For a Chicago public school, this is an amazing school. Teachers are caring and experienced. Administrators are attentive. Kids are a group of bright, well-balanced diverse group with very supporting families. PTA is very active. My child always looks forward to going to school. She feels sad when she has to miss school. I just wish they receive more $ to do what they can do. Also, there is no 7th and 8th grade...yet. Also, they teach one grade above...not like some gifted programs that teach 2 grades above.
We have spent almost 3 yrs at the school, going mostly through material review, except for Latin, new to us. If all students are like my child, which my child's teachers say this is so, then all of our children are terribly under-served. Our teachers and administrators go by the book and teach one grade ahead to the test. There is no differentiated instruction. Spelling seems to be taught via word families, not via spelling rules. Writing is expected, but I do not get much sense that it is being taught. Nevertheless, the students are bright, well mannered and come from very supportive families. Chess club is strong, successful, and we do enjoy it. I wish the school would offer other such quality, progressive, programs, before or after school, like robotics, debate team, math or writing club. I wish the school would make connections with reputable universities or on-line educational sites so the students could test out from knowledge they know and then be allowed to move forward in gaining new knowledge. However, with the current administration this will not happen. It is all about the test scores and they are fine.
My son is a proud 5th grader at DECATUR and Our Family is ecstatic that he is a part of this great learning institution! He has been attending DECATUR since kindergarten and we are just as excited now as we were when he was accepted. I am very assured that when it is time for him to leave for 7th grade he will be EXTREMELY WELL PREPARED to handle a work load of an 8th grader and for that I am truly grateful; and as parents isn't that what we are looking for in a school?... A learning environment in which our children are PROPERLY PREPARED FOR LEARNING? I have the privilege to enter many schools to teach a segment on: " HOW TO AFFECTIVELY HELP YOUR CHILDREN WITH HOME WORK" and I also Tutor/ Mentor the children as well. Believe me as I write to you about the lack of: School Morale / Parent Support/ Teachers that lack luster/ and a lack of interest in the students that some schools have ! But not at DECATUR! They have vibrant and interesting teachers. So I am all for a rigorous learning environment that this school offers because the payoff is well worth it and your child will also see the benefit of what and how he was educated as he enters high school and college !
We moved our child here from a private, Blue Ribbon school. I knew the academics would be great but what I didn't know is that they accomplish this with so few resources. There is also a real sense of community. I love the way the school has addressed the heavy backpack problem. The students are learning how to organize their work and to take notes. I am particularly impressed with the math and science classes. They don't just push more faster. The curriculum is enriched. The school really should be expanded. I am sure the powers that be at CPS think the school is doing fine and isn't overcrowded so this isn't a priority. That's not the point. The point is that there are so many students out there who are in desperate need of an education like this but are not served because the school can take so few students.
I love the school. Great education, strong and very creative PTA. My daughter is very happy there. Administration staff, teachers and Parents are very friendly willing to help and answer any question. The Kindergarten teacher (Ms. W) is amazing, she knows how to implement an advance curriculum to young children, keeping them highly motivated, and gives individual instruction when is requiered. The big kids (5th and 6th grade) are very protective, they are always watching over the little ones in the bus or at school. It's small enough to give you the chance to know everybody.
My son was accepted for the incoming 2013 Kindergarten class, so I'm not terribly qualified to review the school, but here are my thoughts so far. The meetings and open houses I've attended so far do give the sense that rule breaking (or even rule bending!) is not tolerated at Decatur. However, I don't see this as being cruelly restrictive. My son, like all Decatur students, is bright, and, like most kids, he tries to negotiate, argue, or weasel his way out of any undesired activity. So, for our family, the strict but fair approach is highly attractive. The school is clean and well-maintained, but small. The parents are extraordinarily involved. My only fear is that, as a working mother of two, I may not be able to keep up with the volunteering that is encourage and that I would love to do. Recently, there was some concern over a "shaming" by the principal. While I am concerned about this, I'm willing to give Mrs. K the benefit of the doubt. We don't know the relationships or circumstances behind what happened, and she apologized (which I appreciate greatly in a person of authority), so it is impossible to judge. I'm excited for my guy to be challenged in new ways.
