Recent Look at Charter Schools Attributes Success to Parents

For charter schools in the United States, the success of students who attend them is often scrutinized. This is especially true in New York City where local charter school Success Academy has been under the microscope for how it serves low-income students and pushes them to succeed.

The predominantly low-income student body of the New York charter school publishes a report every fall of its successes and failures, consistently showing top marks, its students outperforming children across the city in everything from test scores to attendance. But the secret to Success’s success doesn’t just come from the classroom.

In fact, according to a recent report from the Wall Street Journal, much of this can be attributed to the students’ home lives.

Decades of research have shown that parents who are engaged with their students at home, whether it’s one parent, both, or multiple adults, are far more important than schools and teachers and administrators to the success and involvement of a child. Children in engaged families, regardless of their income and socio-economic level, help to encourage their students to stay focused on the work in front of them at home and in the classroom.

At Success Charter, for example, parents must have considerable time and resources on hand and help meet the network’s demands for student success. This can be illustrated by the school’s absence of busing and after-school care seen in other charter schools. Parents must also sign contracts to read books to their children every week through second grade and log their children’s independent reading and homework through their high school years.

Earlier this year, an analysis of federal data by the Education Week Research Center identified nearly 950 public high schools with four-year graduation rates of less than 50 percent in 2016 and 2017. Of those schools, 54 percent are charter schools, which is one-quarter of all U.S. charter schools.

Statistics like these illustrate what parents and communities usually hear out of the charter school landscape. But Success Charter shows that achievement starts at home. Having engaged parents, even in low-income communities where time may be limited, using the resources at hand and maximizing the time available to work with children at home displays an output of grade testing scores and more engagement in the classroom.

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