Early on, we were very pleased with the school. However, we are currently so displeased with the school that we we will be removing our children at the end of the year. Despite the school being touted as a gifted magnet, and advertised widely all over the valley, there is still no curriculum--teachers must create everything, and there is no rhyme or reason to the flow of the lessons. Second, there is A LOT of assigning here, and very little instruction. Yes, they're gifted, but they're also still children, and as such, still developing. Not all of their learning should be self-directed. This year just seems to be random project after random project, and the busy work? How many 80+ vocabulary exercises need to be completed where the student needs to copy the "official" definition, write their own definition, and then find a picture online that represents the definition? The only grade level that seems to have itself together is the 5th grade, but unfortunately, we won't be sticking around to find out.
I have 3 kids here and we've been her since it opened. I have a super mega achiever, an easygoing and forgetful one, and one who's a handful (to say the least). Each one of them has flourished in this environment. They absolutely teach to each child's needs and every staff member and administrator that we have met cares about the kids. Parents are way too critical of the pto and fundraisers. ..that's been the only sad thing to see. I'm so thankful for all those volunteers. My kids are becoming confident and strong learners excited about going to school. Homework is not busy work; rather it reinforces concepts and encourages critical thinking. So grateful for this bastion of education in a state that clearly doesn't value education.
Knox Gifted Academy is for children who test in the top 1 to 3% of the Chandler Unified School District's "CogAT," Cognitive Ability, test. It is a four part test and a child qualifies for "CATS," Chandler Academically Talented Students, if they score in the top 97% or higher on any one of the four parts, or if they have a composite score of all four parts of 95% or greater. Knox Gifted Academy is one of very few schools dedicated to "CATS" programs. Children engage in project based activities challenging and encouraging one another. The emphasis is not on test taking, or memorization; instead, problem solving, creative thinking, and critical analysis fill their time. I have 2 children currently attending Knox. While I know there is room for improvement, I am so impressed by what they learn and how they learn. Their teachers are second to none and know how to challenge high thinkers. If your child has tested for "CATS," I recommend Knox. I find that Knox students are slightly less "competitive" based and more "sharing" based. In other words, they are interested to learn from each other. My kids are so happy there.
Knox Gifted Academy was a blessing to our family! Last year was my child's first year at Knox and we had our ups and downs with it at first. His teacher was also new to the CATS program so I think that's where the problem was. That being said....even through all the ups and downs it was the best thing that could have happened to our son. He has found his place and Knox is giving his so much more than just an education. This year has been AMAZING for him and there is not a doubt in my mind that this is where he belongs! I'm grateful we found this school!
If your child is above average or slightly gifted, this school will be hard, seem bizarre and probably not a good fit. If your child is truly gifted, this school will be a blessing. It is for kids that need the extreme critical thinking learning path to be engaged and successful. My daughter has been at Knox for 3 years after attending CTA and Public school. It is hands down the best learning environment for her.
If your child is accepted, then you should send him/her to Knox. To be honest, I was very skeptical of the curriculum for the first several months. Knox is following the core curriculum (at an advanced pace) and integrating STEM. This method is so different than what I experienced in elementary school 30 years ago. The good news is that it works! Rather than memorize a bunch of facts, the teacher provided hands-on design challenges and real-world problems. Now, at the end of kindergarten, I can see the amazing results. My daughter has an excellent grasp of mathematical relationships and she recently performed division (not by using the standard algorithms, but mentally using what she knows about numbers). She has learned several writing techniques that I would consider "pre-essay" skills. She learned how to write a persuasive letter, a biography and a book/article review. With the redesigned SAT calling for more real-world problem solving and a deeper analysis of literary strategy, I think that the Knox curriculum is right on track. What a great school!
Our first year at KGA and my child has blossomed here. My child has been challenged by teachers that show her what she is capable of doing. Everyone at the school has been so helpful. The new principal coming in next year seems very excited and has a good record in working with gifted students and the teachers that teach them. Very active PTO with plenty of activities that bring families together. Challenging school but with the kindness any parent would want for their child.
Knox Gifted Academy is a great environment with many excellent, dedicated teachers. The research is clear that a self-contained environment is the best for helping gifted learners reach their full potential, but KGA is the only fully gifted school in the state. I think gifted children can easily coast at most other schools and never learn that success is the result of hard work rather than natural ability, but that is not a problem at KGA. Also, the self-contained environment is a boon for parents and teachers who can feel isolated in other setups. The teachers (at least the ones I've known) are focused on teaching the exact things I find important - learning how to enjoy challenges and learning how to think critically. The engineering program is a stand-out aspect. There's not a lot of memorization work, which may be an adjustment for parents and students used to lots of drills. I see other reviews that point out some issues that I see as temporary. Knox is currently 75% KGA, but it will be fully KGA starting in the 2014-2015 school year. In addition, there have been some inevitable growing pains as KGA went from nonexistent to its current state in just a couple of years.
Be aware, this school is not safe. The school is in an old and run down neighborhood. The neighborhood kids are still attending this school even though the school is named Knox Gifted Academy. Apparently the neighborhood kids don t like the school being taken over by the gifted kids. So there is a hostile attitude/behavior towards the gifted kids. The school administration has not done a good job to bring the two groups together. They try to avoid their responsibilities by blaming on the poor upbringing and intelligence of these neighborhood kids. Several incidents such as the neighborhood kids picked on the CATS kids have occurred in campus. So far, the only solution the school can come up with is more segregation. Should the school provide a role more like an educator than a prison guard?
I had high hope before my child joined the Knox gifted program. But just in one semester, I realized it was a huge mistake. First of all, the quality of teaching is average at the best. Many teachers are new to the gifted program at Knox. Then, there was a hiring crisis for a first grade class, several teachers hired and resigned in a short time frame. Recently, a great fourth grade teacher quit the job after only one semester on the job. The principal doesn't share any concerning issues among different grades. So you won't be able to learn the bad news for another grade directly from the school. Now I can't wait to take my child out of Knox when the semester is over.