New facility with pretty design and pallet. Academics in UDA middle school have suffered for years with continued changes and turn over. They are adding a high school, IDEATE without having a strong middle school. Focus for our elementary and middle school kids will not get better. Cohesive academics with a clear path to higher education is not apparent. Until we recognize that we have a retention problem we will continue to engage in a costly annual recruitment and hiring cycle, pouring more and more teachers into our classrooms only to lose them at a faster and faster rate. This will continue to drain our school’s dollars, it will undermine teaching quality, and it will most certainly hinder our ability to close student achievement gaps particularly in math, technology and science. However, UDA does compensate for this by attrition of needier and naturally lower performing students. The attrition is achieved through an inequitable discipline policy coupled with inequitable rewards assuring that non desired students are clearly shown the exit. Rather than retain its better performing teachers that require slightly larger salaries and better benefit packages, it is more cost effective to encourage students that need stronger performing educators to find a school that may be a better fit for them. This is an ethical line that is crossed without sight of the moral impact. Our new facility is built on a culture of quicksand.
A bit difficult to answer this. We have been fortunate to have very good in fact exceptional teachers with only one impactful and " herendous " teacher in this regard. It seems that the turn over is very high compared to many other schools.
For historical information the post 6/8 is a MUST READ. I found much information I did not know about UDA.
Community: As stated several times, UDA has very involved families. Possibly a bit difficult to get into the inner circle.
Math Science : I have seen improvements with the curriculum but still lacking for middle school.
UDA does compensate by paying for outside science programs.
Performing Arts: A constant complaint from most of the kids that we are friends with. The new hire this year admittedly needs additional training dealing with students.
PE/Sports: The newly built UDA facility has limited space to really play multiple games even at recess. The physical education team really do their best with the limited space and resources they have.
Administration: The amount of principals in just the last three years is beyond defense. The principal from 2016 is not returning next fall. The 2015 principal stepped down after maternity leave and returned as the CEO. The principal from 2014 did not have her contract renewed. The principal from 2013 left to go teach in a different school. The 2008-2012 principal was let go directly after she ensured UDAs charter would be renewed for five more years.
New High School: Fall 2016 will be the first year UDA has a ninth grade. I do not understand how UDA will afford to have high quality teachers for each subject, an entire administration and principal for only one class of students. UDA has had a long journey to get its middle school achieving just within the average range.
The only constant at UDA has been its board of directors. It is the assumption of some that the decision to add IDEATE now was in part the catalyst to have one of them finally step down. With him leaving it is feared that also leaves a strong voice of reason.
This could be a good school for you. If the lack of organized sports is not a deal breaker as it is for us I would encourage you to go for a tour. If you have a girl that enjoys the arts or a boy who is well spoken and social plus you have ample time to volunteer and are willing to donate many dollars instead of paying private school tuition, UDA could be a goldmine of a find. You will meet some terrific people at UDA.
Good luck on your search. Keep in mind that all schools will have pros and cons and your kids will be most influenced by you.
Awards: Over the last four years boys are often forgotten when it comes to awards without regard to how hard they work and what result is achieved. It is nice to see so many girls get awards and encouragement. This has also been a parent topic for multiple year. I am satisfied that UDA has given our student a clear understanding of real world politics.
Discipline: I have found personally that discipline is not fair. It often depends who your kid is, who is on watch, and school politics. My son is particularly rowdy and in need of more space to get his energy out. Even so, he wrestled his friend on the playground and his friend bit him. Neither students were suspended. The other parent received a phone call home. I did not. I heard about it from the other child’s parent. I wish my son had told me. He didn’t want to get his friend in trouble for biting. A different student was suspended for kicking his friend in the leg. Discipline has been a big topic among parents this last school year.
Teachers: UDA teachers have been upstanding for kindergarten to fifth grade. Middle school has been left wanting. Asking the parents for donations to improve teachers’ salaries was a red flag. I am ok with fundraisers to improve facilities, field trips and even better tools. Teachers’ salaries should be the first priority before anything else in my opinion. Not surprisingly the turnover is unusually high even compared to many other charters. In the four years we have been with UDA only one of my child’s teacher will still be teaching next fall.
It is a great school for many. Four star post June 8 2016 below explains it best. It also clearly explains several other ratings. There are some very good families at UDA. Our family unfortunately feels that It is best if we leave. We have many friends at UDA that we adore and hope to see often outside of school. Note that our 3 star rating is only a rating about our families experience. I have often tried to figure out who wrote what. For that reason I will end with ROCK ON.
I have found that our school has fair and strong discipline policies that make sure our children can focus and learn without distraction of disruptive kids. Honesty is awarded and bullying is not allowed. As a society I feel that we overly compensate kids that have no desire for success.