Achievement Prep FAQ

All answers shown come directly from Achievement Prep Reviews and are not edited or altered.

14 English questions out of 14

January 8, 2020

How are senior leaders perceived at Achievement Prep?

Pros

The people here are amazing! Peer to peer interactions are mostly positive and it’s a great place to share a laugh with your coworkers. Easy to build many meaningful personal relationships with co workers. The children are pure magic. Loved them to pieces. They will teach you more more about yourself than you can teach them. Lots of breaks during the school year. Nice facilities, inviting atmosphere.

Cons

Management can be unpleasant with staff potentially because they are overwhelmed with the amount of work required of them. Teachers feel smothered and “watched” by management. Overwhelming amounts of meetings and “collaborative” planning. Collaboration is often used to discuss schools data as a whole instead of for relevant planning at the grade level or with your co-teacher. Leadership turnaround is very quick instructional coaches who are assigned to you may quit mid-year, that work load is divided among the coaches that are left and they can’t manage so some teachers lack coaching for the remainder of the year. (depending on who your coach was this might be a pro).

Advice to Management

Be kinder to the people who are doing the work from day to day. The staff who is working tirelessly not just to keep the school open, but to make sure it’s thriving, deserves to feel respected.

Leadership turnaround is very quick instructional coaches who are assigned to you may quit mid

January 8, 2020

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July 18, 2020

What kind of career opportunities exist at Achievement Prep?

Pros

Read each of these very carefully because for each pro listed, there is also a very big con. While Achievement Prep may look good on the outside with their promises of leading three-generational work, closing achievement gaps, and preparing students to excel as high achieving scholars and leaders in high school college and beyond, how they try to accomplish these things is actually doing a disservice to children. 1. Summer Institute: a carefully, strategically planned training program to prepare new and returning staff 2. Data-driven: guides teachers through analyzing data, leadership bases all decisions on data, uses data to try to obtain a Tier 1 status and good PMF. 3. Small Group Instruction: time to focus on certain skills that scholars need to improve. 4. Classroom management: makes sure teachers are well-versed in “Teach Like a Champion” strategies 5. Planning Time/Collaborative planning time: you are granted about 90 minutes or so of planning a day, and collaborative planning is a time for teachers to work together while planning lessons and gathering materials 6. Special Education: inclusive classroom model where scholars with IEPs are included in the general education classroom 7. Leadership Opportunities: opportunities to become grade level leads, committee chairs, and other roles as needed

