Achievement First was created to support and enhance our schools in our shared mission to close the achievement gap. Our network approach has five objectives:
Running an outstanding school is a difficult and complex job. Achievement First has found that by centralizing certain functions—like teacher recruitment, fundraising, budgeting and fiscal operations, data management, information technology, and facilities operations—the network is able to free school leaders and teachers to focus on the most important things: teaching and learning. Just as an element of our school approach is "more time on task," our network approach enables school teams to spend more time on delivering a world-class education. Within each school, teachers and principals are supported by an outstanding school operations and logistics team that works hard to handle most non-instructional tasks, including busing, food service, field trips, budget and finance, and state reporting. All schools share a common operating style that stems from their affiliation with Achievement First. Centralizing and coordinating these operational services enables us to deliver them at both a higher level of quality and lower cost than a single school would on its own.
Finding, developing and retaining great educators is the key to the success
of our students and the success of the network as a whole. By centralizing some of these functions and supporting schools with others, Achievement First has found that it can build the systems and processes necessary to bring the best people from around the country, provide them with outstanding professional development and career opportunities, and monitor and react to the issues they are facing in their demanding work to ensure they are able to be successful for many years.
One of the greatest benefits of the network is that Achievement First schools, while sharing some common elements, are also free to innovate—each discovering new answers to the significant challenges of urban education. We share a core focus on results and continuous improvement, so a successful practice at one school is often shared and systematized so that the entire network benefits.
The Achievement First network provides a variety of support services, from direct coaching for principals by assistant superintendents (who have previously been successful principals in their own careers), to network-wide professional development and networking. At the same time, Achievement First holds schools accountable and, when a school is not being successful, has the power and expertise to intervene and take corrective action.
Through economies of scale and higher levels of specialization, Achievement First can execute key tasks with significantly less expense and with higher levels of quality than the schools can on their own. These efficiencies are what enable the network to operate at cost levels that are the same or less than our host districts, while supporting the schools in their high level of achievement.