Harmony Academy

Interesting story about another large charter school network in Texas.

With little fanfare, the Harmony Academy system has become the powerhouse of the Texas charter school scene — easily surpassing KIPP and Yes Prep as the largest charter network in the state.

The 10-year-old public school chain has 33 campuses in Texas – including 11 in Houston. By 2012, Harmony expects enrollment to reach 24,000 – nearing KIPP’s national enrollment.


Roughly 21,000 families signed up to be on Harmony’s waiting list prior to the start of this school year. Campuses are at capacity, academic performance remains strong and the charter system continues to be in good standing with the Texas Education Agency.

Students say they prefer Harmony’s small student-teacher ratio, usually 12-to-1.

“At my old school, they barely knew my name,” said eighth-grader Diana Acosta, who attended Welch Middle School in HISD before transferring last year to Harmony School of Art and Technology on Kirby.

Harmony students regularly earn top honors at science and robotics competitions. Collectively, the schools teach nine languages, including Vietnamese, Russian and Turkish, in addition to the typical offerings such as Spanish and French.

And even as charter schools statewide face funding and facilities hurdles, Harmony Academy has taken advantage of the lackluster economy. Its leaders secured bond funds and used stimulus money to build their first new campuses – which are polished, if not flashy, compared to their original schools in strip malls, former churches and abandoned big box stores.

Note the small class sizes. They’ll have an easier time marketing that after this legislative session. I don’t really have anything to add here, but as I had never heard of these guys a couple of months ago, I thought this was worth pointing out.

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2 Responses to Harmony Academy

  1. Kimmy says:

    It’s not the small class size that distinguishes Harmony. Harmony, like KIPP, has a very rigid curriculum. Unlike KIPP, they use lots and lots of computer-assisted learning. Kids don’t advance if they don’t pass regular computer-assisted testing. Not my cup of tea but very helpful, especially in the middle school years.

  2. HSART Parent says:

    As a parent: the classes are not that small. 28 students in a class to 1 teacher. The 12-15 to 1 ratios are in the magnet classes (which require an extended day beyond regular school, a minimum academic record, and additional out of pocket fees)

    2)They DO pass the kids who have not mastered certain concepts of the current class. AND, I haven’t seen the “lots of computer assisted learning” Computer courses are mandated, and some teachers incorporate various websites periodically, depending on what they are working on…BUT..since the school just started shutting down certain mail – when students DO work and try to email it to the teacher – they cant; or they cant copy another account (i.e. parents ..who may want to verify the student working OR verify submittal when teacher later claims not recvd.)

    I’m personally sure that this student’s position on Harmony has changed since her initial interview.

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