All in all, I think the teachers are effective (basing this off of the current middle school teachers) There is one teacher though that just isn't effective. Her units are only 1 week long at max, which might seem ok, but topics like The Cold War or the Vietnam War shouldn't only take a week. She never seems to know what she's doing or quite frankly how to teach. She only ever gives us a packets or power points. At first, It didn't seem so bad. But when we started getting into the year, I kept finding myself asking questions that she couldn't answer, or didn't know anything about. (This is the middle school social studies teacher currently)
Compared to other Middle school, yes, ACS does give a lot of homework. For example: 30 problems of math a night (150 problems of math a week), and 30 problems of grammar a week. This is just the consistent homework load. Depending on the time of year, homework can take up to 2.5 hours to complete.(Not all the time) Recently, out social studies teacher gave us 4 packets and 2 readings on the Vietnam War which was way too much for most of us to handle in one night. I'm not saying that the homework load is always overwhelming, but compared to other schools, this definitely a lot.
Personally, as a student of this school I say that it has been preparing me well for high school academically. I have been going to this school for about 8 years now. Elementary was great, but as soon as I got into middle school things changed. It seems like there would be a little bit more mutual respect, but as I have found out, that gap actually closed. We are treated even younger than how I remember in elementary. The assistants are absolutely outrageous in the manner that they are treating 6th,7th and 8th grade. Even our main teachers don't seem to understand the level of restriction they put us at. Putting that aside, I do believe that I have more than just an edge between myself an students who go to Mesa or Castle Rock Middle School academically. Because of the high expectations, I believe that we are all excelling. Honestly, the academics are the only thing I like about ACS after attending it for so long.
Academically, this school thrives and it prepares students very well for high school. It is also strong in after-school athletics. However; I feel it lacks a balanced approach to developing the whole child. Too much emphasis is given to testing, grammar over literature, and busy-work homework, resulting in unnecessary stress to students who are not getting enough time in outdoor physical activity during the school day. Additionally, respect and kindness needs to be modeled by ALL adults. In middle school, my child was hesitant to ask questions in a class because of the condescending way in which the teacher would answer students' questions. Also, some of the teachers were inflexible when it came to offering accommodations for children with learning differences. My children's early primary years at ACS were wonderful; teachers seemed happy (there was a different admin then), but things changed in the later years. ACS middle school needs more electives (home economics, drama, and health.), recess, and more opportunities for students to develop collaboration and critical thinking skills.
The teachers/academics/families are phenomenal. Unfortunately, the school is not well-governed. The Dean is confrontational and condescending. The governing board does not represent the students or parents but consistently side with and defend the Dean. The tipping point was the PARCC/CMAS testing where children were penalized for opting out by being marked as unexcused and ineligible to participate in sports. This school was one of only 2, out of 80 in DCSD, to do this despite the voice of parents/communicty/district and state support. Also, there are financial transparency issues where two entities (Castle Rock LifeLong Learning Center and The ACS Foundation) receive substantial amounts of grand funds but they are unaudited (see financials published on school website). There are 4 business entities associated with the school and 4 separate sets of financials turned into the disctrict, but the financials listed on the school website are a separate set. The funds are not invested into the students as is apparent with the outdated technology and lack of interactive equipment. The science teacher had to do a fundraiser just to buy 2 $200 microscopes.
My oldest son has been at ACS K-8. This school reflects a community atmosphere, where each student is part of the school, not just part of a classroom. Various staff members personally greet and say good bye to students before and after the school day. Teachers are experienced and attentive to student needs. Students are offered Spanish, advanced math options, an excellent science program, as well as an exceptional well rounded education. Middle school (6-8) offers the option of participating in a variety of after school sports and increased rigor in core disciplines as well as "specials" such as music, computers, and art. It is a safe environment for kids to spread their wings! My older son is now looking forward to starting the IB program next year at DCHS. My younger son is having the same positive experience at ACS. Over the last eight years I have worked with the Dean through roles on the school's SAC, PTO, etc. She has remained open-minded, professional and accommodating. Though we have passionately disagreed on more than one occasion, my kids, my husband, nor myself, have ever been subjected to vindictiveness.
My, my! Look at the campaign somebody went on last spring to get a slew of people to put up 5-star reviews. The dean has issues. She is unfair, vindictive, and behaves in underhanded and inflammatory ways to seemingly innocent issues. Last spring: Upset parents and mass exodus from the school=low approval ratings. No wonder she needed to get some 5-star reviews up in a hurry. Control and power direct her behavior and communications above all else. I have seen her make ridiculous, baseless claims to discredit parents who have contributed lots of service hours to this school so she could win her point. I have watched this dean vindictively sneak behind the school board's back in order to undermine students' academic success. The school would benefit greatly if she learned to be fair and get over herself. She knows how to keep the board in her pocket with her well-practiced, two-faced behavior (they can vote her out). The school also struggles to practice the Love and Logic techniques they purport to follow. The teachers (they have been wonderful here) have it figured out in the microcosm of their classrooms, but the aides have made poor choices at a grade/school-wide level.
ACS is a good tight nit community, they are always looking out for one another. I went to the school from K-8th grade. Did i want to go to another school at the time? of course i did. i mean what 5-8th grade kid wants to wear uniforms...? but I'm glad i didn't, personally i think i got the better education then looking at some friends who did not attend a charter school. My class alone has had a girl go onto Stanford University, someone else went to Westmont a private college. Every school is going to have their fair share of rotten apples, teaches who just have no spark left in them and they are only in it for a pay check, to say this school doesn't have a few of those would be untrue. that doesn't mean that the school is awful or unfit for ones child/children. Majority of the teaching staff loves what they do and are happy doing it. Bullying has been an issue in the past but the school is making great strides to eliminate the problem.
All of my students middle school teachers word hard and are active outside of just the classroom, they are truly invested in making sure that every student has a place in the school community Yes, the students come home with homework and yes, they are held to high expectations. Each teacher has been easy to communicate with and provides my student with engaging and high quality learning. Two of my students have gone through ACS and are now in high school, one is in 7th grade; all have had great educational experiences. As a parent I am thankful to have a community that is so close and one in which I can actively be a part of regularly. We love our school and love our teachers!