Q: Is The New American Academy a charter school?
A: No, The New American Academy is a school model that could be run in a number of settings, including public, private, or charter. Our flagship school is a NYC Department of Education district school in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, while our 2nd school is a NYSED authorized charter school in East Flatbush, Brooklyn.
Q: How do I bring The New American Academy to my school or district?
A: The New American Academy is currently exploring partnerships both inside and outside the New York City area. If you are interested in learning more, please contact Director of Development Yehudi Meshchaninov at firstname.lastname@example.org
Q: Is The New American Academy only for elementary school?
A: While the principles of transparency, empowerment, collaboration, and reflection are essential to education at any level, we have only developed the model in an elementary school setting at this point. We are currently exploring expansion into middle and high school settings.
Q: When and where was The New American Academy developed?
A: The New American Academy model was developed at the Harvard Graduate School of Education by the nineteenth cohort of the Urban Superintendent Program under the guidance of Professor Richard Elmore. It was brought to the New York City public school system by a member of this cohort, Shimon Waronker, during his time as Chancellor’s Intern under Joel Klein.
Q: How is The New American Academy funded?
A: Both P.S 770 (our flagship school) and TNAACS (charter school) operate on the standard New York Department of Education public school budget. The initial development of The New American Academy was underwritten by a combination of public and private funds, including a $250,000 grant from the New York City Department of Education. We are looking for public and private partners to support the continued development and scale of the model.
Q: How is a model that pays teachers 38% more and has a 15:1 student-teacher ratio affordable or sustainable?
A: The New American Academy model operates on the same per-pupil budget allocation as any other public school. By streamlining administration and investing school resources directly in the classroom, the model eliminates overhead and uses each dollar more efficiently and effectively.
Q: What data confirms The New American Academy’s success?
A: The New American Academy's pilot school is currently in its third operating year. Education professionals including university professors, state and city officials, and union leaders have observed our classrooms and been impressed by our levels of student and parent engagement, high teacher morale, and rigorous pedagogy.
With regards to quantitative data, we are using a number of summative as well as formative measures to follow student progress, including TerraNova exams and Fountas and Pinnell. Next year, our third grade class will take state standardized exams like any other public school. Early results are promising, but it will take some time to build a sample size that will give us definitive data.
In addition, each aspect of The New American Academy model, including looping, teaching teams, master teachers, career ladders, etc, is research-based and being used successfully in classrooms around the world.
Q: Aren’t large open classrooms noisy and chaotic?
A: This is one of the most common questions we receive, and visitors are often surprised by the low noise level in our classrooms. Our warm and happy classrooms are the result of careful planning, strong culture, and established rules and routines. Our mandatory five-week summer training provides each teaching team with the time and support to develop cohesive rules, communication practices, routines, and expectations for their learning community.
Q: Does the model depend on a large open classroom?
A: Not necessarily. While a common open environment is conducive to the transparency, communication and collaboration our model values, we believe that the model can work in other environments.
Q: Is the model scalable?
A: Yes. Each element of our program, including our rigorous hiring process, mandatory five-week summer training program, looped teaching teams, embedded master teachers, career ladder, and teacher evaluation framework, was designed to be replicable and scalable. Based on our experience implementing this theoretical model in our pilot location, The New American Academy is poised to partner with school districts and unions to deploy the model in their communities.
Q: Is there a TNAA curriculum that all classrooms follow?
A: No. The New American Academy classrooms do not follow any one particular curriculum. The model’s collaborative daily ninety minute meetings, teaching teams, embedded master teacher, and looping allow each team to create a curricular plan the best meet the needs of their classroom. This flexibility and freedom ensures that each child receives customized and targeted instruction.
Q: Is student-centered learning appropriate for all environments and populations?
A: Student centered learning builds voice and provides students with the critical thinking and collaborative skills they need to succeed in the 21st century. It is a tragedy that programs that build student voice are not available to children in many disadvantaged communities. We believe that all children deserve a top quality education, and that our students will thrive in an environment with high expectations.
Q: Does The New American Academy service students with special needs?
A: Yes. The New American Academy is an inclusion model, and at a minimum, one member of each four person teaching team is a certified special education teacher. Our four person teaching teams allow for unprecedented levels of differentiation, and all students are given targeted instruction for their level.
However, students with sensory issues or more serious needs may have trouble having their needs met in an inclusion setting, and may require a smaller self-contained special education classroom.
Q: Why do The New American Academy teachers loop with their classes?
A: We believe that good teaching is predicated on good relationships between students, teachers, and families. Looping allows each teaching team to build long-lasting relationships with their students that deepen each year. The stability and continuity of these relationships form the basis of our students' emotional and academic development. Teachers have an intimate knowledge of each student's needs and interests, eliminating the "get-to-know-you" period each fall and allowing for truly personalized teaching. Moreover, teaching the full continuum of elementary school allows each teacher to fully understand the sequence of learning each child experiences in these grades. Considering that student ability levels often range within one classroom, a broad knowledge of curriculum is essential to meet each student's needs.
Q: Why is TNAA based around a four person teacher team?
A: The New American Academy aims to professionalize teaching. Professionals across industries (business, medicine, military) recognize the value of collaboration and teamwork. Research by Harvard University has shown the ideal number of participants in an effective team is four or five. TNAA's four person teacher teams come to the classroom with diverse experience from kindergarten to college classrooms across all subject. Teachers are grouped with particular attention to matching complementary strengths and personalities.
Last updated January 14, 2013