Cons

1. Summer Institute: Back to back to back info sessions from 7:30 - 5 PM everyday with very minimal work time to actually dive into the curriculum and materials in order to be fully prepared for scholars. This time is masked “as a way to help teachers and staff become better educators” when it is really just a time for leadership to see who is on board with the Achievement Prep Way and who is not. Make sure you appear to be on board with their ways or you could quickly and easily be cut before the year has even begun. 2. Data Driven: You will constantly be reminded that every decision is grounded in the data. They teach you how to analyze data from multiple sources (exit tickets, quiz data, i-Ready, NWEA Map, PowerSchool, anecdotal data, and more), but there is never time to utilize this data to implement changes that would improve scholar understanding and growth. You will be asked how you are responding to the data (from every source) and what steps you took to improve scholar mastery, while simultaneously being told that you can not adjust your pacing from the pacing guide created by leadership or re-teach lessons if there are scholar misconceptions. You will analyze NWEA MAP data to make sure that your class/grade is hitting the targeted goals that will help the school achieve Tier 1 status, and you will only focus on skills that make your class closer to that goal. 3. Small Group Instruction: After analyzing the NWEA MAP data, you will put your class into small groups for math or literacy rotations. You are assigned 6ish cusper scholars. These cuspers are the scholars that show the most promise in helping your class reach the “magical goal” that will push the school to Tier 1. Everything that you plan and teach during small group instruction is based around these 6ish scholars. Think about that. DO you have scholars who are two or more grade levels behind? Oh well, they aren’t going to come close to that “magical goal” and help the school reach Tier 1 status, so don’t focus on them. Do you have scholars who are ahead of the curve? Again, don’t spend too much time with them, they’ll be fine with hitting their targets. The goal should be to close achievement gaps...but this only means for those scholars who will help the school reach Tier 1 status. Ultimately, the school could achieve a Tier 1 status, but you could still have a good percentage of your class that is 1 - 2 grade levels behind in reading and math. Do you want to contribute to this disservice? 4. Classroom Management: The “Teach Like a Champion” strategies that APA teaches staff to use are very helpful in the classroom, but they don’t prepare you for the egregious behaviors that occur - throwing pencils/laptops, swinging pencil sharpeners, tossing over desks, destroying classroom libraries, calling scholars and teachers obscenities, hitting other scholars and teachers, the list goes on. Also, you will be observed by a very large group of 6+ plus leaders in your classroom several times a month, and they are looking to see that you are using these TLAC strategies while also counting how many of your scholars are on task (keep in mind, most scholars are distracted by the amount of people that show up mid-lesson). How does leadership define “on task behavior?” The scholars must be sitting in “scholar position” with their hands folded on their desk and both feet on the floor. If you have scholars who are engaged, but are not sitting exactly right, they will say that you didn’t have all your scholars on task. When being observed for classroom management, they are solely focused on compliance from scholars. They are very militant in the way that they want classrooms to be managed. If things escalate and you need support from a Dean, you may not get help at all or the scholars will be removed for a few minutes and immediately returned. There is no tier system for consequences and the Deans often become more of a reward than a consequence. 5. Collaborative Planning Time: You have two planning blocks. One in the morning and one in the afternoon each day. These times can be taken up by various meetings, so you may have little to no planning time. Collaborative planning time on Wednesday’s is marketed to teachers as a way to work together with your teammates to ensure you have cohesive lessons and a common understanding of the curriculum. What this really means is that the whole staff has to sit in the same room where you are watched while you are working. You are not granted the freedom to go work with your team in your classroom where your materials are. Also, depending how scholars are performing on NWEA MAP, the school leaders may make the decision to have all teachers meet during their afternoon planning times to plan all together with their content teams and their manager. This means that you can not plan independently in your room or office space, and you must sacrifice your lunch time to solely plan for small group instruction. If you already have your small group rotations planned for the week, it doesn’t matter. You are not allowed to grade, make copies, prepare materials, internalize lessons, etc. so all of this must be done outside of school hours. 6. Special Education: During Summer Institute, there are several sessions on the importance of special education services and early intervention. However, as soon as the school year starts, it’s like special education is forgotten. The process for referring a scholar to the special education team is very lengthy. Even with data, referral forms, etc. it may take months to even get a scholar observed. Many scholars’ IEPs are not upheld with fidelity - some that require dedicated aides don’t have them or they may not receive the proper amount of push in or pull out hours. Because APA has an inclusive model you may have scholars in your room whose disabilities manifest in a way that can be traumatizing or even dangerous for the other children and adults in the room. Teachers are not trained in how to deal with these types of behaviors, and rarely get help unless they advocate relentlessly to make the classroom a safe and conducive learning environment. 7. Leadership Opportunities: Achievement Prep will entice teachers with the opportunity to step up and become a leader in the organization. This can look like becoming a grade level lead, volunteering as a committee chair, sitting on the principal's council, or taking on extra roles and responsibilities with events. Beware when taking on these “leadership” opportunities because it is just a way for the leadership team to pawn off their extra, unwanted tasks onto the teachers. While all of these roles are voluntary, some of them come with contracted stipends. This past year, all of the teachers who stepped up and took on these leadership roles with stipends were told that they would not be receiving their promised money, yet they were still performing tasks associated with the role.

7. Leadership Opportunities: opportunities to become grade level leads, committee chairs, and other roles as needed

July 18, 2020

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July 18, 2020

How is management perceived at Achievement Prep?

