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Broad Foundation Awards Success Academy $5 Million Based on New York Common Core Scores

Based on results shown by students during the recent Common Core state assessments in New York, a charter school organization has received a $5 million infusion to expand its programs. Success Academy, which currently serves about 7,000 students in 18 elementary and four middle schools, will use the funding from The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation to expand its set of schools across New York City over the next two years.

Success Academy's schools serve mostly low-income students and students of color. During the 2013 New York State exam, its schools ranked in the top 1 percent of all New York schools in math and in the top 7 percent for English language arts. Two schools — located in the South Bronx, where the poverty rate is 88 percent, ranked among the top 25 schools in the state. African-American and Hispanic scholars from Success schools outperformed white students across the state by more than 51 points in math and 27 points in English.

Those results are set against a backdrop in which the percentage of students across the entire state that were deemed "proficient" was significantly lower than in the 2011-2012 testing cycle.

The Success Academy schools use empty space in public school buildings; students are admitted by random public lottery. The test comparisons to traditional public schools in those shared buildings was "stark," the organization said in a statement. For example, in one school, nearly eight out of 10 Success Academy third-graders passed the math test while no third-grader in the co-located public school passed. In another building, 77 percent of Success Academy third-graders passed the English test, and 3 percent of the co-located students did so.

Overall, according to the school organization, Success students outperformed students across New York City by 52 percentage points in math and 32 percentage points in English.

"These results are astounding," said Rebecca Wolf DiBiase, managing director of programs for the Broad Foundation. "Clearly, Success Academy Charter Schools is doing something right, and this investment underscores our belief that high-quality charter schools need to expand so we ensure that more students have the opportunity to attend a great school."

The practices followed by Success Academy schools include these:

  • A commitment to teach science five days a week starting in kindergarten;
  • Students attend for a longer school day;
  • Student activities include art, chess and music, as well as literacy, writing and math; and
  • Success Academy provides up to 15 weeks of immersive training on content and pedagogy throughout the year.

The Broad Foundation was actually the first major funder of Success Academy. With the latest grant, that brings the total funding of Success by Broad to $11.4 million, about 9 percent of the total investment made by the foundation in education-related initiatives, which focuses on urban school districts.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a writer who covers technology and business for a number of publications. Contact her at dian@dischaffhauser.com.

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