods, there are many parents — perhaps even a majority — who do not display these characteristics.

    All the students at Success Academy have parents like this. The low-SES inner-city neighborhood schools will have some students with parents like this. But, those schools will also have many students with parents who are pretty much basket-cases as parents. And, the children of those basket-case parents will make the inner-city neighborhood school classrooms chaotic disasters. So, even the children of the very concerned/very functional parents will end up with low test scores in the low-SES inner-city neighborhood school.

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  2. Labor Lawyer: There’s no question that parents who apply to and agree to the rules at Success Academy are deeply involved in their children’s education. Otherwise, the would send them to neighborhood schools. I agree with you that such parents have done so from the day their children were born. As a result, Success Academy functions essentially as a private school. Traditional public schools must enroll all who show up at their doors regardless of motivation or ability. It’s little wonder, therefore, that Success Academy outperforms other public schools with similar socioeconomic populations.

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