Pros

Read each of these very carefully because for each pro listed, there is also a very big con. While Achievement Prep may look good on the outside with their promises of leading three-generational work, closing achievement gaps, and preparing students to excel as high achieving scholars and leaders in high school college and beyond, how they try to accomplish these things is actually doing a disservice to children. 1. Summer Institute: a carefully, strategically planned training program to prepare new and returning staff 2. Data-driven: guides teachers through analyzing data, leadership bases all decisions on data, uses data to try to obtain a Tier 1 status and good PMF. 3. Small Group Instruction: time to focus on certain skills that scholars need to improve. 4. Classroom management: makes sure teachers are well-versed in “Teach Like a Champion” strategies 5. Planning Time/Collaborative planning time: you are granted about 90 minutes or so of planning a day, and collaborative planning is a time for teachers to work together while planning lessons and gathering materials 6. Special Education: inclusive classroom model where scholars with IEPs are included in the general education classroom 7. Leadership Opportunities: opportunities to become grade level leads, committee chairs, and other roles as needed

Cons

1. Summer Institute: Back to back to back info sessions from 7:30 - 5 PM everyday with very minimal work time to actually dive into the curriculum and materials in order to be fully prepared for scholars. This time is masked “as a way to help teachers and staff become better educators” when it is really just a time for leadership to see who is on board with the Achievement Prep Way and who is not. Make sure you appear to be on board with their ways or you could quickly and easily be cut before the year has even begun. 2. Data Driven: You will constantly be reminded that every decision is grounded in the data. They teach you how to analyze data from multiple sources (exit tickets, quiz data, i-Ready, NWEA Map, PowerSchool, anecdotal data, and more), but there is never time to utilize this data to implement changes that would improve scholar understanding and growth. You will be asked how you are responding to the data (from every source) and what steps you took to improve scholar mastery, while simultaneously being told that you can not adjust your pacing from the pacing guide created by leadership or re-teach lessons if there are scholar misconceptions. You will analyze NWEA MAP data to make sure that your class/grade is hitting the targeted goals that will help the school achieve Tier 1 status, and you will only focus on skills that make your class closer to that goal. 3. Small Group Instruction: After analyzing the NWEA MAP data, you will put your class into small groups for math or literacy rotations. You are assigned 6ish cusper scholars. These cuspers are the scholars that show the most promise in helping your class reach the “magical goal” that will push the school to Tier 1. Everything that you plan and teach during small group instruction is based around these 6ish scholars. Think about that. DO you have scholars who are two or more grade levels behind? Oh well, they aren’t going to come close to that “magical goal” and help the school reach Tier 1 status, so don’t focus on them. Do you have scholars who are ahead of the curve? Again, don’t spend too much time with them, they’ll be fine with hitting their targets. The goal should be to close achievement gaps...but this only means for those scholars who will help the school reach Tier 1 status. Ultimately, the school could achieve a Tier 1 status, but you could still have a good percentage of your class that is 1 - 2 grade levels behind in reading and math. Do you want to contribute to this disservice? 4. Classroom Management: The “Teach Like a Champion” strategies that APA teaches staff to use are very helpful in the classroom, but they don’t prepare you for the egregious behaviors that occur - throwing pencils/laptops, swinging pencil sharpeners, tossing over desks, destroying classroom libraries, calling scholars and teachers obscenities, hitting other scholars and teachers, the list goes on. Also, you will be observed by a very large group of 6+ plus leaders in your classroom several times a month, and they are looking to see that you are using these TLAC strategies while also counting how many of your scholars are on task (keep in mind, most scholars are distracted by the amount of people that show up mid-lesson). How does leadership define “on task behavior?” The scholars must be sitting in “scholar position” with their hands folded on their desk and both feet on the floor. If you have scholars who are engaged, but are not sitting exactly right, they will say that you didn’t have all your scholars on task. When being observed for classroom management, they are solely focused on compliance from scholars. They are very militant in the way that they want classrooms to be managed. If things escalate and you need support from a Dean, you may not get help at all or the scholars will be removed for a few minutes and immediately returned. There is no tier system for consequences and the Deans often become more of a reward than a consequence. 5. Collaborative Planning Time: You have two planning blocks. One in the morning and one in the afternoon each day. These times can be taken up by various meetings, so you may have little to no planning time. Collaborative planning time on Wednesday’s is marketed to teachers as a way to work together with your teammates to ensure you have cohesive lessons and a common understanding of the curriculum. What this really means is that the whole staff has to sit in the same room where you are watched while you are working. You are not granted the freedom to go work with your team in your classroom where your materials are. Also, depending how scholars are performing on NWEA MAP, the school leaders may make the decision to have all teachers meet during their afternoon planning times to plan all together with their content teams and their manager. This means that you can not plan independently in your room or office space, and you must sacrifice your lunch time to solely plan for small group instruction. If you already have your small group rotations planned for the week, it doesn’t matter. You are not allowed to grade, make copies, prepare materials, internalize lessons, etc. so all of this must be done outside of school hours. 6. Special Education: During Summer Institute, there are several sessions on the importance of special education services and early intervention. However, as soon as the school year starts, it’s like special education is forgotten. The process for referring a scholar to the special education team is very lengthy. Even with data, referral forms, etc. it may take months to even get a scholar observed. Many scholars’ IEPs are not upheld with fidelity - some that require dedicated aides don’t have them or they may not receive the proper amount of push in or pull out hours. Because APA has an inclusive model you may have scholars in your room whose disabilities manifest in a way that can be traumatizing or even dangerous for the other children and adults in the room. Teachers are not trained in how to deal with these types of behaviors, and rarely get help unless they advocate relentlessly to make the classroom a safe and conducive learning environment. 7. Leadership Opportunities: Achievement Prep will entice teachers with the opportunity to step up and become a leader in the organization. This can look like becoming a grade level lead, volunteering as a committee chair, sitting on the principal's council, or taking on extra roles and responsibilities with events. Beware when taking on these “leadership” opportunities because it is just a way for the leadership team to pawn off their extra, unwanted tasks onto the teachers. While all of these roles are voluntary, some of them come with contracted stipends. This past year, all of the teachers who stepped up and took on these leadership roles with stipends were told that they would not be receiving their promised money, yet they were still performing tasks associated with the role.

