Achievement First Reviews | Glassdoor

Achievement First Reviews

Updated May 17, 2017
211 reviews

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Full-time Part-time

3.7
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Achievement First Co-CEO and President and Co-CEO and Superintendent Dacia Toll and Doug McCurry
Dacia Toll and Doug McCurry
75 Ratings

211 Employee Reviews

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Pros
Cons
  • There is very little work-life balance (in 60 reviews)

  • Long hours- generally deemed as necessary because the push to close the achievement gap is daunting (in 34 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

  1. Helpful (1)

    "Teacher"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Teacher in Providence, RI
    Current Employee - Teacher in Providence, RI
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

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

    Pros

    Organization. support, areas of growth, friendliness, communication

    Cons

    At this time I do not know of or think of any negatives to working at this school.


  2. Helpful (1)

    "Elementary Teacher"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Teacher, Elementary School in Brooklyn, NY
    Current Employee - Teacher, Elementary School in Brooklyn, NY
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

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

    Pros

    Achievement First is a great organization. Our schools are satellites, of a larger network, which creates an overarching mission of achievement in NYC , CT and RI. The curriculum is well-aligned to the Common Core standards and teachers receive extreme support with lesson planning, instruction and classroom culture.

    Cons

    The work hours and load are tough the first couple of years. Teachers need to be proactive and utilize the structures in place, to support and facilitate their development.


  3. Helpful (3)

    "Middle School Math Teacher"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Brooklyn, NY
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Brooklyn, NY
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Achievement First full-time

    Pros

    Strong adult culture. Schools are actually closing the achievement gap in Brooklyn.

    Cons

    As a veteran teacher, the work life balance is reasonable. However, some newer teachers at my school feel overwhelmed. They do receive lots of support to help out with finding the balance best for them.


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  5. Helpful (2)

    "Positive Culture"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Teacher in Brooklyn, NY
    Current Employee - Teacher in Brooklyn, NY
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

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

    Pros

    AF has an extremely positive culture to work in. Both teachers and students are highly appreciated and the entire school embodies a growth mindset with a coaching system that allows all staff to grow. This June will mark the end of my first year at AF and I feel I have made the equivalent of at least two years of growth in my first year here.

    Cons

    The hours are long and demanding. Teachers who are by themselves in the classroom are expected to do just as much as teachers in a co-teaching environment, and this can at times be difficult. Due to the rigorous schedule, scholars do not always have time to ask questions about the content.

    Advice to Management

    Since we have longer hours than other schools, it seems like it would be beneficial to use more of that time to allow scholars to ask questions/explore the answer to those questions. Adding more flexibility to the schedule could help this.


  6. Helpful (2)

    "AF is the school for me"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - 4th Grade Teacher in Brooklyn, NY
    Current Employee - 4th Grade Teacher in Brooklyn, NY
    Recommends
    Approves of CEO

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

    Pros

    I'm just finishing up my 3rd year at AF as a literature teacher and grade level chair and have signed on for my 4th. After working in a couple of different elementary schools, AF is unlike any other. I love working with our scholars who truly enjoy learning and are eager to participate in the classroom. I am someone who likes to work my best, learn, and always improve instruction, so it's very beneficial to have a leadership team that always pushes teachers to be their best and coaches them. There is a high level of support at my school and as a teacher I always feel valued and appreciated, whether it's through a note from my principal or coach or a surprise lunch day. My school has done a lot of work to help teachers grow in their roles and works with them to make sure the job is meeting their personal goals.

    Cons

    Working for AF requires a lot of work and a lot of time. Often times there are moments when a lot of things need to get done at once with quick turn-around times (grading Interim assessments with report card grades due the same week). The work is very manageable as long as you have strong time management and are able to prioritize top tasks. Sustainability is something the network and schools are committed to working on, but until then the amount of teachers that leave each year makes it challenging for teams to stay strong;

    Advice to Management

    Differentiated professional development for new teachers and returning teachers, school-based and on the network level. Keep working on finding ways to make this job sustainable, so that seasoned teachers are driven to stay longer.


  7. Helpful (1)

    "Demanding but rewarding; High expectations for students and staff"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - High School Teacher in New Haven, CT
    Current Employee - High School Teacher in New Haven, CT
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

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

    Pros

    Teacher Development- You receive daily, weekly, and monthly support from a personal coach, grade level chair, academic dean, school culture dean, and principal. One of these mentors assists you in writing lesson plans, classroom culture, and content expertise. You will receive feedback constantly on your teaching, planning, and management.
    Opportunity for growth- There are stages of teacher development and opportunities for salary increases, more autonomy, and leadership as you advance in your career. There are also many in school and in network leadership opportunities in curriculum, readiness planning, and professional development.
    Resources- You will have everything you need to be an effective educator. Classroom novels, basic supplies (pencils, pens, paper), and a computer are provided by the network.
    Mission driven- AF's mission at all levels (elementary, middle, and high) is to send students to and through college. This shines through in everything we do and is the driving force of our day to day. It is rewarding to work in an environment where this is every staff member's goal.
    High Expectations- What is expected of students and staff exceeds normal standards. Our students achieve great things, and that requires extra hard work and preparation from them and us. Teachers are required to be planned out weeks or months in advance, have key points in lessons memorized, and be emotionally constant. All of this is demanding, but will make you very successful as a teacher here. Students are held to a high behavior standard, because our main focus is academic growth and success.

