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Success Academy Announces Its Approach to Accountability During COVID-19

**FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, APRIL 27, 2020** Contact: Liz Baker, 646-904-4200 [email protected] Contact: Ann Powell, 646-894-6407 [email protected]

New York, NY — Today, Success Academy CEO Eva Moskowitz informed families that their scholars would be assessed and receive grades just as they have in previous years. With slight modifications to instructional priorities and assessments, the network’s 18,000 students in grades K-12 will finish the school year with core achievement goals that were in place at the beginning of the school year.

In an email sent to families today, Moskowitz wrote, “The world has fundamentally changed, but the benefits and requisites of education have not. Now is not the time to throw out standards and give up on kids.”

On March 13, Moskowitz announced the network’s 45 schools would move to remote learning the following week. Within days of transitioning from on-campus instruction to remote, Success Academy was sharing its learning plan with educators around the country. The Washington Post cited the plan as a “proactive and forward-thinking” model for schools to consider, and after spending two days observing the network’s online instruction, veteran educator Steven Wilson shared his observations in a post on the Center on Reinventing Public Education’s blog (Every Minute Counts: Inside Success Academy’s Virtual Schools).

Below is a copy of the email:

Dear SA families,

We are living in uncertain and very difficult times, amid a global health catastrophe and economic shutdown. Charting a way forward calls for bold action, but that boldness must stay true to our core values and belief in children’s capabilities. With your extraordinary help, we are continuing to teach seriously and productively every day. We continue to celebrate joy in learning and the importance of students’ working and creating ideas and insights.

Two weeks ago, in response to coronavirus, the entire city of San Francisco decided to give every student an A. Seattle followed suit last week, and New York City is currently debating the elimination of grades. These decisions are made in the name of equity, but the outcomes for children will be far from fair.

True equity honors the integrity of learning. It ensures accountability for students and educators alike. A child who studies and achieves mastery deserves an A, and the student who struggles but overcomes and earns a hard-fought B deserves that B. Teachers and parents share responsibility as well — guiding, challenging, supporting, and motivating scholars to do their best. At Success, we believe it would be an abdication of our responsibility to treat grades like candy and to have no standards for ourselves or your children.

The world has fundamentally changed, but the benefits and requisites of education have not. Now is not the time to throw out standards and give up on kids. Today’s fourth graders should be ready to do fifth-grade math next year.  Freshmen will still need to be ready to tackle calculus in high school. Being prepared for life — economically, civically, socially, and emotionally — will be even more important once this pandemic is behind us. As educators and adults, we embrace our job of preparing kids for their academic and life journeys.

For two-thirds of this school year, our scholars were in class, getting live, in-person instruction and taking assessments. For the remainder of the school year, we have modified our instructional priorities. To reflect the context we find ourselves in, we have made adjustments to our assessments and promotional criteria. Just as we did before coronavirus, when we were in our school buildings, we will work as hard as we possibly can over the remaining weeks to ensure all scholars are learning and growing academically. All of us must be in this together, parents and educators, especially now, when your children’s only contact with us is through their screens.

Fundamentally, we have faith in our educators and our students. Over the past six weeks, from kindergartener to senior, our scholars have not given up. They have continued to gain mastery and understanding, to expand what they know and learn more. At dining room tables and makeshift desks, from southeast Queens to brownstone Brooklyn to the South Bronx, they have done the reading, writing, and mathematics; studied Shakespeare and the Mongol invasion; learned geometry and biomedical engineering. Not all have learned equally. Some have adapted to distance learning better than others. Some were struggling before coronavirus, and others have been newly challenged in this difficult time. But we owe it to all of them to assess their learning, identify whatever gaps need to be filled, and plan accordingly for each individual scholar.

The pain and suffering brought on by coronavirus are real, and the hardships families have endured cannot be overstated. Despite this, we cannot wave a magic wand and declare all children achieved mastery. That would cheat students with real gaps of the education they deserve. Instead, we are being practical: revising and simplifying our academic priorities, while also aiming high and being ambitious for our students — loving them dearly and doing everything we can to help them achieve their full potential.

In the coming days, you will receive an email from your principal with specific information about these modifications by grade as they relate to your scholar.

Thank you for your support, for your belief in us. Together, we will ensure a strong future for our scholars.

Warmly, Eva Moskowitz



Founded in 2006, Success Academy Charter Schools are free public K-12 schools open to all children in the state through a random lottery. With 45 schools across Brooklyn, the Bronx, Manhattan, and Queens, Success Academy enrolls 18,000 students, primarily children of color from low-income households in disadvantaged neighborhoods: 74% receive free or reduced-price lunch, 94% are students of color, 16% have disabilities, and 8% are English language learners. Success Academy schools received more than 17,000 applications for about 4,000 open seats for the 2019-20 academic year.

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