When being observed for classroom management, they are solely focused on compliance from scholars.

July 18, 2020

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May 29, 2019

Is Achievement Prep a good company to work for?

Pros

Strong teachers and leaders and a great climate.

Cons

No cons as of now!

No cons as of now!

May 29, 2019

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June 30, 2020

What is the company culture at Achievement Prep?

Pros

Achievement Prep has some of the most committed folks that I've ever worked with. "Ride or die" leaders and teachers who would do almost anything to support children and each other. With about $12 million in the bank (public info), APrep clearly has the cash available to do some truly incredible things and typically didn't lack any necessary supplies or resources for staff. Interestingly enough, Achievement Prep has done an amazing job of building an incredibly strong culture amongst staff and families - too bad it's the wrong culture.

Cons

The culture is completely toxic at the top and it spews across every function of the organization. A culture where leaders are expected to basically burn themselves out all summer, working around the clock to internalize the "Achievement Prep Way" while hiring staff, planning for summer institute, planning for the school year, and putting on a huge smile every day to huddle up and chant about how great Achievement Prep used to be a decade ago. This is a culture where folks go into work every day 100% committed to doing a great job, but 100% unsure if that's the day that they'll get fired or if it's the day that they'll have to go fire someone else even though, as their manager, they disagree. Why would you fire someone from your team when you don't actually want to? Because no matter what your position is - Chief, Director, Principal - you never truly have a say. Whatever the CEO says, is what goes - good, bad, or otherwise. She's heard and read it all before, Shantelle is the problem. There is no question in the minds of staff, myself include, the community, parents, or even students (former and current). Again, Shantelle is the problem. The issue stemming from the infamous Founder and CEO, is that she somehow has the board in her back pocket and they refuse to step and and do what's right - remove her. This network, now single school, has gone from good to great, to bad, to down right ugly. What's truly sad is that it never had to be that way. Shantelle refuses to get out of her own way and allow the intelligent, experienced and knowledgeable people around her do their jobs and turn Achievement Prep around and it's so sad. APrep could be a pillar within the DC charter movement but Shantelle would rather let it crash and burn than relinquish any type of control and just trust her team.

Advice to Management

If by "management", you mean the board, my advice is to remove Shantelle as CEO. Her presence is the cancer killing Achievement Prep. If she remains in charge, there's no way that the organization will survive. That should be more than obvious at this point.

The culture is completely toxic at the top and it spews across every function of the organization.

June 30, 2020

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14 English questions out of 14