Achievement First Reviews

Updated April 15, 2015
54 reviews filtered by
  • Any Location
  • Any Job Title
3.4
54 Reviews
Rating Trends
Recommend to a friend
Approve of CEO
(no image)
CEO
0 Ratings

Pros
  • great professional development is offered regularly (in 10 reviews)

  • It attracts committed, smart, hard working people who share common values of making a real difference (in 3 reviews)

Cons
  • People work incredibly long hours: Work life balance is an issue (in 15 reviews)

  • You are not valued as an individual, but made to feel like a puppet, simply parroting what is dictated to you (in 3 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

Employee Reviews

Sort: Popular Rating Date
  1. Teacher, Kindergarten

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

    I have been working at Achievement First full-time (More than a year)

    Recommends
    Recommends

    Pros

    Highest paying charter school; very data driven; fun, young staff

    Cons

    70-75 hour work weeks; kids have lots of behavior issues; sort of like a military school

  2. Helpful (1)

    All Concept, No Follow-Through

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Middle School Teacher in Bridgeport, CT
    Former Employee - Middle School Teacher in Bridgeport, CT

    I worked at Achievement First full-time (Less than a year)

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook

    Pros

    You will work with a dedicated staff who want the best for these students. Upon being hired, you receive six weeks of intensive training on classroom management and beyond. This will prove to be beneficial when the students come, but in my experience it only gets you so far. It saddens me to say that if you were to implement your training at a school that didn't have a population of students that were extremely challenging to work with, it would prove to be very useful.

    Cons

    Unfortunately the school is all talk and no action. You will likely be seduced after conversations with administrators and your recruiter that lead you to believe they are carrying out a mission of excellence - taking children that (these are there words) have been at schools and in communities that have failed them and offering a chance for redemption.
    The problem with this is there is little to no responsibility placed on the children. They are not blamed for their actions, because AF believes they are victims of their surroundings. This does not lend well to teaching children to take ownership and control of their behavior.
    Disciplinary systems are in place - stringent ones that look great on paper. The problem is the administration doesn't follow through with their plan of action. Extreme disrespect of teachers (think: name calling, eye rolling, blatant defiance,) is met with a "stern talking to" from an administrator, if that. There was no loss of privileges for the student when I was there.
    There is a system where students can gain or lose points. Once they reach a certain point value, consequences are meant to be put into play. At AF Bridgeport Middle, the administration made the huge mistake of giving a "trial run" for the first week or so of school. Meaning, children could pretty much run amuck and it wasn't until the week after that they would receive consequences. That didn't set a good precedent.
    As the other reviews state, get ready to eat/sleep/breathe AF. I feel it is also necessary to add that out of the 12 new hires, I know of at least 7 that left within the first 2 months of school.

    Advice to Management

    No formal administrative degrees are required of principals or deans. Some are there simply because they've moved up the ranks. For example, our principal was a founding teacher at the school but was made principal after being there only five years. And again, with no formal administrative training from a university or the state.

  3. A teacher

    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

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

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook

    Pros

    I enjoy my time a lot great staff and students. This makes up for long hours. The school has mentors to help improve teaching.

    Cons

    Hard to balance work life with personal life. Sometimes the kids get out of hand but are overall good.

    Advice to Management

    Keep doing what you are doing the results show. If it ain't broke don't fix it.

  4. Is this helpful? The community relies on everyone sharing – Add Anonymous Review


  5. Teacher

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

    I worked at Achievement First full-time (More than a year)

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook

    Pros

    Great staff overall and everyone is a hard worker. Kids are wonderful too

    Cons

    There are long hours and a steep learning curve, but it's worth it.

    Advice to Management

    None as of now, I really enjoyed my time there.

  6. Great teachers and staff, poor morale and unsustainable workload.

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

    I have been working at Achievement First full-time (Less than a year)

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook

    Pros

    colleagues that are encouraging and supportive of the needs of other teachers and students.

    Cons

    long hours, little prep time, negative work culture among staff and students

    Advice to Management

    Listen to what teachers, parents and students are saying. When the majority are unhappy with school culture, politics, norms, etc then it is time to change.

  7. Helpful (2)

    Great co-workers, not so great hours/workload.

    Current Employee - Teacher In Residence
    Current Employee - Teacher In Residence

    I have been working at Achievement First full-time (Less than a year)

    Pros

    Great team, great kids, doing a lot of things right as a charter school.

    Cons

    Many of the people I know working there are very unhappy, and don't see their career as being long-term.

    Advice to Management

    Perhaps decreasing the amount of charter school 'propaganda' fed to new employees would be a start, but I think a lot of the problem has to do with the personality of the organization.

  8. Helpful (4)

    Very pleased I began my career at Achievement First; moving forward AF should hire fewer people like me.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Elementary School Teacher in Brooklyn, NY
    Former Employee - Elementary School Teacher in Brooklyn, NY

    I worked at Achievement First full-time (More than 3 years)

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook

    Pros

    People complain about work-life balance, but compared to other professions (lawyers, doctors, etc) Achievement First offers superior vacation time. Five weeks in summer; two weeks for Christmas; a week in Februray; another week in spring; most federal holidays. That's a lot of paid time off to pursue personal priorities. Hours are manageable. I worked around 50 hours per week.

