My eldest child has attended this school since kindergarten in it's inaugural year. We saw this school transition from something special and inspiring (especially for bright kids), to one that is a bit lackluster and political across the board. I really struggled with whether or not to have my children attend the 2016-17 school year, as last school years experience was HORRIBLE for all of my children (I have three). My eldest child scored in the 97th percentile in his 3rd grade SBAC tests in both Math and ELA for 2014-15 school year, and his scores DROPPED to 92th percentile for 2015-16. His teacher that year was horrible -- scatterbrained, disorganized, unchallenging, and I was told on numerous occasions that the "smart kids" tutor the lower-level kids AND complete the majority of the group project work. Not exactly appropriate for 9 year olds to have to shoulder the burden! I have numerous other complaints regarding how issues have been handled organizationally, administratively, and how the teachers are always away from the classroom "at meetings on campus" while the class gets dumped with special subject teachers who have NO CLUE how to speak to children when they are not gaining desired behavior from them.
I'll be honest, the only reason why we have stayed at this school for this school year is because we will likely be moving soon. But now that I think of it, we really should have put the kids in our neighborhood school as it has a "10" ranking on Great Schools. As the saying goes, hindsight is 20/20!
This school is a huge hit because it's free of charge, it's not traditional public, and has a little of a feel of private school.
Pros and Cons:
* No more foreign language!
* High faculty turn-over
* Low paid faculty
* Curriculum Lacks Math strength
* Curriculum not very strong in Language Arts (writing). - I have seen MANY of the kids' writing in 2nd and 3rd grade that I witnessed while helping in Literacy centers and it was SUB PAR - Pre school level. Parents complained about it amongst themselves.
* A lot of the kids here do not fit into traditional schools, therefore there are a lot of gaps in academic level, they mix dyslexic kids or kids with zero academic motivation with very bright kids, and the bright kids end up tutoring them and not learning more advanced work. They should help the kids who need extra help, and place the advanced ones in groups, for example.
* Hygiene has not been very good in the last 2 years - my kid got sicker here more often than in any other school he's ever been at. They said teachers didn't teach common sense hygiene like coughing into your arm, washing hands, germs, etc.
* When I volunteered and I cleaned a desk, the wipes were BLACK first thing in the morning. I hope this changes this year 2016-17, but they cleaned with plain wipes and not anti-bacterial ones. Very dirty to work on that kind of surface.
* Builds positive self-image and self-esteem in kids
* Strong support from teachers when a kid is having trouble.
* Nice staff and faculty
* No academic pressure
* Critical thinking
* Public speaking
Not strong in Math of Language Skills if your child is struggling. If your child is bright they fall behind and end up tutoring others since they are at a lower level class, while the teachers help the ones who struggle.
In Elementary, homework was not very clear to the parents or students. Even teachers didn't know how to handle the "toolkit" initially in the 2015-16 school year, but it got better by the end of the year. In Middle School, homework was a breeze for bright students and a nightmare for the rest of the kids. In Middle School maybe they should have the "advanced" class and the "normal level" class, if you will. It's part of life, because your "bright" student ends up tutoring the other kids and he/she is not challenged enough academically or intellectually. These are the words of my previous middle schooler at CRA: "Not very challenging".
My son has been going to CRA since last year (Kindergarten) and now is in First Grade. Overall, I like the school and most of the parents are involved (which is typical of a charter school which requires action and involvement to get your children put on the lottery for admittance). However, I've noticed some items that are handled more poorly than public schools and similar charters: 1) the attendance recording (tardies and absences) is manual and error-prone (VERY error-prone), 2) not a huge fan of the principal - unprofessional demeanor, his personal views have clouded many of our IEP meetings which is unacceptable, and he is always shaking oddly (not sure if this is a handicap or other?), 3) the communication between teachers and parents is less than desired - when asked, I'm routinely told that teachers can't possibly keep up with emails regarding 30-some students (however, this was never an issue in the public school for our older son).
Hopefully, with some adjustments, and next year's new campus, things will iron out.
Fantastic school and staff! My son absolutely LOVES going to school here! The project based learning environment is amazing and makes sense to fully teach our children and not just teach them to test well.
My 4th and 5th graders just started school here. We switched to CRA because our recent school experiences have been lacking. My oldest used to come home and beg me to stay home. Now both of my kids are eager to get up and go to school! They really like their teachers and have already made friends. I enjoy all of the friendly faces that I have seen on campus.