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A Year of Growth and Achievement: Reflecting on the 2023-2024 School Year

Recy Dunn and Maryann Li


June 28, 2024

As we close out the 2023-2024 school year, we are thrilled to share some of the remarkable milestones and achievements that have defined this year. Our journey has been one of growth, perseverance, and success, and we couldn’t be prouder of our students, staff, and families for their unwavering dedication and support.

Academic Excellence and Growth

Our students have excelled in their academic pursuits, demonstrating significant progress in both Math and ELA. Since 2020, our network has seen a 41.7% growth in Math and a 28.5% growth in ELA proficiency. This year, 60% of our students are proficient in Math and 59% in ELA, nearly doubling the proficiency rates for students of color in New York City.

  • We’ve closed the gap between ELA and Math proficiency for the first time since 2015-2016.

  • We achieved a 10% growth in Math and a 5% growth in ELA over the past year.

  • We’re on track to surpass our highest historical proficiency rates from 2018-2019.

  • With increasing enrollment, this year saw the highest number of proficient students in Ascend’s history.

Thanks to the implementation of a rigorous curriculum this year, we have doubled our mastery rate (80%+) from December to May. Initial data shows a 25% improvement in mock test results compared to last year, and we look forward to the continued incredible academic progress of our students, with highlights below.

Lower School Highlights

Our youngest learners have made incredible strides:

  • 75% of kindergarteners, 60% of first graders, and 86% of second graders are reading at or above grade level.

  • Over 50% of kindergarteners mastered the End of Year ELA Benchmark.

  • Over 70% of kindergarten through first graders scored at or above mastery in the End of Year Counting Assessment.

Middle School Highlights

This year marked the successful launch of computer-based NYS Exams for all middle school grades:

  • 142 seventh graders received offers from the DREAM Specialized High School Institute, the highest number in Ascend’s history.

  • Five eighth graders were accepted into New York’s Specialized High Schools, with one CAMS student admitted to the highly selective Queens High School at York College.

High School Highlights

Our high school students have excelled across all subjects:

  • Almost all ELA courses saw increased pass rates, with 70% of history courses seeing double-digit growth.

  • Algebra II, Pre-Calculus, and Chemistry pass rates all improved.

  • Over 80% of seniors completed AP testing, with significant improvements in AP English Literature scores.

We are proud to celebrate the successes of our graduating class. Of the graduating class of 2024:

  • 88% will be attending a 4 year college

  • 6% will be attending a 2 year college

  • 3% will be joining the armed forces (Air Force and Navy)

  • 3% will be starting their career journey through employment/apprenticeships

Highlights of our Class of 2024 post-secondary pathways include:

  • Villanova University

  • Fordham University

  • Baruch University

  • Franklin & Marshall

  • Delaware State University

  • University of Buffalo

  • Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT)

  • Stony Brook University

  • Muhlenberg College

  • SUNY New Paltz

  • SUNY Farmingdale

  • SUNY Plattsburgh

  • SUNY University of Albany

  • NYC City Tech

  • Brooklyn College

  • John Jay College

  • Medgar Evers College

  • U.S. Navy

  • U.S. Air Force

We are also so proud of our numerous scholarship recipients, including:

  • Melchisedec Charles (POSSE Scholarship to Franklin & Marshall College)

  • Jasmine Smith (Villanova, 100% need met financial aid)

  • Melaina King (Rochester Institute of Technology, 100% need met financial aid)

  • Emelio Harris (Stony Brook University)

  • Kimoyi Smith (Muhlenberg College, full ride)

  • Fernando Jacome (Aerospace Program at Rochester Institute of Technology)

  • Akim Josil (SUNY University at Albany, full ride)

Community and Culture

This year, we rolled out a new cultural calendar to foster an inclusive learning environment, celebrating events like Kindness is Cool Day and Rep Your Culture Day. We also launched an employee recognition program, honoring staff who exemplify our core values, culminating in our Employee Recognition Awards ceremony.

Our staff retention has improved by 27% compared to last year, and our student attrition rate is below 2%. Our 2024-25 lottery results show a 13% increase in acceptances and a tripling of our waitlist.

Support and Appreciation

This year, we launched our development function, and raised nearly $900,000 in our founding year. We have also hired our first Chief Advancement Officer.

We are excited to share that Bloomberg Philanthropies has awarded us $320,000 to run a summer learning program, continuing our successful curriculum implementation.

Thank You

None of this would be possible without the support of our families, partners, and donors. Your dedication has been instrumental in driving our mission forward. As we head into the summer, we look forward to building on our successes and continuing our journey of growth and achievement.

Warm regards,

Recy B. Dunn, CEO & Maryann Li, President

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