Stories & Impact

SUNY Schools in the Spotlight
More Great Seats 4 Kids Newsletter: SUNY Charters Continue to Outperform District Schools

I love DATA. Perhaps, it’s my past life as a researcher, but I can’t get enough of hard, quantifiable evidence that tells a story – especially when it’s a story about you as charter leaders and how well you are doing your job to create more great seats for kids.

We’ve been digging through the data a lot these past few months and trying to see what new insights and stories they reveal. And to say we’ve been pleasantly surprised would be an understatement. For instance, take a look at this chart:

Region Subject SUNY proficiency District Comparison Statewide Averages Difference (school-district)
New York City ELA 62% 47% 45% 15 points
Long Island ELA 57% 27% 45% 30 points
Albany/Troy ELA 47% 25% 45% 22 points
Buffalo ELA 36% 25% 45% 11 points
Rochester ELA 35% 13% 45% 22 points
New York City Math 70% 46% 47% 24 points
Long Island Math 60% 26% 47% 34 points
Albany/Troy Math 50% 23% 47% 27 points
Rochester Math 43% 13% 47% 30 points
Buffalo Math 35% 21% 47% 14 points

Pretty impressive, right? SUNY schools from Buffalo to Long Island, within NYC’s five boroughs to New York’s Capital Region all significantly outperformed their local districts in the most recently available year of statewide data. And when I say significant, I mean significant. Just look at Rochester, where SUNY authorized posted a 43% proficiency rate in mathematics, more than tripling the district’s 13% average proficiency.

Much of this success has been driven by top performers. Consider Academy Charter School which outperformed its district of location in Long Island in ELA and Math, by 43 and 44 points respectively. Or, True North Rochester Preparatory – West Campus which outperformed its district by 34 and an incredible, incredible 49 points in ELA and Math. KIPP Tech Valley in Troy, New York meanwhile outpaced its district by 35 and 34 points. Stars. All of them.

But they aren’t alone. While we haven’t had credible state results since the start of the pandemic, we have seen schools everywhere across the state doing whatever it takes to continue to put students – and their achievement – as priority number one. We’ve tried to shine a spotlight on these schools wherever and whenever we can, including in this weekly email. Because we need to share their stories of resilience and adaptability and leadership – the SUNY difference – not just to other schools, but to the larger community. So, they can see what’s possible when you let strong school leaders do what they do best: educate.

Susie Miller Carello 

University Prep Charter School for Young Men helping students prepare for workforce

A unique program at a local charter school is helping students prepare for the workforce after graduation.

During the summer, University Preparatory Charter School for Young Men offers the opportunity for interested students to train and get some first hand experience working as an intern for a local company in their area of interest.

Those with the program say if a student doesn’t necessarily want to go to college that doesn’t mean they can’t build an excellent career.

“One of the problems we’re having in schools today is every kid is being pushed to go to college. This isn’t always the best track for every student. So we expand them into the trades, tech fields, that sort of thing. So we’re having a lot of success because a lot of kids don’t want to go to college but they feel they have nowhere else to go.” Len Morrell said.

Read the full story on RochesterFirst….

Tapestry Charter School is granted $250,000 to build Community Athletic Complex

The Buffalo Bills, through the National Football League Foundation Grassroots Program, has granted Tapestry Charter School with $250,000 so that the school can install a new synthetic turf field at its Community Track and Multi-Sport Athletic Complex in North Buffalo. The grant came from the Bills, the NFL Foundation, and Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC)…

Read full article on Buffalo Rising.

New charter school in Mount Vernon will be the first in a decade in Lower Hudson

Kenyah Miller, a lifelong Queens resident, had decided she would create a new charter school in a community that needed one.

And she would move her growing family to that community while taking on the project.

A committed proponent of charter school education, she set her sights on Mount Vernon.

“Mount Vernon was a place I could identify with,” she said. “I had friends and extended family there. It had to be a community where (a charter school) made sense, and a community that wanted it.”

Miller’s charter school, Intellectus Preparatory Charter School, was approved by the SUNY Board of Trustees last June and is scheduled to open in her new hometown of Mount Vernon this fall. The school will open with about 112 students in grades six and seven and will add a grade each year until it includes a full high school.

Read the full story on The Journal News…

SUNY charter schools outperform traditional public schools

Students at many SUNY-approved charter schools are vastly outperforming their counterparts in neighboring traditional public schools in New York City, a new analysis obtained by The Post reveals.

The analysis — which involved third- through eighth-graders —was conducted by the State University of New York’s Charter Schools Institute, one of two entities that approve charters in the state…

Read the full article on the NY Post.

Exploring the impact of Brooklyn Prospect charter schools

Brooklyn Prospect’s six schools use the curriculum of the International Baccalaureate Program leading to an IB degree. The liberal arts-focused curriculum promotes creative inquiry, problem-solving, critical thinking, personal reflection and collaborative learning and exceeds state standards.

Ward says the charter system is an important one in school choice.

“Our program focuses on providing our students with a well-rounded curriculum that includes ELA, Math but also Mandarin or Spanish language, Dance, musical theatre,” Ward said.