I could not disagree more with the review of 6/16. My child is happy and well rounded and has never been bullied. I have never heard of another child being bullied. The parents involved in the PTA are extremely welcoming and very nice. Their goal is to make Decatur the best school possible and their creative fundraising efforts continue to make that happen. As of today almost all of the graduating 6th graders have been placed in a 7th grade program that will meet their advanced needs. It is not a school that you leave unless you move or you just can't handle the academically advanced curriculum. It is that good. They don't have to teach to the test because the work they do is so far ahead of what is on it that the test itself is like child's play to those who take it. They don't have a lot of lot of extracurricular activities but that is what the programs at the park district are for. I wouldn't give up this amazing opportunity for my child because of that. After all, it is the responsibility of the parent to see that a child grows up to be a well rounded individual, not the public schools.
While it is an excellent school for many, for us I found it to be lacking. For boys they quickly out grow the school. Unless your children want to be on Latin Club, Chess Club or Choir there really is nothing for boys. The social enrichment aspect for children is just not there. To be well rounded in society learning social cues, being able to get along with others is important too. There is a lot of problems w/ bulling there among the children & parent groups. At our current school it simply is not tolerated. The PTA is very cliquish, the school is very rigid here. They do teach for the test. I find as far as writing/expanded writing they are lacking. We switched to a Magnet, my son & daughter are more challenged, happier, well rounded children now. We have no regrets leaving. For their younger years I think it laid an excellent foundation, after 3 grade we found it to be really lacking. Keep in mind they do not have the best teachers, they have the BEST students & that is the key to their success! Also 30% of their graduating class did not make it into any middle school. With the new tier system it simply does not matter where you attend, but where you live.
I have to give it a 5 star review. My 3rd grader is really getting into brilliant shape academically. He seems to have really developed a passion for learning that all the kids there share. My concern is that he's becoming increasingly neurotic and sometiomes has dark circles under his eyes. He tells me that Decatur "makes him stressed". Still he loves going to school. I figure this school will prepare him for the Ivy League if he chooses, I'm just concerned that there is a high cost. The environment is pretty intense. If your child forgets his lunch or homework, you may not drop it off. There is no loosey-goosey stuff going on here. The devoted PTA feels a little cliquish and a lot of moms just don't want to participate. Still the fundraisers are amazing (this year they did "Disco for Decatur" and even the gym teacher and security guard were up there dancing. It was so fun and had a huge turnout.) Overall, the school is doing an amazing job. Decatur students are famously loved by their new teachers after they graduate because they come out so enthusiastic and positive. Overall, I'm glad we got in.
My son is an alumni of Decatur. I was a full time working mom while he attended. All parents chipped in when they could. Those that could not physically participate found other ways to contribute. Strong parental participation is necessary for any child's success in any school. The work is meant to be difficult just by the very nature of the school. Our son was happy there and we made so many wonderful friends (both teachers and parents). We miss them all!
It is giving my granddaughter a first class education - she informs me of her homework and projects which are great learning tools.
I am now in my 20s and went here for 1st - 6th grade. It was an amazing school with quite a diverse group of kids. Someone posted that there had to be a lot of parent involvement and that teachers assigned huge projects - not true at all. I had a single mom who worked long hours, and did homework on my own. The teaching is what really made the difference. They really invest in each student there. Great memories.
I was told when my daugther tested for this school that she would have to score at the 96th percentile or higher to get accepted. I think Decatur's success is because they are taking the top 4% of students, not because of the quality of teaching. Teachers give lots of homework and large projects to be completed at home. The quality of these projects done at home reflect parental involvement more than students' abilities. If you do not have a stay-at-home parent in you family who is able to devote lots of time to homework help, your child will likely not be able to keep up with the amount of work assigned. Teachers are not sympathetic to working families. I would probably spend less time and get better results if I home-schooled my child.
Amazing community. First rate education. School is in need of resources though.
A small school that has great standards and an unbelievable parent base. The parents redefine 'supportive.'
Decatur is a school full of caring teachers and staff that put their hearts into every minute of teaching. The kids learn how to be well rounded citizens that truly care about learning and the world around them!
Decatur Classical Elementary School is a school where the staff puts in alot of extra effort for the children.
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