Charter Schools Helping to Close Harlem’s Achievement Gap

Mar 14, 2023 2:00:00 PM


In a New York City school district where a majority of children attend charter schools, those schools serve a larger share of disadvantaged kids and are closing academic achievement gaps.

According to a white paper produced by New York’s City’s Success Academy,  the charters in the Harlem section of Manhattan have led to higher per pupil spending for traditional public schools, while also narrowing the achievement gap between Harlem’s public school students and the average New York State student.

In New York’s Community School School District 5 (Harlem), a majority of its public school students attend charter schools. Overall, nearly 60% attend charter schools. That figure increases to 65% in grades K-8.

According to Success Academy’s white paper:

  • Harlem’s charter schools educate a higher percentage of economically disadvantaged students than its district schools (87% vs. 82%) and a higher percentage of Black and Latino students (94% vs. 85%).

  • In 2005, the year before Harlem Success Academy Charter School opened, charter schools educated only six percent of Harlem’s public school students, and student achievement in Harlem lagged far behind state averages: by 25 points in math and 22 points in reading. Those gaps have declined by three points in math and six points in reading.
  • Despite decreases in enrollment, Harlem’s district schools have not been harmed financially — and have benefitted from smaller class sizes.

Read the entire white paper.

Photo courtesy Success Academy Charter Schools.

Mark R. Lowery

Mark R. Lowery was formerly managing editor of Ed Post. He is a veteran journalist who has managed national magazines and worked for major newspapers, including New York Newsday, the Detroit Free Press and the Plain Dealer. He previously served as editorial director of October Research.

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