Our experience with Baker has been a complete lack of curricular consistency and absolutely no school vision. The school caters to parents instead of children. The administration is unresponsive to the needs of the school and the individual children. We agree, BUYER BEWARE!!
BE CAREFUL! At the end of first grade I was worried abut my child's reading (or lack there of). I decided to have him tested independently and found out the issues were much worse than I thought. I brought my specialists and their reports to a meeting with school administration. All Baker could offer for academic support (weekly) was 60 minutes of group reading support (the recommendation was 120 minutes individual support) and zero speech and language (recommended was 60 minutes weekly). Baker admins sat in that meeting and told me they would turn my child away if they could not meet his needs and yet they cannot even do half of what was recommended by experts and now it is too late to pull him out for this year. So we are THRILLED to be scraping by financially to pay for a school that can't give my child the resources he needs to be successful as a student. BUYER BE WARE!!!!!!!!
We could not be happier with the experience our daughters' have had at Baker. This is a truly progressive school, where education is about meeting the WHOLE child where she is an leading her forward from there. I applaud the school's ability to assist children with social and personal growth as well as intellectual. As middle-class Chicago parents, we were nervous choosing a school with a North Shore address, but Baker is also a dynamic, diverse community of parent's from all over. I could not imagine a better place for our kids to grow.
My children have loved attending Baker Demonstration School. One of them is now in high school and succeeding at every turn. Because of Baker's emphasis on really learning, not just memorizing facts, he feels he is quite ahead of many of his classmates who are working for a grade instead of working to learn new and interesting facts and processes. My kids have especially enjoyed the math curriculum and the arts offerings. The advisory program in the middle school creates a well-balanced, community-oriented student body. Every child is important and at the same time, every group of children is important, too. Teachers go the extra mile to teach and coach the children. If you want your child to succeed in life and be a well-rounded person, Baker is the place for you. We have never regretted our choice (or our commute) to send our children to Baker.
No school is perfect but we like what we see at Baker. This school is probably best suited for kids who do not struggle academically and thus can afford to have a school focus that is based on encouraging creativity, problem solving and social-emotional development rather than needing a primary focus on learning of the fundamentals to pass yearly exams. Yes, some years a Baker kid will have a teacher that leans a bit to the mainstream and yes some other year the kid will have a teacher that may have too much focus on creativity rather than fundamentals, but for the somewhat above average kid, they will be able to weather such variance and by eighth grade will probably come out as a confident, well spoken, creative problem solver that nonetheless still does very well on high school entrance exams and higher level high school classes. Baker is a school for parents who believe that creativity will be the currency of the future and who have the confidence that their children will be able to afford this type of focus and still thrive academically in a traditional high school -- 'tiger moms' need not apply, as the Baker educational experience is decidedly not for everyone.
Too much variation between teachers...they are given too much leeway to direct their own destiny to the detriment of the students. Need some kind of standards for measurement. Not a great bridge to high school.
This is a terrific school! The community is amazing and the children actively participate in their own learning.
Baker is an oasis, teaching in a way that helps children find their passion, enjoy the process of learning, and learn to problem solve in the way that adults do in their jobs. Academic outcomes of Baker kids are very strong, and yet children still learn to problem solve, to find their interests and pursue them, and to self-motivate.
A focus on socialization, progressive learning models, small class sizes. It sounds like a dream come true, right? The only problem is that not all teachers adhere to the standards. My experience has been we'll have three great years, then we'll have a year stuck with a new teacher who still thinks they're at a Chicago Public school--rigidity and lack of creativity. Luckily, we've had more good teachers than bad. A couple of people complained in comments that it's not academically challenging enough for their kids. I know these parents and they're the ones who want rocket scientist kids--I assure you they don't have rocket scientist kids; my son has a child in his class with a genius IQ and he is challenged every day. Baker meets the demands of above-average to incredibly gifted students. I would say that kids who are "average" students tend to flounder at Baker. Most kids are reading proficiently by Kindergarten and leave eighth grade with an excellent grasp on Latin, high level math and science. And the reason I chose Baker in the first place? Daily P.E. and recess. The kids need it and the schools which provide this are fewer and farther between every year.
Like the other poster, we are waiting for additional change to move this school back to what it was 10 years ago. Our kids are more creative based but we worry that they won't get the basics for high school. The teaching approach varies, with some so focused on being out of the box they don't prepare kids for basic science, math, reading, etc. At some point kids have to move to high school and the real world. I would compare curriculum carefully...and look at test scores.
