Achievement First Endeavor Charter School
BROOKLYN NY 11238 Map
Achievement First Endeavor Charter School
Our review:A billboard hanging near the front doors of Achievement First Endeavor declares the sparkling new structure to be “Home of the hardest working students in New York.” Students attend school from 7:30 am until 4:30 pm and then go home to study some more. Even kindergarten teachers assign at least an hour of homework each night.
AF Endeavor is part of a network of charter schools that has a strongly imposed “no excuses” culture. Achievement First’s mission is to prove an urban school can succeed at a low cost and prepare students for college. School officials say fulfilling the mission takes a strict, no-nonsense approach to learning. “We have a lot of work to do, we’re closing the achievement gap,” said Devyn Humphrey, an AF spokesperson.
The hard work pays off in high middle school math scores on state standardized exams. Reading scores are significantly lower, a challenge the school is addressing with four hours of daily literacy instruction.
All AF schools have a strongly imposed culture – students are called “scholars,” half the lessons involve building “character values” and new families are “on-boarded,” and expected to be actively in their child’s education. Posters saying “No Excuses” and photocopies of inspirational quotes from Malcolm X and Mahatma Gandhi and other historical figures line the walls. Desks are organized in tidy rows and the building is sparkling clean.
In 2010, AF Endeavor middle school moved from a shared building in Bedford Stuyvesant to its own renovated six-story building on a factory-lined block of Clinton Hill. The Robin Hood Foundation and Civic Builders, a non-profit that specializes in charter school building, transformed a former ice cream factory into a school. The facility features elevated playing fields and bright floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the quickly gentrifying neighborhood.
In fall 2011, AF Endeavor, which began as a 5-8 middle school in 2006, opened a lower school with kindergarten and 1st grade and will grow to 4th grade. All students wear uniforms color-coded by grade.
The elementary and middle schools are technically two different schools, each with its’ own principal and administration. “They are two separate schools that happen to be in the same building, different floors,” said Mel Ochoa, another AF spokesperson. But, 4th graders who graduate from AF Endeavor elementary may automatically continue on to Endeavor middle school and eventually high schools within the charter network. Class sizes for both schools average about 27 students.
The middle school principal is Tom Kaiser, a Teach for America alumni and former AF Endeavor teacher. Every middle school student learns an instrument and plays in the school's jazz band, and there is an optional, after school orchestra program as well. Other than music, enrichment is generally confined to field trips, such as to the Alvin Ailey Dance Company and local colleges. Stucents can "buy" using Scholar Dollars, earned through good behavior and work habits to other activities such as laser tag and other field trips.
The founding principal of the elementary school, Stephanie Blake, is a former teacher who smiles and says “Awesome!” a lot but has strict expectations: “College starts the first minute of kindergarten,” she says. The longer school day is packed with literacy and math instruction and Blake expects her students to have, “hands folded, eyes on the teacher.”
All elementary classes have two teachers, one leading the lesson and another providing individual support or quietly working at a desk in the back of the room. That way Achievement First can more easily accommodate special needs students, says Humphrey. Some middle school classes have two teachers as well. Children are assessed every six weeks to measure their learning levels so teachers may provide targeted learning interventions when necessary.
The Achievement First has received bad press in the past for harsh disciplinary tactics and there are many suspension – 115 at the middle school in 2009-10 school year. Humphrey said that about 12 percent of students leave for other schools each year, a number she hopes to reduce to 5 percent.
Admissions: Lottery. Priority to District 13.
Special Education: The school has a lower rate of special education students than the rest of District 13, a discrepancy AF says they are working to reconcile. Students who need extra attention receive help both inside and outside the classroom. (Anna Schneider, May 2012)
At a glance
Number of Students 1002
Average Daily Attendance 98%
Safety & vibe
How many teachers say bullying is a problem at school?NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE
How many teachers say order and discipline are maintained in the school?97% 75% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
ARE CLASSES BIG?
Number of students in an average kindergarten classNA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE
Number of students in an average fifth grade classNA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE
Number of students in an average middle school english classNA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE
DO TEACHERS LIKE THE SCHOOL?
How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?95% 79% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
How many teachers would recommend this school to other parents?NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE
How many students are chronically absent?NA 22% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
Percent of students in grades 3-8 who scored 3 or 4 on the state math exam
Percent of students in grades 3-8 who scored 3 or 4 on the state ela exam
Percent of 4th graders who scored 3 or 4 on the state science exam
Percent of 8th graders who scored 3 or 4 on the state science exam
Does the school encourage family involvement?
How many parents say they were invited to an event at the school at least 3 times in the last school year?NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE
Do parents like the school?
How many parents would recommend this school to other parents?NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE
Special ed & ELL
How well does this school serve students with disabilities?
This school NULL self-contained classes.
Percent of self-contained students who scored 3 or 4 on the state math exam:13% 6% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
Percent of self-contained students who scored 3 or 4 on the state ELA exam:0% 2% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
This school NULL team teaching (ict).
Percent of ICT students who scored 3 or 4 on the state math exam:22% 14% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
Percent of ICT students who scored 3 or 4 on the state ELA exam:10% 8% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
Percent of SETSS students who scored 3 or 4 on the state math exam:50% 15% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
Percent of SETSS students who scored 3 or 4 on the state ELA exam:33% 9% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
How many parents say students with disabilities are included in all activities?
How many teachers say students with special needs are educated in the least restrictive environment appropriate?
How many parents of students with ieps say this school offers a wide enough variety of services and activities for their children’s needs?