Special-Needs Students: A Look at What the Success Academy Charter School Network Does — and How

Read this piece at Manhattan Institute

82 percent of Success Academy special-needs students are proficient in math, 60 percent in English

by Charles Sahm

New Yorkers have come to expect the extraordinary from Success Academy charter schools. So when results from the 2017 state exams were released, it wasn’t surprising that 95 percent of Success students scored proficient in math and 84 percent in English (compared with city district school averages of 38 and 41 percent, respectively).

What was notable, even for Success, was the performance of the network’s students with disabilities.

Of Success students with special needs, 82 percent scored proficient in math and 60 percent in English. Success reports that even among its students with moderate to severe learning disabilities — those assigned to self-contained classrooms with other students who have learning disabilities — 54 percent scored proficient in math and 32 percent in English. Astonishingly, Success students in self-contained classrooms outperformed both district and charter school math proficiency averages.

The city’s charter sector overall is serving more students with disabilities. While charters used to educate smaller percentages of students with disabilities than district schools, the gap has been virtually eliminated. Last year, 17 percent of city charter students received special education services, compared with 18 percent in district schools. (If pre-K isn’t included, the district special education percentage rises to about 20 percent but the charter percentage stays the same.)

Read the full piece at The 74, originally appearing on May 30th, 2018.


Charles Sahm is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute. His writing on education, policing, and other public-policy issues has appeared in numerous newspapers, magazines, and websites, including the LA Times, New York Post, New York Daily News, and City Journal. Find him on Twitter at @CharlesSahm.