Charter schools can offer students the opportunity to learn in a smaller and more inclusive setting. Syracuse Academy of Science Director Tolga Hayali says his school gives students the chance to study for longer periods of time and have personalized learning plans. While Hayali is proud of the school’s ninety-eight percent graduation rate, he stresses that the goal of charter schools should not be to “beat” other districts but rather to celebrate every student’s success.
"The most important thing is when we graduate all the students, we are going to look at them and wish the best, so that they will come back and give back to the community. And once we can see that chain reaction, we can say 'wow' this is working, this is really working."
Some of Hayali’s goals include adding more college classes to the Academy’s curriculum and lengthening the school year.
The Stanford study shows charter schools have been making progress in both reading and math since the last study in 2009. Researcher Maggie Raymond says Upstate New York has good charter schools, but some are also missing the mark.
"It is the case that there are some high-performing schools in Upstate New York. What I would encourage parents in your communities to do is to make sure they kick the tires of the schools they're considering sending their child to."
Raymond says academics should be high on a parent’s list of priorities when choosing a school. Hayali, with the Academy of Science, admits change won’t happen overnight, but it starts with every charter school doing its absolute best to teach the students it serves.