Success Academy Class Of 2020 Sheds 239 Scholars Along The Way

The New York Post recently ran an editorial about the SAT scores of the Success Academy senior class of 2020.  Of all the different numbers they referenced, one that I took note of was 114 — the apparent number of students in the senior class.

The class of 2020 is the third graduating class of Success Academy.  The class of 2018 had 17 seniors out of a cohort of 73 first graders in 2006-2007.  The class of 2019 had 26 seniors out of a cohort of 83 kindergartners in 2006-2007.  Some of the class of 2019 were students who had been held back from the class of 2018 — probably in a comparable number to the number of 2019 students who will graduate this year.  So the 26 out of 83, or 31% persistence rate probably accounts for students who take an extra year to graduate.

For the class of 2020, things get a bit more complicated since in 2008 Success Academy did its first expansion and grew from one school, now called Harlem 1, into four schools now including Harlem 2, Harlem 3, and Harlem 4.  Some of the past records are incomplete for these schools, but when the 2020 cohort was in 2nd grade in 2009-2010, I find that there was a combined 353 students in the cohort.  By 6th grade, they were down to 263 students and by 9th grade it was 191.  In 10th grade they were 161 students and in 11th grade, 146.  And now, according to the New York Post article based on a Success Academy press release, they have 114 seniors.  So only 32% of the students who were there in second grade made it through their program.  And even more startling is that of the 191 9th graders that had been at Success Academy for 10 years, only 59% of them are on track to graduate three years later.


[all data gotten from ]

This 32% persistence rate doesn’t even include the students who ‘backfilled’ some of the empty spots for students who have left over the years.  Without access to more granular data, this isn’t something I can study right now.  From Robert Pondiscio’s book about Success Academy we learn that the backfill process is somewhat corrupt.  Families that get off the wait list to backfill vacated spots are sometimes told that if they come to Success Academy their children will have to redo the grade they had just passed in their other school.  Surely many of these families choose to forfeit their place off the waiting list and, in that way, Success Academy makes sure that the backfill students are generally the higher performing students which serve to inflate the school’s test scores.

According to Success Academy, the demographic data for their students are:  74% receive free or reduced-price lunch, 16% have disabilities, and 8% are English language learners.  But the most recent data (From 2017-2018) about the 2020 cohort from the New York State public site is that 66% are economically disadvantaged, 11% are students with disabilities, and 0% English language learners.

Success Academy and The New York Post love to claim that Mayor de Blasio is out to get Success Academy.  I really don’t think so because de Blasio has access to the type of data that could so easily expose the various ways that Success Academy tips the scale in their favor.  Just using publicly available data, I’ve been able to uncover so much about their massive attrition rate.  Imagine how much can be learned from the data that the New York City DOE can access.

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13 Responses to Success Academy Class Of 2020 Sheds 239 Scholars Along The Way

  1. jlsteach says:

    Gary I understand your point (particularly the number they fell from junior to senior year). However the assumption that every single student was one that was kicked out or forced out seems a bit of a stretch. For example, I attended a 7-12th grade private school starting in grade 7 and then moved after grade 9. Should the school be penalized because I moved?

  2. happy gilmore says:

    This crap has been going on for years its just plain gossip at this point as eva moskowitch is laughing all the way to the bank

  3. Peter Goodman says:

    What are comparable data for neighboring (District 5) public schools?

  4. Pingback: Gary Rubinstein: Eva Moskowitz’s Success Academy Grows But Continues to Have High Attrition Rates | Diane Ravitch's blog

  5. NYC public school parent says:

    I think the incredibly high attrition rate — and the fact that Success Academy needed to hold back so many high school students and force them to repeat a year — is clearly the fault of the very subpar and inadequate middle and elementary schools that those high school students came from. It is not the fault of the terrific Success Academy high school — the blame should rest with the middle and elementary schools that deprived so many of those 191 freshmen of a decent education.

    What terrible middle and elementary public schools did all those students who were so poorly prepared for Success Academy high school come from? Those middle and elementary schools must have been particularly bad when 40% of your students can’t handle high school work.

  6. Vito LaBella says:

    What is the attrition rate for all high schools?

  7. CD says:

    I’m not sure I understand the point here. There is no context. The attrition rates of charter school students will always be higher than traditional public schools as every charter school student has at least one other option. There’s also no breakdown as to why these students left and to where they went. Strongly suggest reading the book that just came out, referenced here. It’s pretty fascinating, no matter your opinion on SA.

    • NewarkTFA says:

      Um, Gary did read and review that book back in September?
      The link to that review “How the Other 1/300th Learns” is available right here.

    • mjpledger says:

      But if Success Academy is better than public schools then traditional public schools can’t be an option.

      Of course we can’t delve into statistics about why students left because SA won’t publish that data. But saying Gary’s data is without context is the exact argument that Gary is making about SA promotions about SAT scores and graduation rates. Without the context around that the rates are meaningless. And part of the context is how many kids leave and what happens to them and how many kids join SA.

      IMO SAT scores and graduation rates should be presented for all students who attended the school but weighted by the length of time at the school. If kids stays 13 years or more then they contribute all their score to the average, if kids stay half that time then their score only contributes at half weight. There shouldn’t be a statistical reward for tossing kids.

  8. eva way says:

    The point here is that success schools keeps the very best students they can and sends the rest of them back to public schools right…then they have the cream of the crop a mere 20-30 kids after years in their system beginning with the original cohorts… so are we to go stark crazy when moskowitz posts and brags about 20 kids doing ok on the sat scores?
    Further colleges today and many of them are not even considering standardized tests such as sats….no colleges now want diverse people with creative ideas not some robots who can memorize stuff…..listening eva?

  9. Sheron says:

    This cohort was only backfilled through second grade. Though SA did eventually begin backfilling up through fourth grade that did not begin until 2012 or 2013 when this cohort had already moved into middle school.

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