No Excuses Philosophy
Not your average schools
Unstable home lives. Poverty. Violence. It’s a fact that the majority of students in schools founded by BES Fellows face challenges that their more affluent peers do not.
But BES schools take a no excuses approach, making it clear to students that, no matter what you’re dealing with outside of school, it’s no excuse for not following the rules and doing your best in school. And it’s certainly no excuse for not attending college.
Students at BES no excuses schools are held to high standards—academic and behavioral—and it pays off: By adhering to a highly structured, rigorous instructional program, an extended school day and year, and a clear and consistent discipline code, they routinely meet or outperform their more affluent peers on standardized tests.
What does a BES no excuses school look like?
The first thing that comes to mind when entering a BES no excuses school is “college.” University banners are hung in the hallways, classrooms are named after teachers’ alma maters and, everywhere you look, students are actively engaged in learning.
Inside classrooms wallpapered with high-scoring tests and essays, there is a feeling of focused energy for the subject matter and palpable respect for the teacher. Students rise quickly when their teacher gestures—no one is late to class—and address him or her with a confident greeting. They are all dressed neatly in their uniforms, alert and ready to learn. No one is goofing around, no one is daydreaming and no one is taking this opportunity lightly.
In a BES no excuses school, all hands rise when a question is asked, and students support their classmates’ correct answers. Here, studiousness is rewarded, not ridiculed, by peers. Teachers are demanding and accessible, often seen working one-on-one with a student before, during or after class. It’s an environment of support and achievement, where everyone works toward a common goal: preparing every student for success in college—and beyond.
Our core principles
The BES no excuses model employs proven practices that have been utilized in schools across the country with documented success in closing the achievement gap. It is based on the following ten core principles:
- Firm belief that all students can learn and achieve at high levels
- Clear, outcome‐focused mission, understood by all, evidenced throughout the school
- Highly visible leader, ensuring all are focused on the mission
- Structured learning environment and organization
- Classroom practices promote continuity and predictability across classrooms
- Frequent internal assessments with data to drive instruction
- Strong discipline code enforced by all
- Clear and frequent communications with parents regarding student performance
- Strong curriculum focus on skill mastery
- Extended school day and school year