Our kids typically have a bit more homework than others in the neighborhood, but I find that it helps us stay connected to what they are learning in school. I think it is an adequate amount and necessary to reinforce what they are learning in the classroom. It is not more than 10 minutes per night per grade - typically.
We choose to send our kids to Excel even though we live in a neighborhood attendance area of a Great Schools score 9 school. Why? Because we love the charter school experience and the energy and excitement of Excel's staff is inspiring. Personally, I have worked as an educator in the large public non-charter schools and have often felt stifled as the school was unable to make changes it needed to with hands tied by district policies. Excel is able to function more freely, while still adhering to some basic district regulations that puts me at ease. It is the perfect balance for us of regulated education, with alternative methodology and approaches to challenges available - which allows them to avoid that stifled feeling. Our family has been here for 3 years and I have served on committees with other parents and staff and have been so encouraged by the maturity of the relationships. This is a school where it is OK to have different opinions and still work in the same building - constructively. Healthy staff makes for a very accepting place for students of all backgrounds. My introverted gifted child and my extroverted play -based learner both are excelling here. And when there are bumps in the road, I have never felt pushed away when I took a concern to the teachers or Director. They are always working to grow and I so appreciate that about this school. Excel feels like a small private school where I can be a part of a community. My kids feel the same way and have grown in confidence immensely since attending here.
After having my oldest start at Great Schools 10 score rated school, we decided to move him to Excel. It is probably the best thing we could have done. My oldest is gifted, and pull out was the only option for differentiation at the previous school. At Excel, regardless of the grade level he was in, his abilities were met with above level challenges and material when needed. We have been there for 5 years now, and my daughter came in through early access, is now in second grade and she too has had an amazing educational experience. My children have LOVED, their teachers, and it has translated into their love of learning which is more important to me than how well they actually do. While transition of staff has been a bit challenging, the staff and administration are all very hard working and dedicated. While not everyone has had the same experience at Excel, I can say from personal experience that there is substantial differentiation, more than at the other highly ranked school, and this continues to improve as the new director is able to facilitate more opportunities and resources to meet the needs of all of the various levels of need. While some have concern about the 80 hours of volunteer requirement, I have found that it faciliates a more well rounded environment for parents to participate, and not just leave all of the work for a few families who are willing to give. As far as the volunteers not having background checks, yes as a former county social worker, I can understand the concern. However, volunteers are always with the children in a public setting.
I suppose I may be different in that I don't expect the school to be the sole educator for my children. I expect to be involved constantly, put my face in front of the teacher, don't just evaluate a school based on test scores alone, and water the grass in my own yard rather than look over the fence! My children could be in a gifted center school, yet we have chosen Excel for its exceptional staff, mixed age classrooms, curriculum, administrative accessibility, small class size, and middle school option. While life at Excel is not perfect, most are willing to help it grow and improve OVER TIME. Personally I know we would love to see less of the standardized testing! But that's what gets you ranked right???
My daughter has been at Excel for almost five years! The teachers and staff treat her and all the children like family. The children are well loved and encouraged to be their best. It's a very academic environment but they do a ton of fun hands on activities.
I am a Grandparent of a child at Excel Academy. I've worked in schools for 25 years and sent my own children to private schools. Feeling it was the best academic and social place for my children, I never wanted to send them to any of the other schools I worked in. Excel is the exception, my Grandchild LOVES his school, he is further ahead academically than his cousins in private ed...Socially, he has made friends who are wonderful, sweet, smart and love being at Excel as well! I could not say enough about Excel Academy!!