This is a safe place to share your honest opinions of a school, whether good or bad.
Burlingame Intermediate School5
Posted October 21, 2014
- a parent
Burlingame Intermediate School is a place where students receive a high quality education and also have a chance to grow as individuals. With strong administrators who continually strive for improvement and who are eager to engage with parents and students, the school continues to be on the forefront of new ideas in education. Its recently introduced Humanities Curriculum prepares students for the challenges of the Common Core on the high school level and the school was also one of the first in the area to teach design thinking, which encourages creativity in problem solving and which was developed at Stanford University's School of Design. Parents, teachers, and staff make BIS a special place.
Burlingame Intermediate has been a great experience for my children! Students have access to a number of phenomenal enrichment activities including an annual musical that is top-notch, electives that include an excellent Jazz Band/concert band, instruction that embraces design thinking, project-based learning, and excellent use of integrating technology! It is a diverse student population and the teachers are supportive and knowledgable.
If your child is gifted or doing work above-grade-level then BIS may not be the school for you. In previous years, they segmented both language arts and Math by ability but this year they have eliminated that and so all the kids of very wide abilities are mixed together. Kids who took pre-algebra in 6th grade are now in the same Common Core 7th grade math. The explanation by the administration is a joke - for those in regular math it's too challenging and for those who were in advanced math it's too slow (so no one benefits).
We were disappointed with our daughter's experience at BIS. Part of it is no one's fault, with 1000 kids, your child will be "just a number" to them. Even as a straight-A student, most teachers seemed to have no idea who my daughter was. (With a few exceptions, there are some wonderful teachers, but they are few and far between.) Academics are sub-par. In "advanced" language arts in 7th grade, they read 2 novels the entire year, one which my daughter had already read in 5th grade at her private school. Some teachers have trouble controlling their classes and not much is learned. With Common Core, this year they have now done away with the advanced programs (which weren't particularly advanced to begin with.) Kids who took pre-alegebra in 7th grade were put into Common Core "Math 8" instead of Algebra in 8th grade, and those who had already taken algebra were having to re-take a new Algebra instead of Geometry in 8th. Not wanting another wasted year, my daughter begged for a change. We were fortunate enough to be able to find (and afford) an alternative situation for her for 8th grade.
This school talks a great game about communication, making use of technology to assist learning, and reaching out to parents to enable great teaching. But there really no follow-through. I get an email every afternoon, for example, with my son's grades, assignments, late assignments, zeroes, etc. But by school policy, teachers don't have to keep any of it up to date. The grades I see every day are at least three weeks out of date. The most recent email has grades almost six weeks out of date. When I use the system to email a teacher or the principal, I get no response most times. My son's teacher offered to contact a counselor at the school to help him. Nothing happened. When I asked her about it weeks later, she hadn't done it. She said she would, but It's now been weeks again, and nothing has happened. My older son, who graduated from this school, said he felt like the school changed things just to change. Like requiring passes for kids to go to the library during lunch. Why? That seems to me like a pretty bad message to send -- you could get. In trouble if you go to the library, better to just waste time on the playground. We are investigating other schools to move to.
My child is a new sixth grader who comes from a local elementary school that we loved. In contrast, BIS is a big, impersonal school with a business-like administration and a front-office staff that really doesn't seem to like the kids or parents. I have been disappointed with the quality of the teachers and the disarray of school events (specifically parent-teacher conferences and back-to-school night). I would have expected teachers with backgrounds in STEM to teach science and math in middle school, but this is not the case, and it is reflected in the less-than-inspiring math classes. In Science, I don't think my child has done any science labs or experiments(Science appears to be all book-learning). On the other hand, English and language arts appear to be quite strong at BIS - I do like that class' supplementary group projects. The school does a good job with 6th grade transition and offers a variety of after-school sports and drama/musical theatre that are very inclusive.
I am a new parent to this school so I can't yet give it a proper review. I do feel I should add a comment about a review given in the past. The parent who made a remark about the "PTA Mommies" might not want to bite the hand that feeds their child. Burlingame schools are great for many reasons, least of which is the dedication of the parents and community. I've worked alongside some amazingly smart, talented and generous parents in my 6 years in the Burlingame School District. They have inspired me to give my time to help make our school and community a better place. I know my children have benefited from this community spirit and can only believe the rest of the kids have as well. Instead of criticizing these parents who are giving tirelessly to help your child's school become a better learning environment, come join them. It takes a village! We are only in our 2nd week of school but my 6th grader is confident, happy and really liking all his teachers. I'm thankful for such an easy transition into middle school.
Okay, while the school has some issues, it is great. Okay, so the admin. is not so good. But i disagree about projects! Maybe the open house thing is elementary school-ish, but who cares? You do know it's more for people to see what their children actually do and to meet with other parents from OTHER elementary schools their children did not attend? And also for 5th grade parents to see what BIS is like? And for extended family? Open house at BIS is not Lincoln open house or McKinley or whatever. It's not for the kids and parents anymore, it's an extended orientation and meeting. And the academics are fine, my child got straight A's through sixth grade and is taking 3 adv. classes now in 7th, as well as band in the morning. And there is amazing band classes. Like jazz band int, jazz band adv, 7/8 grade concert band, and 6th grade concert band. The languages in my opinion are lacking, but hey, most schools don't have mandarin. And they did have French, but the teacher retired. Teachers don't emphasize arts and crafts at all, that is just absurd! And projects aren't just arts and crafts, your thinking about elementary school. They are important. So good job BIS teachers and PTA.
I agree that the administration is extremely poor. The administration does not provide leadership. Student discipline is punitive and applies rules and policies in a manner which discriminates against minority students. Students do not respect the admin because of the perception of favoritism. The admin also fails to take any corrective action against the teachers when parent's complain about excessive homework loads or unfair grading. Teachers over emphasize "arts and crafts" or "project work" in language arts/social studies and math. The projects are piled on right before "open house" to "show off" class work. But, this is not elementary school. Projects should be "extra credit". Teachers also do not apply "differential learning" in what is called "advanced classes". Instead, some teachers simply just pile on more homework. Other teachers do not have the skills or education to teach the material. When you look at the teacher's educational background, a parent can see that the teacher has no training in the subject area. Many of the best teachers have left the school over the last several years. (Submitted by a parent of a former student and one who is graduating student.)