Achievement First

www.achievementfirst.org

Achievement First Reviews

Updated January 21, 2015
Updated January 21, 2015
41 Reviews
3.4
41 Reviews
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  1.  

    Challenging work, smart and hard-working colleagues

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at Achievement First full-time (more than 5 years)

    Pros

    I work in our network office. I love working at an organization where everyone around me is committed and hard-working. I feel like I can count on my colleagues to deliver great work and partner with me on tough projects. It is also great to be at an organization that is actively growing -- so many opportunities for new challenges and new roles. And I LOVE our mission and what we are delivering for kids, families, teachers and school leaders. I'm really excited to work with our teachers and leaders.

    Cons

    Sometimes the work can be tiring with a lot of meetings, and I wish I could be in our schools more often for the dose of inspiration.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
  2.  

    Happy to be on a great team with lots of flexibility

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in New Haven, CT
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in New Haven, CT

    I have been working at Achievement First full-time (more than an year)

    Pros

    The sheer number of really bright and really kind co-workers who are passionate about scholars
    Great immediate supervisor who encourages my individuality
    Opportunity to engage in important, strategic work
    Paid time off between Christmas Eve and New Year's Day!

    Cons

    "Whatever It Takes" culture is sometimes taken too literally
    Need more transparency around non-instructional career opportunities

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
  3. 2 people found this helpful  

    When will AF read all of these repetitive reviews and get the message?

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Teacher and Grade Level Leader
    Current Employee - Teacher and Grade Level Leader

    I have been working at Achievement First full-time (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    I work with the most amazing teachers ever. They are my best friends, incredible role models for me in my own practice, and my biggest supporters. Additionally, I love our children dearly and they are why I come to school every morning even though I cry on the way to school. Teaching is my calling and I'm happy to get to stand in front of my babies.

    Cons

    - I feel like a worse teacher than I was when I got here. I may have grown in terms of ability to lesson plan, but managing AF classes is far less effective than I was in a traditional public school.
    - Very little praise for what you're doing right and instead just pressure to grow more, do this, do that. No one says thank you. No one values your contributions. Teachers take the blame for absolutely everything.
    - Tons of red tape tasks every day and judgmental "feedback emails" if you don't complete. Every move I make is studied and tracked and then inevitably I have to follow up with in a GoogleDoc.
    - Leadership -- both school and network -- is trying to stomp out individuality and make us into monkey teachers. They don't care what you bring to the table as a teacher or a person. They only care how well they can mold you into the "Teach Like A Champion" follow our strategies teacher. I wish I could make choices for my own classroom. I feel like I'm so easily replaceable. When I leave, they'll find someone else who can stomach the endless behavior narration drills.
    - It feels like someone somewhere is serving Kool-Aid and all school leaders drink it. Do they really believe this stuff? Or have they just been at AF for so long that they're brainwashed?
    - Forced to uphold ridiculous standards that kids and parents hate. Then you get yelled at by said kids and parents for upholding the standards. Ruins relationships.
    - I love my children but I feel so desperately bad because they hate school. They hate learning. They see is as a prison. They're forced to sit at their desk all day because we can't let them be kids and move and make noise and make mistakes. Instead we have to plan every second of their day and require them to be silent at all times. Every moment is supposed to be a rigorous academic experience. We don't trust our children just like leadership doesn't trust teachers and so our kids hate school. We're doing them such a disservice. They have no agency, independence, compassion, kindness because we don't give them the skills and the space to learn.
    - Every professional development hour must be used. Even if it means being forced to sit in sessions at lunch or sit through the 3rd or 4th PD on the same topic. There's absolutely no differentiated PD so if you're beyond your first two years teaching like I am, it's incredibly frustrating and holds you back from growing.
    - As every single review has mentioned, horrible work life balance. I arrive at school every single day at 6:15 (often because I have meetings before 7AM) and stay until 8-9 to keep up.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    School Leadership: listen to the critiques of your teachers and support staff. Ask for their input because everyone is holding back for fear of being judges and further belittled. Stop pressuring people and driving out talent, that way you can retain the incredible teachers in our building. Our kids deserve incredible teachers. Stop driving them out with insane expectations and one size fits all teaching. And lose all of the trackers and the follow up feedback emails, good heavens! Stop feeding people mumbo jumbo. Just be honest about what's happening.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
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  5.  

    Stressful at times, but I consider myself lucky to work at Achievement First.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Brooklyn, NY
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Brooklyn, NY

    I have been working at Achievement First full-time

    Pros

    I work in Network Support and I agree that the fast pace and incredible sense of urgency makes the job overwhelming at times; however, there are a great number of positives. My direct manager is one of the kindest, smartest, and most caring people I've ever met. My personal AND professional goals are valued. Everyone I've met has been nothing but supportive and encouraging -- this sort of culture is valued highly at AF. There is a lenient work from home policy, which is terrific if you have a long commute like I do. AF also provides a lot of opportunities to get involved with student events, activities, and rallies outside of work. Every Network Support employee is given a laptop and cell phone. Most importantly, I feel like I'm doing meaningful, important work. Really competitive compensation, great benefits, and a long holiday break! Can't ask for more than that. Finally, the team's passion and drive to achieve the MISSION is incredibly inspiring to witness every day.

