Why Success Academy is making remote learning work as regular schools flail

Robert Pondiscio:

In the summer of 2013, after New York adopted more rigorous standards, test scores plummeted around the state. Fewer than one in three students in New York City district schools scored proficient in math. Yet students enrolled in the Success Academy charter-school network stunned the education establishment with their performance: More than 80 percent achieved proficiency in math.

Now, amid the pandemic-driven national experiment in compulsory homeschooling and online learning, Success Academy and its chief, Eva Moskowitz, appear poised to shock the system again — offering both ­inspiration and rebuke.

Two months into the state lockdown, the network of 45 New York City schools serving 18,000 students is close to replicating itself remotely, with full days of instruction, professional development and planning meeti­ngs for staff. Principals are ­observing teachers giving online lessons.

In a matter of weeks, SA has converted itself into a functional digital school, eliminating none of its ambitious regimen of academics, internal assessments and progress monitoring — even as New York, like every state, has abandoned standardized testing for the year.