Success Academy Cobble Hill Charter School
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Very high test scores; racially integrated school
Some parents balk at strict rules
Success Academy Cobble Hill, modeled after the charter networks flagship school in Harlem, has very high test scores and a racially and socioeconomically diverse student body. It combines a strict, no-nonsense tone with a curriculum that includes plenty of class trips and projects.
Kids must sit up straight and be silent, hands folded, until the teacher calls on them or instructs them to talk. Instruction is fast-paced with a large time clock on the wall to help kids stay on track, and there are several small timers in every room.
Starting in 3rd grade students spend about 30 minutes per day on test prep two months prior to the test and take sample tests weekly. A handful of children who cannot keep up are asked to repeat a grade, the principal told us.
Lessons are challenging and varied. Children must speak in complete sentences to explain their thinking. A boy was praised for speaking "loud and proud" at an easel to show how he used multiplication and addition to figure out the height of a fence at a zoo in a word problem. A 1st grader, exiting class for extra help with a special education teacher, defined, with a little prompting, the word permafrost to a visitor (ground that stays frozen all year) and mentioned she'd earned two stickers that day. The school makes liberal use of incentives such as toy money, stickers and praise to get kids to perform and behave.
Teachers take children on two field trips per month to places like an animal farm, Ellis Island or the Museum of Modern Art. Children delve into projects that last weeks, including a study of bread in kindergarten and immigration in 3rd grade.
The school occupies a pleasant basement floor in a brick building shared with two schools for older children in a leafy, middle class neighborhood. Entrance times are staggered and the school day is longer than a typical public school.
Although some teachers leave the network due to the demanding work and long hours, those who stay seem passionate about the model. We all deeply believe in it, said Brittany Davis-Roberti, principal at the time of our visit. Former assistant principal of the Williamsburg school, Alissa Bishop, took the helm in fall 2017.
While many parents are devoted to the schooland prefer it to popular District 15 schools nearbynot every parent likes the strict tone, emphasis on test scores and the rules that both children and parents must follow. One mother complained that she was barred from the school grounds for saying it was a damn shame that parents were required to wait outside on a rainy day, The New York Daily News reported. Other parents withdrew their children because they found the discipline punitive, according to comments posted on the InsideSchools website.
SPECIAL EDUCATION: Team-teaching classes mix children with special needs and general education peers in one room; one teacher is certified to teach special ed. Children who need a smaller class may choose to go to Bed-Stuy 1 elementary school.
ADMISSIONS: Lottery, preference to District 15 students.Families commute from Staten Island, East New York and Queens but no busing is provided. Graduates typically attend Success Academy middle schools, which begin in 5th grade. (Lydie Raschka, June 2017)