    Cons

    Due to the nature of the work, you will find that you work long days more often than not. Personally, this doesn't bother me as much but I know this is a make or break for some people. What's toughest for me is the inability to really be able to unplug after hours. You'll find that you're working even when you're not working. The organization also tends to switch gears in terms of priorities/strategies pretty quickly which can be frustrating and confusing. Finally, depending on your team, you'll find that you'll be traveling much more than you anticipated. Though it's fun to visit other schools in other states, the amount of travel does take a physical and emotional toll after while.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    I echo what other folks have already said: allow for more work-life balance! Be more up front about the percentage of time spent traveling when advertising for positions so it doesn't take so many people by surprise.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
  6.  

    Bad for Kids and Teachers

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I worked at Achievement First

    Pros

    Many of the teachers are wonderful people; the kids are delightful. I made a lot of friends working here.

    Cons

    The work-life balance, as mentioned in practically every review is abysmal. Worse: teachers are not trusted and treated like interchangeable "McTeachers". The "positive" reviews don't ring true, to be honest. Sounds like PR statements rather than genuine reviews. In reality, teachers here are typically at work by 6:30am and leave at 8:00pm. Teachers cry in the bathrooms over the stresses and constant criticism. Teacher turn over is very high and creates crisis situations in most AF schools every year. Since this has been addressed a lot, I think that management knows they burn teachers out. It seems like a strategy to keep costs (teacher salaries) low. The "no excuses" discipline system is awful for the kids. The focus is always on "punishments" or "rewards". Never on doing the right thing just because that's what the person you are. Kids get punished so much, they began to lie to avoid punishment; watching them turn into kids who lie because of the system they were under was awful.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    If you really do care about kids, please realize that experience and stability matter. It's better to have a 10 year veteran teacher who works 40 hours a week than a first year teacher working 90 hours a week. The kids know that they're steppingstones. They cry every year when their teachers leave. Start actually listening to your teachers. Your stakeholders are the kids and your teachers -- not your big fundraisers. Have a conscious.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
  7. 3 people found this helpful  

    Horrible work-life balance and horrible place for students!

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous
    Current Employee - Anonymous

    I have been working at Achievement First

    Pros

    direct coaching, great fellow teachers (who are overworked)

    Cons

    This review is specific to Amistad Academy Middle School--not sure if all AF schools are this hellish. They expect you to put in 100+ hours per week and arrive to school with energy and a smile. And you are forced to give the children deductions for the smallest most ridiculous things. On an average day, more than half of my 5th graders were in detention for minimal misbehaviors (it's so easy to earn 4 deductions in the 5+ classes they have in a day and land in detention)! One of the fellow teachers was actually reprimanded for giving too many "credits" when she was trying to make her classroom a positive space by giving less deductions and more credits for positive behavior. The administration's lack of respect for their staff's personal time is also ridiculous! Emails and calendar invites coming in after midnight, calls on weekends: they have zero respect for what little personal time you are spared out of school. Then for new teachers, they made us stay AFTER SCHOOL to attend "culture club" where you basically practiced precise directions (even if you had precise directions down to a science already), expecting these "teacher moves" to magically solve the horrible school culture that is a direct result of the students' lack of respect for the deduction system. In my school alone, they lost 5 teachers in the first 3 months, and yet they changed none of the policies. Working at a place like this is neither healthy nor sustainable! Stay far, far away!

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Be more respectful of your's staff's outcries for a better work-life balance and stop piling on busy work which show no results.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
  8.  

    An important job but not a lifetime career

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Teacher
    Current Employee - Teacher

    I have been working at Achievement First

    Pros

    Nice, smart people and feeling of team and family at work with people who care
    A true sense of purpose at work / Meaningful work
    Great resources, PD's and good budget for materials/field trips/books
    Great salary and raises / Great health benefits / Retirement plan is average

    Cons

    Micromanaged in the classroom
    Limited room for growth unless you want to become an academic dean
    Teachers with years of experience are given the same type of feedback and advice as first year teachers (usually revolving around behavior management and rarely content related)
    Leadership team makes the decision - teachers follow. Limited decision making ability from the staff even though teachers constantly fill out surveys to share what they think/feel.

  9.  

    Impactful ed reform work

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in New York, NY
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in New York, NY

    I have been working at Achievement First full-time (more than an year)

    Pros

    AF has a team of some of the smartest, most committed individuals I've experienced in my career (which has been in social justice/ed reform work in its entirety). Though the pace is fast and the urgency undercuts all work, I feel that my personal priorities are respected and that there is tremendous room for growth and development.

    Cons

    Because we are doing real work on daily basis on behalf of kids, some staff can feel overwhelmed at times. I think a reframe of expectations across the ed reform movement focused on student culture rather than adult culture is required -- this is service work, and AF is leading the charge.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
  10. 3 people found this helpful  

    Teacher

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I worked at Achievement First

    Pros

    Great benefits .Teachers have unlimited resources.

    Cons

    Everything !!! As a teacher I am not allow to think for my self.Everything is scripted for you. How can I encourage thinking out the box to my students if I am not allowed to.

    Doesn't Recommend
  11. 1 person found this helpful  

    A remarkable, challenging organization

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Director
    Current Employee - Director

    I have been working at Achievement First full-time (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    Incredibly smart & mission driven people work at AF. My job is at network support, which is more of a regular office environment. We're slowly but surely building a strong organizational culture. Very inspirational leaders. Very competitive pay for non-profit sector.

    Cons

    AF has so much turnover, and the world of education is changing so fast, that the organization is in a constant state of crisis. The leaders are more comfortable rallying the troops to rise to these crises than they are setting up systems to actually work smarter not harder. Hence the turnover.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Consider the value-add of new initiatives more carefully - they're helpful when you're selling yourself to foundations, but they have a tendency to make everyone's life more complicated, rather than delivering results.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook

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