In New York City, Success Academy Charter Schools, originally Harlem Success Academy, is an operator of charter schools. Eva Moskowitz, a former city council member for the Upper East Side, is its founder and CEO. It has 47 New York area schools and 17,000 students.
Success Academy Charter Schools, established in 2006, is New York City’s largest and highest-performing free public charter school network. Admission is available to all children from New York State, including those with special needs and learners of the English language. A random lottery held each April admits students. In Manhattan , Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx, Performance Academy runs 47 schools serving 20,000 students. 78% of students in the network come from low-income households; 8.5% are current and former English language learners, and 15% are current and former students with special needs. Approximately 53% of our students are black, 30% are Latino, 7% are white, 5% are Asian, and 5% are multiracial.
Regulated by the Charter School Institute of the State University of New York, Achievement Academy schools may operate with greater independence than zoned schools, but are kept strictly accountable for student results by the state.
The first Success Academy charter, then Harlem Success Academy, was opened by Eva Moskowitz in 2006 with 157 lottery selected students. She later opened more schools in Harlem, then schools in other communities in New York City. Charter schools are funded by taxes and by gifts from philanthropists. The school was the subject of The Lottery, the documentary for 2010.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio revoked in February 2014 a number of previously approved charter school co-locations, including those for three Achievement Academy schools, that are publicly funded but privately run. After New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo stepped into the dispute, the decision was overturned in April.
Founders Joel Greenblatt and John Petry, managers of the Hedge Fund, helped to recruit Moskowitz as CEO. In July 2015, John Paulson donated $8.5 million to Progress Academy to help Brooklyn and Manhattan open middle schools. In summer 2016, the Performance Academy Education Institute was created to deliver the curriculum and teacher training tools of the network online to educators across the world.
Charter schools in New York City won the right to offer pre-kindergarten in 2014, and in fall 2015, Success Academy opened its first pre-kindergarten. New York City released a compulsory contract in 2015 giving oversight of all pre-kindergarten providers to its Department of Education. The contract was not signed by Success Academy, citing that the city has no power to control its charter schools. Success Academy canceled its pre-kindergarten program in June 2016 and filed a lawsuit before the State Supreme Court. In June 2017, the appeals court ruled in favor of Success Academy, arguing that the city does not control the pre-kindergarten services of a charter school, while also paying Success $720 K in back payments.
Success Academy provides teachers with four weeks of preparation over the summer and daily weekly training during the academic year. In the charter network, principals spend much of their time coaching students. The Board of Trustees of the State University of New York has voted to approve regulations which enable Success Academy to credential its own teachers. The schools highlight research, including awarding students prizes, and publicly rating how well each student is doing on the practice exams. As of October 2017, the Stanford Center for Education Outcomes Research (CREDO) found that students of the Harlem Achievement Academy earned approximately 137 additional days of reading learning and approximately 239 additional days of math learning.