Great for some, less so for others. After three years of high school, we will be moving on for senior year, as a lot of other students have done. This year the school has become mired in challenges that have led our Junior to plead for another school. Issues include: 1. An almost complete lack of interest in STEM with no participation in GATE or the other great programs in the region. Their participation in Project Lead the Way is a joke with students often knowing more than the teacher assigned to the class. 2. Ongoing staff turnover that has led to a highly inconsistent learning and classroom environment. 3. Inexperienced staff that believe that punishment is an effective tool in modifying behavior 4. A complete lack of interest in the student as an individual. As "His Excellency" Dan Ordaz is fond of saying, "your child is only one of 500" If your child is one of those who can be driven into the mold, then this might be a great school for you. If you child is growing into a thoughtful adult and developing critical thinking skills, they will have a hard time with the authoritarian and hypocritical discipline.
There was a parent post a year ago that stated there is no funding in this charter for students with disabilities. That may have been relayed by the school, but a quick call to The Office of Civil Rights will correct that misconception. Charters are public funded. Under FAPE, and IDEA, schools cannot discriminate. Regardless of disability, ALL students are equally allowed a free, public education. There IS funding available for ALL assistance if a need is shown. UPA may not necessarily want to tell you this so there academic rates remain high and consistent, but under the law, you can request, and receive, any supports deemed necessary for your child to succeed at a level accustomed by their peers. Sometimes you have to fight for what your child needs. UPA is a very challenging school, but they cannot legally turn away students because of disability.
As a graduate of this school that attended this school from it's opening day until my graduation day, and as an alumnus that has continued on as a college student, and as a member of the staff of this school's parent organization, I can say from personal experience that this school is a great concept that is growing to it's potential.
Wonderful School! I truly love sending my kids there and they love going there too! If they went to a public middle or high, they wouldn't be as happy and neither would be me. In UPA, everybody gets along with each other and I have NOT heard of any bullying going on. This school provides everything you need, be it counseling, helpful teachers, etc. UPA is sure to not disappoint! Parent involvement is great, parents have to do 60 hours of community service per school year! I would recommend this school to anybody!
If you are heading to high school and are looking at an alternative to the public schools in the area and you have a student who wants to get into college, UPA is worth a look. There are also a number of things that I wish we had better understood on the way in. These include: - This school is run by the Ordanz family and you need to be very careful of crossing any of the family members. His Highness Dan is the Executive Director and truly has little time for the little people (like parents). - Dan's wife and son are also employed by the school and the son in particular tends to throw his weight around - This is NOT a school for super achievers. There is no GATE programming, and little interest in doing anything that Dan Ordanz did not come up with himself. - This is a school for the average to slightly above average kid who wants to get into college and the school has an excellent track record there. The school has more interest in athletics than in any of the serious extra-curricular STEM activity. No participation in MakerFaire, GATE, Tech Challenge or other STEM type activitys.
This is my sixth year going to UPA. I have been given the amazing privilege of attending UPA since seventh grade, and believe me, not everyone is as fortunate. I previously went to charter school which was rated higher than UPA. But, I performed far better at UPA than I did at a charter school which was rated higher and more popular among my community. The teachers all guided me when I needed help in my seventh, eighth, and ninth grade year, but when they know it is best to let go and let you taste the rigors of collage, thats when you realize UPA is the BEST learning environment. Also, the small learning environment is most effective. I have about 19 students (including me) in my Spanish and the most I have in one of my classes is 26 students. Addressing the comments about the intense education, the people posting this probably were involved in one or more of these situations: a. their child came in 9th grade or later and was not prepared since they were not used to the learning style from students who attended in 8 and 7 grade b. they attended without knowing their own child mental capacity (that's the cold truth, your child needs to put 200%. TV is foreign after sophomore year.
As a graduate of University Preparatory academy, and one of the thirteen students that attended the school from its opening year all the way through graduation, I can say from experience that this school has a roughly equal amount of pros and cons. UPA says in its missions statement that it focuses on the students and aims to help its students reach high-achieving schools. This is all true. Many esteemed graduates of UPA have made it to some of the most prestigious colleges in the nation. UPA has one of the highest API Scores in the Silicon Valley. These achievements are due to the incredible staff of caring, attentive teachers. However, as a former student, I believe that this school has focused too much on preparing students for tests, primarily standardized tests, rather than encouraging the students to grow in knowledge and wisdom, in order to be the best students they can be. Essentially, when all is accounted for, the most important thing to this school is the numbers. Not the students, not the teachers, but the test scores and the graduation rate. --Submitted by an alumni
UPA. I have to strongly disagree with the last two posts regarding UPA. This is our 3rd year and we could not be happier after having a horrible experience at the overcrowded and underachieving district public schools. UPA teachers are consistently at school, are always available for students, and stay after school. They are some of the best teachers I have ever come across. Age has nothing to do with quality, and this IS what you get at UPA. It is a school for students who want to do well, and plan to attend a 4 year University after graduation. The reason the school is rated so well is because students and teachers put in extra effort to be successful. There are students who need assistance, but the level of academics is not for everyone. Students are expected to keep pace or they will fail. This is the premise of the school. This is not a school that pushes students ahead who should not be. Parents who want their children pushed ahead when they don't know the work and don't agree with the work ethic, should consider a less challenging school.
UPA - They have a lot of inexperienced teachers that seem overzealous; they give lots of homework, give tests above the grade level and won't hesitate to fail the student even if they've passed all the tests. Anything turned in late results in a failure. I've observed egregious academic impropriety with one teacher. It seems that their oversight is seriously lacking.
This school is great for high-achieving academic students who are already doing great in the system. However, for those of us who were told in the past we only needed to have a fourth-grade reading level to get in, those who are dyslexic or have any other special needs are being told they cannot help them. There is no funding for such things in Charter Schools as they get less public funding than other schools. Even with the new LCFF promising more money, they have no faith of that happening in this year.