    Co-workers are mostly smart and dedicated teachers. Same goes for students: 95% of our kids are wonderful, curious individuals who are interested in learning.

    Coaching and professional development model is also quite good. Any growth I have made as a teacher has come from weekly meetings with my mentor and professional development sessions.

    My school does not push out students who have severe behavioral challenges. It is good to work in a place that doesn't give up on difficult children, but it does come at a cost (see below).

    Arts enrichment is amazing. Our arts programs give struggling students a reason to come to school and an opportunity to feel successful.

    School leadership is dedicated to constantly improving the learning experience for students. As a result, the schools are not complacent.

    Cons

    5% of the student population at my school have severe behavioral issues, and frequently disrupt the classroom to the extent that it prevents the learning of others. A large amount of time and energy goes to supporting our most challenging kids. On the other hand, very little is done to provide extra enrichment for gifted and talented students.

    Hours are odd—especially if you have to commute. Starting the school day at 7:00 AM meant I had to wake up at 5:00 AM to catch the train.

    Staff has a high turnover rate, though this is getting better over time. (See below. )

    Advice to Management

    Be very selective about the people you hire. In short, you should stop hiring people like me: people who have no long-term interest in teaching. I don't think it's true that many teachers burn out while—the people I've seen move on from the classroom to pursue other high-stress careers. Instead, people leave because they never envisioned teaching for 30 years in the first place. Don't hire people who love children; hire people who want to make a career helping children overcome obstacles. This can be done by making interviews more challenging. Ask what plans prospective teachers would put into place to help a very challenging student. Try to hire teachers who earned a degree in education. Finally, limit your hires from Teach for America. Some will stay and be good teachers, but most have a eye on graduate school or a job in education policy before they even step into the classroom.

  9. Charter school network filled with talented teachers who are extremely committed to students

    • 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

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook

    Pros

    I absolutely love the people I work with - teachers, leaders, kids, and our families. Our leaders are really dedicated to the growth and development of each of us. All the teachers embody a sense of "team and family." These people are not just my co-workers, but also friends. We are so strategic in how we approach student learning,and always make decisions that have such a positive impact on kids.

    Cons

    I think that sustainability in a school is a huge challenge. I have no worked for three different schools, and this is just the nature of teaching. Having a work/life balance at AF is completely possible, but it has required me to prioritize and become incredibly efficient during the work day.

  10. Organization that's deeply committed, driven and reflective.

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

    I have been working at Achievement First full-time (More than a year)

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook

    Pros

    - Autonomy
    - Open Source - we're always willing to share everything we've learnt to help other partners excel in this work.
    - Developmental opportunities.
    - Incredible Manager - coach, mentor and supporter.
    - Co-workers - I've never worked with a team that's more on top of it than at AF. People are smart, driven, responsive and working together towards our goals. They are also genuine and I've been able to quickly create friendships at work - which only makes the work more fun.
    - Variety - no days are the same! Every day brings a new set of experiences and challenges.
    - Flexibility - management focus is on deliverables and outcomes not following a process/checking the box. There is flexibility in hours/work from home depending on your role.

    Cons

    - Any organization our age/size is bound to face scaling challenges: systems, processes, change management
    - Demanding work days, you need to set your own boundaries. Can be challenging when working with folks that are very committed. I've seen folks do it really well - others struggle to strike the balance.
    - We haven't found our sweet spot yet re:balancing urgency and being strategic/comprehensive in our planning

    Advice to Management

    Push the organization to pause more. Strategic/cross functional planning will help us achieve our goals at a efficient pace if we're willing to compromise on the urgency. Consider innovative approaches i.e. job sharing/remote employees as the workforce is changing.

  11. A values-driven, mission-driven organization full of incredibly talented people who work hard to do right by all kids.

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

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

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook

    Pros

    Achievement First is a organization that is constantly learning, reflecting and challenging itself to ensure we are delivering on the promise of an excellent education that we made to our kids and families. We have really smart, thoughtful people on the team. People are nice and value a sense of Team & Family. What I most appreciate about Achievement First is its willingness to take on the most vexing challenges, create a dialogue around them and move forward with efforts to address them.

    Cons

    Every organization has unique challenges and it is important for folks to know what most matters to them. Achievement First has a lot of strengths but it is working on changing the way we teach so that students are truly college ready. Our classrooms need to have students talking more and doing the thinking and that takes time to develop among teachers.

    Advice to Management

    The comments herein about sustainability could send the wrong message to potential employees and the organization should figure out how to engage their staff on this issue. It is complex, though, because we know the answer is not simply "do less." Books, seminars and careers are made on the topic of work-life balance and it seems that some folks think there is a simple solution, when in reality, it's really complex. The organization should find a way to talk about this issue, and engage folks so that there are productive conversations, not merely complaints.

Achievement First Photos

NY Offices
Pride Circle

+ Add Photo

Work at Achievement First? Share Your Experiences

Achievement First

 
Click to Rate
or

Your response will be removed from the review – this cannot be undone.