Achievement First Endeavor Charter School
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High-achieving school in its own renovated building
Long school day and strict rules may not appeal to all
Achievement First Endeavor Charter School, part of agrowing network of several dozen schoolsfounded in Connecticut, offers a highly structured program with tight discipline and a long school day. The networks mission is to offer low-income, urban students with an education equal to that of their suburban peers and preparing them to succeed in college and beyond.
The school day and school year are longer than customary for public schools. Classrooms and hallways are lined with posters and labels reminding students of what they have to do and how they should do it.
Test scores at AF Endeavor are higher than the city and district averages and there is a strong emphasis on preparing for state tests. The focus on college starts early and classes are named after the teachers alma maters, including many Ivy League schools.
AF Endeavor occupies its own renovated six-story building on a factory-lined block of Clinton Hill.The Robin Hood FoundationandCivic 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 rapidly gentrifying neighborhood.
All AF schools have a strongly imposed culturestudents are called scholars, lessons involve building character values and families are expected to be actively involved in their childs education.On our visit, we saw posters saying No Excuses and photocopies of inspirational quotes from Malcolm X and Mahatma Gandhi and other historical figures line the walls. Desks were organized in tidy rows and the building was sparkling clean.
The elementary and middle schools are technically two different schools, each with its own principal and administration. 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.
Demanding work and long hours has led to significant churn among teachers with some 70 percent leaving after the 2014-2015 school year, according to state data. Many teachers cited lack of work-life balance, on Glass Door, an online job search and company review site but they praised the networks organization and the support they get from the administration and fellow teachers.
All elementary classes have two teachers, one leading the lesson and another providing individual support. Nearly all 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.
Ana Reyes, who works in operations for the school and whose children attend AF Endeavor, praised the schools focus on academics, particularly reading, writing and math. Discipline is strict, she said, but it enforces what we do at home too. I get compliments everywhere I go with my children. Her son with special needs got the services and evaluation that her previous district school didnt provide, she said.
Classes start at 7:30 am and end at 4 pm but many students choose to stay for after school activities such as STEP team, debate or a medical mentoring program. [Students] are more than happy to stay late, Reyes said.
SPECIAL EDUCATION: About 16 percent of the students have special needs. Many classrooms have two teachers and students with special needs post much higher scores on state exams than is average for the city.
ADMISSIONS: Lottery. District 13 priority. Most middle students come from the Achievement First elementary school but there is space for other students as well. Brooklyn Achievement First middle schools admit between 200-230 students from outside the network every year, an administrator said. (Anna Schneider visit & photos 2012;Pamela Wheaton, web reports and interviews, July 2017)Read more