Robert Pondiscio

Senior Fellow and Vice President for External Affairs, Thomas B Fordham Institute


Secrets of Success: How NYC’s Success Academy Achieves Its Stellar Results

For his new book, “How the Other Half Learns,” Robert Pondiscio examines the culture, curriculum, and practices of Success Academy, an unusually high-performing network of charter schools serving mostly low-income families in New York City. Based on test scores there is literally no such thing as a bad Success Academy, or even a notably weak one. Pondiscio spent a year embedded in one such school in the same neighborhood where he taught public school for several years to learn what Success Academy does, and what other schools can learn from their model.


Robert Pondiscio is senior fellow at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute. He also teaches civics at Democracy Prep Public Schools, a network of high-performing charter schools based in Harlem, New York. He writes and speaks extensively on education and education-reform issues, with an emphasis on literacy, curriculum, teaching, and urban education. After twenty years in journalism, including senior positions at TIME and BusinessWeek, Robert became a fifth-grade teacher at a struggling South Bronx public school in 2002. Robert’s articles and op-ed columns on education have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the Atlantic, the New York Daily News, Education Next, and many other publications.



Why Knowledge Matters

Persistent myths about reading comprehension–how we teach it; and how we test it–are holding back student achievement in the U.S.  Once we see reading comprehension for what it really is, not a skill to be taught but a condition to be created, one conclusion is inescapable, particularly for the most vulnerable learners:  knowledge matters. The only way to ensure reading success is with a rich, well-rounded curriculum for all children.

Practice-Policy-Prep Panel

In this panel discussion, four of US education’s most experienced and insightful thinkers (50CAN’s Derrell Bradford, NCTQ’s Kate Walsh, and Johns Hopkins University’s David Steiner, moderated by Robert Pondiscio) will discuss the role of evidence in shaping current ed policies, practices, and professional preparation.

Attend for insights–and to perhaps ask questions you might have–about (1) how soundly education policy/practices/preparation are based in evidence, (2) priorities policymakers/practitioners/preparation designers should be setting for near- and short-term improvements, (3) how everyday practitioners can have an impact on (1) and (2), and more.

The Secrets of Success Academy

For his upcoming book, Robert Pondiscio spent a year embedded at one of New York City’s most successful and controversial charter schools.  The results Success Academy gets with low-income children of color are unusually strong and consistent. How many of their curriculum, school culture, and leadership techniques are transferable to K-12 education at large?