    Cons

    Emotionally Demanding- Due to the mission and the high stakes nature of education for our students, teachers have to be intellectually prepared and "on" at all times. The tone in classrooms and meetings is much more professional and serious than other more traditional public schools I've worked at. This environment is more productive, but requires more focus and commitment from adults than the average workplace. Holding students to high standards requires teachers to be normed and execute rules and expectations consistently on a daily basis.
    Feedback- There is a culture of feedback in AF schools for all staff members. You are expected to humbly give and receive feedback in an effort to improve instruction to improve student achievement. I truly believe in this practice and I know it has made me a better teacher. However, if you're having a bad day, not feeling confident about your lesson, or the observer only sees a small part of your lesson, being observed and receiving feedback can be discouraging.
    Change/Lack of consistency- AF is a relatively new network compared to other school systems, and has rapidly expanded in the last few years. This is awesome because it means more students are being served, but also means AF usually updates or changes some or most of their policies from year to year. This has improved in recent years and varies from school to school, but the culture of feedback and the rapid expansion can mean change from school year to school year.

    Advice to Management

    Continue to hire teachers with experience in similar environments and content expertise. Continue to use more restorative practice type behavior systems.
    Do not "reinvent the wheel" and have drastic policy changes from year to year.


  8. Helpful (2)

    "5 Years Down, Many to Come!"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Math Teacher in Brooklyn, NY
    Current Employee - Math Teacher in Brooklyn, NY
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

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

    Pros

    -Highly supportive environment: robust coaching structures, unit-level and daily-level lesson resources, lots of opportunities to attend professional development
    -Explicit work on diversity and inclusiveness: frequent conversations in affinity groups and mixed groups about how race impacts our interactions with each other and with our students
    -Lots of opportunities to provide input
    -Salary significantly higher than other schools
    -Committed to constantly making schools better for students and for staff
    -Desire to keep people happy in their roles, so there are lots of opportunities to move around and find the job that aligns with your personal interests and goals

    Cons

    -Extremely long days with an inflexible schedule (at least at my school); 55-60 hours/week in school and still requires work outside of school most weeks
    -While I believe that the structures put in place/requirements on teachers are important for student success, I think some people can find them constraining/stifling

    Advice to Management

    We've said year after year that we need to prioritize sustainability, but it needs to be done more quickly and aggressively.


  9. "World History Teacher and Grade Level Chair"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - World History Teacher and Grade Level Chair in New Haven, CT
    Current Employee - World History Teacher and Grade Level Chair in New Haven, CT
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

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

    Pros

    I have been working at Achievement First Amistad High School for 5 years and will be back next year for my 6th year! I honestly enjoy coming to work everyday and working with our amazing scholars and staff. I feel a sense of pride at my school. I previously worked at a traditional public high school and for the most part all of the teachers there were classroom teachers. They were concerned about their own classrooms but not the school as a whole. Its very refreshing to be at Amistad where the staff is committed to making the school an amazing place for both staff and students.

    The school helps to provide everything I would need to be a successful teacher. And I find the professional development to be very helpful. The network also is growing so there are many positions for administration that open up that allow me to move up quickly.

    Cons

    One of the biggest pros also happens to be my con. There are constantly administration and teaching positions opening at AF which is great because it allows a teacher like myself to move up quickly. The negative there is that because these positions are opening up it means that there is less continuity from the administration level. Sustainability has been an issue across the network however it is something that all of the schools and the network are committed to solving.

    Advice to Management

    More Differentiated Professional Development.

    Achievement First Response

    Apr 20, 2017 – Chief Talent Officer

    I value hearing from folks like you who have been teaching with us for so many years – thanks for your commitment and dedication to your scholars. I’m also thrilled to hear that you’ve found ... More


  10. Helpful (1)

    "AF Review"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Teacher in New Haven, CT
    Current Employee - Teacher in New Haven, CT
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

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

    Pros

    Organized, timely, academic success among the students, rigorous curriculum, receptive to feedback, strong leadership

    Cons

    Long hours, teachers are asked to cover classes tasks a day (unless you are a veteran), intensives given to scholars are rarely successful, retention varies among schools, culture varies among schools, scholars are over tested daily

    Advice to Management

    Scholars shouldn't be over tested because it leads to poor culture among the school. Teachers are over worked and it becomes too much.

    Achievement First Response

    Apr 28, 2017 – Vice President, Team Academic Operations

    Thanks for your review and feedback here! Our scholars take network-wide assessments 3-5 times per year depending on academy level. We agree that it’s hard to get the right balance between finding ... More


  11. "Math teacher"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Math Teacher in Brooklyn, NY
    Current Employee - Math Teacher in Brooklyn, NY
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

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

    Pros

    Incredibly hard working teachers with a common vision to pull all resources necessary to see that students meet benchmarks each testing cycle.

    Cons

    Very testing oriented where students have little opportunity to play and grow socially and emotionally.


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