Our kids love Baker. They are excited about learning. When they leave school, it is apparent, they have found ways to continue to hold on to the lessons learned.It's not unusual to hear Spanish songs being sung from the kitchen or to observe the recreation of an innovate game from phys ed. When I found myself engaged in a discussion with my 7 year old about whether any other penguin, but an Emperor penguin would meet the height requirements for rides at Great America, I knew he was making the information his own. And when my older son was as excited about the "Battle of the Books" as he was to compete in a basketball game, I knew Baker was the right place for our kids.
We're surprised at the teacher turnover in the past few years and the difference in the way teaching is applied. Some classes are good, while others are lackluster. It really depends on how your child learns, but there is such a wide gap from grade to grade. Not sure what middle school holds, as many teachers there are new.
We have two children at Baker - a middle schooler and one in the elementary grades. The Baker experience for both my kids has been amazing. The middle school structure - with traveling groups, advisories is a wonderful way to prepare kids for high school. Middle school is a rigorous program that really prepares Baker kids for high school. Many Baker kids move straight to honors and AP classes in high school. I am surprised at the comments that mention free flowing and lack of testing and weak math programs at Baker. I have found that there is a lot of rigor in the curriculum. Baker fosters creativity and an integrated comprehensive approach to learning. Thematic units allow for deeper exploration of key topics, weaving in language arts, drama, music, art, math and social studies. Writing workshops at the 2nd and 3rd grades are "fun" because kids create their own stories and write poetry but in the process are taught to think and reflect. Math homework includes problem solvers and playing math games with friends and parents which ensure that you build critical thinking skills and review basic fundamentals in an effective manner. Baker has been an fantastic experience for us.
This is our third year at Baker, and we have been impressed with the quality of education; dedication of teachers, staff, and the board; and the emphasis on how the "whole child" learns. My children are still little, but they get to interact with older kids, and I have seen how Baker faculty and staff foster kindness, generosity, and service each year in each kid. Not only that, but children are taught *how to think.* I was a good student when I was in school, but "book smart." I would have loved to go to a school that got me thinking creatively from Day One, and I am so glad my kids get to experience that at Baker.
This school works for those of us who don't want a lot of academic pressur. The focus is on free flowing creative work, but not on testing and keeping up with the North Shore school systems. My kids like it, but I do wonder how we fare without much testing. Could be a concern when we get to middle school and have to think about study habits, high school, etc.
I, also, am surprised by the recent negative reviews. We have had our two daughters at Baker going on 8 years, and have ridden the ups and downs of the school's transition to independence and search for strong leadership. We couldn't be happier that we hung in when times were tough. The current Head of School has a deep understanding of what progressive education is and can be, and is gracefully bringing that to bear at Baker. Both old and new staff seem to view him with great respect, as do the parents I know. Enthusiasm at the student, teacher, admin and parent level are the highest we've experienced. We are particularly pleased with the increased focus and funding for science and technology at all levels, as well as the new Spanish teacher. The Middle School faculty, many of them relatively new, have been very impressive, and we are thrilled to have our eldest daughter come home excited to teach us about Latin! While it is easy to get stuck in the mindset of times gone by, truth be told, Baker has entered a new era of growth and dynamism which is palpable to those who experience it.
I am a current parent at Baker with one child in Middle School and one in the primary grades. I'm thrilled and impressed by the current leadership. In fact, I'm surprised at the harsh reviews of October 22. The parents I've spoken with are really excited about the health, dynamism and direction of the school. It's true, it took Baker some time to get this leadership team in place, but the current line-up is stronger than it's ever been. Further, the quality of education, particularly at the current middle school, far outshines what my oldest son experienced in the public school system.
We have been extremely pleased with our Baker experience. After struggling in a public school, our daughter has thrived at Baker because of competent and dedicated teachers, differentiated instruction, and an incredible student:teacher ratio. On the occasions that I've met with the head of school, he's been thoughtful and engaged. He clearly loves children and can often be found in the classroom. This school is a gem.
I continue to be amazed by what students are doing, every day, at Baker. My own children have never been more engaged in school, nor enjoyed school so much, as they do now. If you are considering a thoughtful, progressive approach to education for your child, visiting Baker should be your first step. Don't take others' word for it, come see for yourself the incredibly special school that Baker is for students and families alike.
Please come to hear the Baker-hosted series on Progressive Education open to all and free of charge. Noted scholars and educators such as Bena Kallick, author of Habits of Mind: Teaching and Assessing What Matters, will present topics for educators and parents. First one is 10/24/11 with local professor Linda Tafel, "Nurturing the Soil & Sowing the Seeds of Progressive Education in Chicago..." Thanks to our excellent faculty and our nationally-acclaimed Head of School, Baker is connected to current discussions, and bringing the best practices into the classrooms.
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The Community Rating is the school’s average rating from its community members (e.g., parents, students, and school staff). The highest possible rating is five stars; the lowest is one star.
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