There are big problems ahead for ISD due to big bets placed by the current self-serving board who foolishly invests in new buildings and school signage rather than investing in the underlying academic programming and better teacher salaries that would lead to improved student outcomes. If the board worked instead to improve the English program, they would then solve their problem of low retention rates from K-5 into their middle school. Currently, numbers are down and they cannot get lift-off in their middle school because parents lack confidence in the school's ability to get their K-5th graders to grade level in English. Of course, learning a target language is the big draw for the school but parents do not want their children lagging behind their American peers. The school constantly posts information about bilingual benefits, and that students "catch up" in English in later grades, but that is not enough for most parents at the school. The administration is completely unresponsive to such academic issues in the early grades, and the head of school instead has focused on writing mission statements and cosmetic school changes rather than on creating a cohesive English curricula for K-5 students. Additionally, the administration refuses to provide math supplement in the English program to bridge any gaps between language programs, and as a result, there appears to be differences in math performance between programs. Moreover, the writing program in English is weak -- there are very few writing assignments given in early grades, and there are no teacher edits or grading of student written work. In fact, nothing has come home from class to show written work done by students. The students who are excelling in English and math go to Kumon or Mathnasium and / or have parents who work with them in these subjects at home. The language teachers' herculean efforts are undercut by the board's lack of focus on improving the one thing that matters long-term, a great American education with experienced teachers to complement the amazing immersion experience.
I completely agree with the parent who submitted the review on May 11th relating to the unresponsive administration and highly political board. The school does have extraordinary pre K-3rd grade immersion language teachers who go above and beyond the call of duty, but the changes in administrative personnel have made the experience awful for many parents who have voiced their concerns. The head of school will not have a meeting with multiple parents on academic issues and instead prefers a single parent in meetings with her supporting staff. In my book, that's a bullying technique meant to intimidate a parent into submission. If you voice any contrary opinion at the school about any academic or social issue, the administration / board attempt to silence or push you out rather than acknowledge any issues and provide steps for improvement. The board is politically-minded, and uses the school to carry out initiatives that benefit them personally. For example, the board has charged the administration with creating "differentiated" learning tracks (i.e., gifted instruction) because it directly benefits the board's children. This is not what ISD was all about, and it feels like an abuse of the board's position. Ironically, most "differentiated" learning has arisen because of the lack of math foundation taught and shoddy English curriculum taught in the earlier grades that the current administration have failed to improve. In particular, the English program is cobbled together by individual teachers who treat the subject like an elective, and curriculum used in many cases comes from free online websites. While some kids in Mandarin have excelled (in math) due to their country-specific program, many Spanish and French students have been left behind. The school is changing academically without diverse parental input as the administration and board choose to ignore these viewpoints. Lastly, the board seems more preoccupied with growth (in terms of student body / facilities) rather than improving the quality of academic programs. They need to be preoccupied with something far more valuable to the school going forward: good will.
This used to be a "great school" but unfortunately now has become simply awful. The early grades are still reasonably okay because the teachers are good. BUT starting from 4th grade on, there is a general disarray with multiple teachers who despite small class sizes have no idea how individual students are doing, unresponsive administration, dysfunctional and highly political board. I can't wait till this year is over and our kids go to a proper school. Unfortunately I believe that other than in language, they will be very unprepared for entry into the American school system especially in science and math and even basic social skills.
Genuinely the only truly 'International' school in Denver. A wonderful new Head of School and Assistant Head have arrived this year and they are bringing wonderful expertise to an already fantastic school. As a parent I feel as though my children are benefiting from a multicultural and multilingual education.
The fees are remarkably inexpensive for the quality of education offered. The class sizes are small and the attention given to each student is really excellent. I feel that my children are growing each day.
The new Head of School, Ms. Denny, is a strong supporter of Carol Dweck's work on a growth mindset and she shared this with the parent community at a recent event. I find this to be a very exciting turn of events of ISD as there seems to be genuine thought leadership at the school presently.
I have noticed an improvement in recess supervision and general student behaviour this year. The school leaders quickly respond to queries and act in a very thoughtful way. The learning environment is excellent this year. I like how the young people are learning about how to be risk-takers, inquirers and reflective learners.
Many parents still have a concern regarding the quality of math and science teaching. The school have tried to address this topic this year but I understand there are difficulties in finding the best fit between the different national curricula and parental expectations. It was pleasing to hear at a Middle School entry night that the student exit Grade 8 with outstanding terra nova scores in Math.
The school has incredible, highly qualified, dedicated, and experienced immersion teachers. Language curricula is fully aligned with and accredited by the French, Chinese and Spanish governments. Parents are provided with weekly journals to see progress made in class, which includes extensive material completed by students. On the English side, there is room improvement in curriculum content and delivery. However, the school just hired an excellent 4th grade English teacher so it's moving in the right direction. As for behavioral issues mentioned on this site, the school is working on how to manage children during times of transition (recess, hallways), and currently, there are plans underway to improve supervision and foster positive values at ISD. In sum, the school offers excellent Immersion education with room for improvement in English instruction and student behavior. It's been a valuable learning experience for my child.
We moved to Colorado to get our girls in this institution. We saw it won recognition as a great Spanish School. My girls Spanish is good, we are native speakers. However, the non Spanish speaking children have serious weaknesses in their language skills. After two years in this school, my girls developed some issues in their oral expression.
Beyond the lack of good Spanish instruction, this school lacks supervision, kids run wild during recess, bullying, accidents and other incidents are common. Curriculum is weak. It is true what others said, changing schools is hard because the level of English is even worst than the Spanish they teach.
My girls are now in a caring, nurturing school. They have tutors there to help their English, not only the language arts, but also the science and math that was far behind their peers. We only regret not leaving sooner.