I'm reading a book about how to best learn math and science right now, and the book mentions the importance of homework in these fields in particular, to cement abstract learning into chunks and understand how it is used in the real world. When homework was given at DCS, it was pretty good (not just busywork), but since it was only given once every 3 weeks on average, it didn't really fulfill its purpose. I ended up having to teach or review many concepts at home, because my child was not given adequate teaching in class to understand a concept, and not given homework to help practice it either. Often he DID understand a concept, but then didn't get any homework to be able to practice it, so he forgot it! I would end up teaching him a concept TWICE, which was completely irritating.
This depends on your student. My oldest child would have really appreciated more structure, and more feedback in the form of grades. He was never really sure of how he was doing. He would have liked clearer goals to strive towards. Many times at DCS he felt like there was no point in persisting or showing grit, since there were no consequences for failures, and no rewards for extra work. Despite attending DCS for his entire elementary school experience (and being encouraged in intrinsic motivation at home), he is still fairly externally motivated, and looks for external signs of his success.
In the classroom there is very little respect shown to the teachers or presenters. Even in 5th grade, in one of the more structured classrooms, I had a very difficult time getting the students to quiet down and not talk over me when I was guest teaching, and these are kids that I have known since kindergarten. It is a frustrating and stressful environment for those who do best without noise and distractions, as there are always noise and distractions in the classroom, and this is accepted as normal.
They do work on conflict resolution for several weeks at the beginning of the year, and throughout the year. Since there are no grades, there is no real need to cheat. But I wouldn't say that it's a fair environment. There is some favoritism, and the rules are not always clear or fairly enforced.
If you can handle parent participation this is an excellent school, creating the most well rounded students. We love the focus on emotional and social development while achieving the highest academic standards.
We have been in DCS for more than 5 years now and the direction that the Campus at DCS I is taking makes us glad we are leaving. What was once was a vibrant and passionate school has turned into a bureaucracy under the complete lack of leadership of Dale Jones and Debby Perry. The "executive director" appears ready to close the middle school and focus on the elementary (K-5) which has allowed him to functionally abandon the middle school students and their teachers. We have been forced to pay for outside tutoring in order to make up fo rthe math deficits our kids have suffered at this school. While DCS is a developmental school, it is no longer hitting the basics. Very sad to see.
We have been at DCS for 6 years, my daughter went from 3rd grade to 8th Grade. There are times when I have been concerned about the academics, it looked like she wasn't learning and homework was minimal even through Middle School. I knew my daughter had grown to be self confident, could advocate for herself and loved going to school each day, but worried about how she would be in a big public high school. The first year is nearly over and she is doing incredibly well! She has a 4.0 GPA and has loved playing team sports year round. She summed it up with "I didn't just learn random stuff at Discovery, I learned how to learn, how to ask questions and to find answers myself". Academics are not traditional at Discovery, and kids are expected to learn to the best of their ability, not to a level that someone else decides is good enough. Graduating students (from all that I've heard) go on to great success in High School both socially and academically, with or without tutors. (We couldn't afford tutors and didn't need to with any of my three children through their Discovery education). Discovery isn't for every child unless you are looking for something more than a test score.
I am proud of our school. We have been here since its inception, understanding the philosphy of the school. It is light on homework, but the upside is that it has given us the time to have piano lessons, dance class, swim team, and other activities without feeling stressed. The school's API scores have always been in the 900's . we do not do outside academic classes. My eighth grader is taking geometry.