As an Alum and a former teacher at Poly, I never seen a community that has suffered so seriously from a lack of community and lack of identity. The problems are pervasive at Poly. The is much potential here for a truly great school, but I witnessed such a lack of ethics, that I would never consider sending my own child here.
As a parent and alum, I have been so disappointed in Poly. The administration seems to have been dazzled by being on some national top list years ago and have have apparently forgotten what is important in a school, which is developing intellectual, engaged, and decent people. Instead, Poly is curating efficient students who can get the scores and AP credits needed to attend a specific type of university. The end result is a group of entitled, cliquey, and unintellectual students--I have personally seen children transfer to Poly who start as lovely kids and become worse people over the years. At Poly, children learn very well how to follow instructions and strive for good grades, without being engaged in what they are learning. No joy of learning here. It seems as if teachers have stopped actually teaching--they just assign tasks and give scores. The culture is a very competitive one, but in a strangely hidden way, because although the students are not allowed to discuss grades, scores and grades are literally the only type of feedback they are given. There is a huge secret culture of students being tutored outside of school; if your child has any type of difficulty, the teacher informs the parent, who is expected to figure out a solution. Children do not become better people for having attended this school, just more efficient students, with levels of cheating that are surprisingly high. The administration feels dysfunctional, resulting in poor organizational transparency, poor communication, and inconsistent expectations and feedback for kids. There seems to be no overarching plan, regarding character or curriculum, except get kids into the right type of schools. We have had two teachers we thought were pretty dedicated and passionate, but mostly have had an unpleasant experience with what feels like a chaotic, poorly run school with little vision and clarity of mission. It seems to be resting on its laurels and congratulating itself on its high number of applicants, good endowment, and good exmissions. NB: the good exmissions numbers tend to come from students who enter at high school.
Unethical admissions policy. The school accepted applications and made students go through the extensive application process and emotional turmoil despite the fact there were no attrition available at all for the grade level applied!! They should have advised as soon as they confirm there will be no openings available in the grade level and refund the applicants' money.
I am a graduate and a parent. I found the education excellent. The school creates an open caring environment. The lower and middle school provide a reasonable academic emphasis - particularly as compared to it's more aggressive counter-parts in the community. The upper school will prepare one for college with a true liberal arts emphasis while providing quality scientific education. There is a true Poly community not found elsewhere.
Poly is fine in the lower grades, but not a school for everyone in the Upper School. The teachers are inconsistent in terms of quality. While some are good, most are just acceptable. The students are pressured by their parents (and the school) to workworkwork. And work some more. If that's what you want, perhaps you should ask your child what she wants. Also, if you want your child to attend a highly selective school (and later college), perhaps you should (again) ask your child. It's her life after all. We regret choosing Poly. Based on many talks with friends who also have kids at Poly, it is clear there are many unhappy folks here.
Poly is a good school & has an excellent reputation in the University community; it does well preparing its upper-tier students for the next level of academia. It's lower school is good, & its middle school is just okay. The lower school Dir. is excellent & she has done an outstanding job improving the curriculum & weeding out the teachers that were not up to snuff. The middle school Dir. is average at best. Many of the Poly "lifers" are the average students in high school: while Poly won't likely be forthright in its admission of this fact, the major of the higher level students that graduate are not those that started in K. Regarding the athletic program: the AD is poor at best, & Poly is successful despite itself b/c the majority of kids have the means for coaching/teams outside the school. Don't expect athletic development here. If your child is interested in being a higher level 'student-athlete' look elsewhere. The consensus amongst teachers & parents is that the departure of the current headmaster, will be most-welcomed. Poly has had many kids leave the last few years b/c the school is rigid, & does not do a good job accommodating different learning styles or personalities.
Poly is an academically strong school, but really only works for kids who learn by traditional methods. Any students with learning disabilities are "counseled out" pretty quickly. We watched them vanish over the years. Teachers vary as in most schools, but we were always surprised that so many weak teachers remained at a school that charges a tremendously high tuition. Kids are expected to fit into a mold, catillion style - many of them actually attend catillion. The economically "diverse" population is really upper class to the richest of the rich with a few token financial aid families and some teachers' children. Cultural diversity is really, really limited. Compare to any public school and you will see that your children will miss out on meeting lots of different types of friends. While there our children were happy, but often stressed by the workload. Left after middle school and a whole new world opened up to them. Glad for the academic foundation from Poly and very glad to have moved onto another view of the world.