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Achievement First Reviews

Updated January 18, 2018
273 reviews

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4.0
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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
118 Ratings

273 Employee Reviews

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Pros
  • Lots of professional development focused on clear action steps to implement the next week (in 54 reviews)

  • They continue to be my team and family (in 8 reviews)

Cons
  • You have to make an effort to create a work life balance (in 73 reviews)

  • Long Hours: Teachers are considered late promptly at 7:06 (in 42 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

  1. Featured Review

    Helpful (14)

    "Rewarding and demanding"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • 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 5 years)

    Pros

    I'm finishing my fifth year at an Achievement First Middle School. I came to AF after mixed results teaching in a district ran school and a different charter school. My first year at AF was powerful--because of the systems at my school, I was able to get closer to my goal of providing every student with an excellent education. Previously, I was able to serve kids that were invested in school, but I struggled to reach kids that seemed uninterested and/or misbehaved consistently. I realized, though, that it wasn't the systems themselves that helped me, but the team of teachers I worked with that prioritized our collective vision rather than their individual classrooms. I recently attended the "high school senior signing day" for the 8th graders I taught five years ago and it was extremely rewarding to learn which colleges they would be attending in the fall: UPENN, Carleton, Colombia, Lafayette, Skidmore, etc. I believe AF is truly expanding the life opportunities for almost every student in our schools and am proud to be part of this team.

    On a more personal note, I feel like my coach at AF has helped me significantly improve each year. I feel fortunate to have a job where I am improving each day.

    Cons

    I love this work and it has become all consuming at times. I regularly put in much more than 60 hour work weeks. There have been times where the amount of work I have on my plate has been stressful and I have struggled to give my family the time I want to give them. Another significant stress agent is the irregular schedules my school frequently has. Our days are long, 7:15-4:15, and irregular schedules for events such as interim assessments can lead to me having fewer much cherished preparation blocks.

    Advice to Management

    I think we should shorten the school day to make this job more sustainable.

    I think we should build in more extracurricular activities to help develop the whole child. We're doing a good job academically preparing kids for the rigors of high school and college, but I'd like to see us do more developing students interests and hobbies beyond the classroom. This could also increase investment in our schools.

    Achievement First Response

    Jul 28, 2017 – Chief Talent Officer

    Thanks for your positive and kind feedback. It’s great to hear that both the systems and collaboration at your school led to academic gains for your kids. We believe in our bones that this work is... More


  2. Helpful (4)

    "Value-driven, sees strengths in individuals"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Student Services Manager in New Haven, CT
    Current Employee - Student Services Manager in New Haven, CT
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook

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

    Pros

    - annual 360 review by all peers
    -semi annual performance review with team members
    - network wide annual professional development event
    - takes soft skills into account in performance
    - very humane: life flexible, family friendly
    - strong relationship with TFA, very low teacher turn over at most schools

    Cons

    - internal development is still evolving which can lead to lots of change and readjustment depending on location in company (new programs being rolled out, tweaking job descriptions, etc) - which can be a pro or con depending on your preference
    - Career paths still being carved out (but very actively being worked on) - still establishing promotion ladders within each part of the organization

  3. Helpful (1)

    "Outstanding peers, outstanding organization."

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in New York, NY
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in New York, NY
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook

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

    Pros

    Amazing, dedicated, intelligent peers who are both passionate about education and extremely productive to work with.

    A very results-oriented and data-driven culture. They work with the end in mind, and produce more high-quality results in a month than most organizations do in a year.

    Cons

    An intense work load and a an occasional focus on effort and productivity with less focus on the big picture and strategic use of time and resources.


  4. Helpful (1)

    "Best people I've ever worked with, great mission"

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

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

    Pros

    After three years here I want to spend at least three years more here. My coworkers are warm, funny and CAPABLE - there is no weak link in the chain - I come to work excited to see people. The co-CEOs are warm, smart, thoughtful people who firmly have one foot still planted in the classroom. Families are wonderful. Benefits are really strong, as is comp.

    Cons

    Working here is a lot of hard work - but if you know that you have to define what sustainability means for you you will be successful.


  5. Helpful (3)

    "Purposeful and intellectually engaging work"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • 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

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

    Pros

    - Compensation: People at AF are well paid and get great benefits
    - Resources: There is no lack of resource for teachers
    - Team and Family: You work with talented and intelligent people at all levels.

    Cons

    - People work incredibly long hours: Work life balance is an issue.
    - Time off: Hard to take a day off without feeling guilty.


  6. Helpful (1)

    "Lots of hard-working dedicated people."

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

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

    Pros

    Lots of really dedicated, hard-working people come together here in an environment that is collaborative and supportive. As a teacher, you have a lot of supports from school leadership and peers. There is weekly coaching and professional development in addition to summer training that is all in an effort to make you a better teacher. Additionally, everyone is focused on students and puts them first. Finally, there is a culture of constant improvement. Leadership is always looking for ways to improve the network and individual schools.

    Cons

    It has a start-up atmosphere in that there are growing pains to put up with. Each year there seem to be new systems, curricula, school culture systems, etc and you have to have a certain mindset to be ok with that. In regards to the work-life balance issues, it is spoken about and discussed as an area of growth in the school/network and what is encouraging is that in 3+ years here, I've seen major improvements. However, there are a lot of type A personalities here that work 12 hours a day because they are striving for perfection. It is possible to get your work done during the school day and be a great teacher, but at times you can feel guilty for not working 12+ hours a day because so many people are.


  7. Helpful (1)

    "Mission driven work being pursued by a team of awesome people."

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

    I have been working at Achievement First full-time (More than 8 years)

    Pros

    AF has very strong core values and is fiercely dedicated to its mission: creating opportunities for students who historically have been denied them. It attracts committed, smart, hard working people who share common values of making a real difference. I had worked a bunch of different places before AF, never longer than 2 years at any one place, but after 8 years at AF, I am excited as ever about the work we do and being being a part of this team.

    Cons

    AF operates in a field which is dynamic, challenging and in many ways still uncharted. That can lead to work which is by necessity hard to predict and, frankly, we get it wrong some times. It is definitely not the place for someone looking for constancy in their work or routines, and that can make it difficult to strike a work/life balance. The urgency we all feel makes the environment intense.

    Advice to Management

    Keep listening to all stakeholders so that you can continue evolve in a way that achieves your mission in a long-term sustainable way.

  8. Helpful (3)

    "Impactful ed reform work"

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

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


  9. Helpful (1)

    "Challenging work, smart and hard-working colleagues"

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

    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.


  10. Helpful (1)

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

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

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

    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.


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