This is a safe place to share your honest opinions of a school, whether good or bad.
UCLA Lab School5
Posted July 17, 2014
- a parent
I somewhat disagree with the last post. The school in fact has its fair share of tiger parents (though definitely not the majority) and does a good job of challenging its students - for example, my kid's teachers made sure she was reading books appropriate for her level (about three years above her actual grade level). Keep in mind that a sizable proportion of the families have at least one parent at the University (surgeons, tenured prize-winning professors, etc.) and those folks don't take kindly to teaching to an 'average' level. Kids undergo standardized testing every year so parents have a benchmark for how their kids perform relative to national norms. Definitely a balanced environment, with a lot of happy students and a caring community, but not pure 'granola.'
Any child who can get in here would be lucky in every way. This is a sweet, diverse, caring community. However, it will not suit any Tiger Parents with their hearts set on Stanford. The academics are balanced and geared towards the average child. Those parents who had their kids reading in preschool should look elsewhere. Nicely granola for the rest of us.
My son has been attending this school since pre-school. I absolutely love the school. I love the fact that the school sits in the middle of a redwood forest and has a charming creek flowing through it. Most of the teachers my son has had have been great. They go above and beyond teaching. My son has been nurtured and massaged into the person he is today. The psychologist Dr. Jacobs has been a fundamental positive staple in my son's life. The math program is phenomenal. As with any programs there are pro's and con's. As far as the con's I wish the administration and school board was more diverse. The safe school policy should have more consequences that happen to repeat and serious offenders/offenses. The writing program is great and many things are taught that I feel as an English tutor will be next to impossible to teach older adults, however the grammar/spelling should be focused on earlier than fifth grade. Overall, the school is great. I am so glad that my son got a great start in life. I know that his academic and social foundation has been so greatly molded here at the lab school that no matter where he ventures to next he will do great.
I never write reviews, but I had to respond to the insecure parents who think they must hire tutors so that their children can academically compete with their friends' kids at other schools. How sad. Both of my kids attend school here and I can't say enough positive things about the quality of their education--both academically and socially. My kids are happy to go to school every day and it's incredible the amount of critical and analytical thinking that's a part of every grade level at the school. And yes, my kids are academically challenged in every subject as well. Also, contrary to the naysayers, the 6th graders who leave the school consistently go to the top independent schools in the city. This is a FACT. But if keeping up with the Jones' and the "academic rigor" of your friends' kids is your thing, this isn't the school for you.
As part of UCLA s Graduate School of Education, you can expect that the curriculum will reflect best practices for teaching. After years of rotating principals, the school now has an excellent leader, Norma Silva, who is committed to recapturing the school s position as a national leader in education. The school s emphasis is on the whole child, looking at children s social/emotional learning but also offering differentiated instruction in multi-age classrooms. Under Silva s leadership the academics have improved substantially and while it is true (as one writer complained) that some families have tutors, this more likely reflects the aspirations of the parents than any deficiencies in teaching. The teachers know what they are doing, and while the process may occasionally seem mystifying to parents who attended more traditional schools, one cannot argue with the product. The children are incredibly happy and extremely self-confident and move on to the top middle schools. Cool Tools, which may seem a bit strange to some parents, gives children behavioral and ethical guidelines that they can use for their entire lives. The community of families is racially and economically diverse.
My child is in a 2 room combined age grouping - there are less than 50 students in total and they share 3 full time teachers and 2 full time teaching assistants - need I say more? In addition, they have Spanish or music taught by a specialist in their classroom daily. The school promotes lifetime learning, confidence and leadership. Comprehending concepts is favored over learning by rote and with the student to teacher ratio, each child can learn at his/her own pace rather than be limited by the average of the larger group. The community is rich in diversity but singular in its commitment to education. As it is a laboratory school, it is at the forefront of instructional theory and methodology. It has recently extended its Learning in Two Languages program which teaches for fluency in both Spanish and English. The campus is located in a redwood stand and a creek runs through it. PreK - 6th grade.
The grounds are simply divine - your child will attend school in a lush redwood forest. I agree with all the comments about there not being enough academic rigor. My child started getting bored in 4th grade when the teachers kept doing the same projects year after year - literally the exact same project. A lot of the parents in our class were not happy with this. I hired outside tutors in order to prepare for testing and the ISEE exam to get into middle school and was accused of being abusive (?!). My kid wants to go to a top school, they object. Teachers there can really push an agenda and act like your kid is their kid. There is bullying at the school and it is supported by the administration, this thing called "cool tools" is a joke - they don't practice what they preach. If you move to protect your kid from this bullying and the bullies are richer than you, the principal will retaliate and make your life hell. Several parents have experienced this. Many of us are eager to get out of the school. If you do go it's probably best to hire tutors and get your kid out after 5th grade - the last year is really trying - my kid got everything from outside tutors the last year.
A lovely location with some kind and caring teachers but sadly lacking in academic focus or rigor. If you have the time, money and inclination to hire outside tutors to supplement then it might work for you. My kids are getting bored and coming to the realization that they are falling behind their peers who attend other schools.
The school is part of UCLA's GSE&IS and is a laboratory for training teachers and for testing teaching methods. Will your kid have wires taped to his head? No. It means that researchers may record his class and ask him some questions, or that he might be in a section trying out some variation of Singapore math. It also means that his teachers will be demonstration teachers - deemed good enough to teach others how to teach. All this outside interaction with the class yields more transparency and accountability. The place might look unstructured but there is actually an amazing amount of thought applied to the curriculum and its delivery. And although there are no grades, assessments are taking place all the time. If you're a parent who fundamentally believes kids should learn by sitting at a desk and being lectured to, this is NOT the place for you. The Lab School is all about project-based learning, working in groups, developing and testing hypotheses, etc. I'll admit, I was a little concerned at first because I had little visibility into what my kid was learning. But I'm always surprised by the things that come up in our conversations (that I know we didn't teach her at home).
UCLA Lab School does some things amazingly well! Kids & families are from diverse backgrounds socially, economically, racially. The mix seems to work. There is a sense of community, tranquility & natural beauty on this campus like no other in L.A. Most kids are happy to go to school! On the flip side, this school emphasizes creativity but NOT academic rigor & they make no apologies for it. Stay away if you seek hard core academics. No focus on CA Standards like spelling, writing styles, math basics. In 4th to 6th grade, we saw 1/2 the class tutored outside school. Savvy parents know kids get in to the best middle schools but too much "catch up" is required. If you can afford tuition & pricey Westside tutors, don't hesistate. The administration says the school produces "leaders," "kids with good self esteem," "creative thinkers" but never any mention of TOP STUDENTS. FYI Schoolwide standardized test scores not shared openly nor exact number of middle school acceptances. There are nice kids but many not challenged to their potential. Some great teachers but teams/curriculum uneven & some teachers should really go. Focus groups with non-donor parents & alumni needed.