“We marry rigorous academics with deep care and focus on the social emotional environment our kids need to excel. Our non-selective, International Baccalaureate high school, was also recently named a NYS `Recognition School’ and ranked in the U.S. News & World Report.”

Regular instruction is supplemented with after-school programs…

Read the full article on the New York Post. 

Buffalo United Charter School works with trainer to improve behavior and motivate students

A Buffalo Charter School is trying a unique method to improve behavior in the classroom.

Buffalo United is working with resilience trainer Duncan Kirkwood to improve behavior and motivate students. One of their new strategies is to reward one student per month who demonstrates the most growth in behavior and academics.

Kirkwood says the pandemic has changed students, that they’ve been at home for so long, they have forgotten how to sit still in class.

Read the full story on WIVB…

The school that aspires to be a basketball factory – New York Times

From the moment Naimah Pearson heard there would be a new charter school in the Bronx focused on basketball, she wanted to go. She did not know much about Earl Monroe, the Hall of Fame player for whom the school is named, and was aware she would have a complicated, hourlong commute from the South Bronx to get there every day.

But a school centered on basketball, with a curriculum devoted to every aspect of the sport’s vast and growing ecosystem? That was surely for her, she told her parents. So she entered a lottery and won a spot in the first ninth-grade class at the Earl Monroe New Renaissance Basketball School, temporarily located in Pelham Bay.

Read the full story on the New York Times…

Icahn 3 Charter School Recognized with National Blue Ribbon
Three schools in the Bronx and Brooklyn were among the 325 recognized Blue Ribbon Schools for 2021.
According to the Department of Education, the recognition is “based on a school’s overall academic performance or progress in closing achievement gaps among student subgroups.”
Icahn Charter School 3 (Bronx), P.S. 249 Caton and The School for Future Leaders (Brooklyn) were among the 19 schools from New York on this year’s list.

Read full story on News 12 The Bronx…

Earl Monroe School in the Bronx designs academic curriculum around basketball

Earl Monroe New Renaissance School – a brand-new charter school in the Pelham Bay section of the Bronx, has a curriculum built entirely around basketball.

Watch the video on News 12 Bronx.

Rebuilding the Future: New Tech, New School, New Year at Amber Charter Schools

Heidi Hamilton is the Chief Real Estate, Facilities, & Legal Officer for Amber Charter Schools in New York City. She joins podcast host Andrew Southern on this episode of Redesigning Normal to talk about how her organization handled the pandemic and how they hope to move forward.

Heidi discusses several COVID prevention measures, including collaborating with an architect to configure the buildings for social distancing and securing private testing (free testing was not available to charter schools)…

Listen to the podcast

A Plan from the Heart: How Genesee Community Charter School Brings a Systematic Approach to Whole Child Education

Genesee Community Charter School, located on the campus of the Rochester Museum & Science Center in Rochester, New York, exists to help a diverse student body to develop intellectual rigor, respect for diversity, and a sense of responsibility to the community — but it doesn’t just happen. To nurture all students to be reflective questioners, articulate communicators, critical thinkers, and skilled problem solvers, the school takes a systematic approach that marries the science of learning and development with the staff’s heartfelt dedication to its students.

Read the full case study published by the National Center for Learning Disabilities. 

Brooklyn Emerging Leaders Academy sends first ever graduating class off to college

And the high school seniors are off! But not without some swag.

Brooklyn Emerging Leaders Academy (BELA) Charter School, an all-girls high school on Stuyvesant Avenue, held a “college shower” on Monday for their seniors, the first graduating class in the school’s history.

Read the story on

Tiempo: Entire senior class at International Leadership Charter High School accepted into college

Plus, the entire senior class at a high school in the Bronx got accepted into college.

Ninety percent of those students are Latino and so many of those students represent the first generation in their family to attend college.

The school, the International Leadership Charter High School, was one of the first re-open during the pandemic.

Joe talks to CEO Dr. Elaine Ruiz Lopez and senior students Joel Beltre and Briana Molina about how they persevered and their formula for success.

Watch the full interview at ABC 7 (starts at 11:54).

New Roots recognized nationally as Green Ribbon school

Ithaca’s New Roots Charter School has been deemed a Green Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education, celebrating its “school curriculum, culture and practices.” New Roots is one of just 33 schools chosen for the honor nationwide.

Read the full story on the Ithaca Voice.

Learning pods now helping vulnerable students at Ascend

“Like many New York City charter schools, Brooklyn’s Ascend network started off the year fully remote. But just a few months in, it became clear: Remote learning wasn’t working for certain students.

Attendance dipped, and teachers struggled to reach students at the network’s K-12 schools. Many of the children come from some of the poorest neighborhoods in Central Brooklyn, and some live in vulnerable housing situations. They needed a safe, supervised place for effective virtual schooling.

“We have students in transitional home situations, and we have students who really needed an optimal learning space,” said Ania-Lisa Etienne, a teacher at Brownsville Ascend Middle School, one of the charter’s 15 schools.

School leaders heard the feedback from teachers like Etienne, and by November decided to change tracks…”

Read the full story on Chalkbeat.