This is a safe place to share your honest opinions of a school, whether good or bad.
Roland Park Elementary/Middle School3
Posted March 17, 2015
- a parent
When we first entered Roland Park Elementary School in 2003, it was a moderate-sized academically challenging neighborhood school. Our kids were happy and we felt blessed to have found one of the only decent schools in Baltimore City. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said 10 years later. In fact, we pulled our last child from Roland Park after 5th grade and transfered to private school. Through a combination of over-crowding, decline in academic rigor, poor school management on the part of Baltimore City Public Schools, terrible curriculum changes, and declining facilities, this school has had a fundamental negative shift during our 10 years of attendance. Teacher morale is low (I'm a former employee as well) and student behavior is intolerable (by my standards, which admittedly are high). Many great teachers continue to struggle on and do the best they can - my hats are off to them, as they are the one bright spot in this once great school.
We moved to Baltimore February, 2014 and have had such a poor experience at Roland Park that our child now attends a private school in Baltimore City. We moved from New England and have always attended public school as a matter of fast I sat on the School Board in our town suffice to say we believed in public education. We moved to the neighborhood for the school and understood there will be an adjustment period for our son but he lost interest in going to school, felt no teacher connection, found it difficult to make friends, and never ate lunch. We expressed our concerns to teachers and vice principal and our emails were never returned. The delay in getting us into the parent portal and their online classroom parent communication system caused us to miss school events, extra curricular activities and even a day that our child was dismissed half day and no one from the front office called me (stay at home Mom) to tell me my child was sitting on the steps for hours in the afternoon. No accommodation for transferring midyear. No buddy family and no classroom buddy. Goodbye Roland Park, I am sorry we wasted my son's second half of third grade was a shame to say the least.
I attended Roland Park School K-8 50+ years ago and received a wonderful education. I've gone on to earn two graduate degrees (MSW and JD) based on this firm foundation. Lots of good memories. Thanks to all the teachers, now passed on, who educated me so well - I still remember their names. - Don Hope
Roland park is a pretty good school. The class sizes are to big, but parent volunteering helps to ease the over whelming task of teaching 30 kids with no help. There should be an assitant to help teachers everyday not only when a parent shows up.
Roland Park is fortunate to serve a population of students that performs well academically and has strong parental support. It's hard to go wrong with kids that value education. That said, I don't find the instructional practices or overall faculty/staff performance to be as impressive as the children themselves. In other words, I think the school capitalizes on its kids. Teachers are not particularly friendly (there are of course exceptions), they do not make any effort beyond what is required of them to include parents, they do not demonstrate particularly forward-thinking instructional practices (my child is drowned with dittos, for instance, and frequently describes boring lectures), and they (at least in my limited experience with 7th and 8th grade teachers) fail to see the connection between their practices and student achievement. The answer to my complaints will undoubtedly be, "But look at their scores!" My point is the scores are not a direct reflection of teacher competence. These children would be successful anywhere and this school fails to take them to the heights they could reach with excellent guidance. The 4-star rating reflects the kids, not the adults.
My son transferred here from Landsdowne Elementary school last December mid-1st grade. I used to think Lansdowne was a great school but my son started RPEMS miles behind the other kids in his class academically. It took extra time and patience from his teacher to help him get caught up. His teachers have been wonderful and his class is definitely a mix of kids who learn easily and other children who struggle a bit; like all public schools. I dont know how the classes are divided (there are 4 classes in his grade) but I do not believe they just pile the smartest kids into one class like a reviewer commented. And no parent contact? I get at least 5 emails a week from the school discussing upcoming events and anytime I have a question I email his teacher and she responds within the hour. Last year his teacher was the same way. My son also has ADHD. His teacher tried very hard to work with us because she really wanted to try everything before we tried medication. I dont think she even agreed with medicating him (at first). She tried so hard, working with us on a plan and going above and beyond what you could ask from any 2nd grade teacher with a whole class to manage. We love RPEMS!
The educational excellence at Roland Park has declined significantly in the past ten years. The administration is ill equipped to teach the modern day student. Although there have been changes to administrators and curriculum over these years, the attention to statistical results has increased. Unfortunately the wholeness of the student's experience is diminished. My son is a highly functioning student with ADHD. The teachers have little experience in dealing with special needs and exceptional children are often the casualities of this lack of training. I have had other children come through the school and I am so disappointed in what is offered today. The school is holding on to the legacy of its former years and the expectations of the community in which it resides. However, I think the community at large is disappointed with the mediocrity that is now the "common core" standard for education at Roland Park.
RPEMS has gone down in recent years. Their clubs are more limited now, elitist, and poorly supervised. There is also no parent contact, which is okay if your kid is doing well, but can be very bad if your kid struggles. Teachers just keep giving work, get very irritated with low performers, and offer little support and encouragement. Instruction is test-driven, and students are just data. Classes are overcrowded and students have to compete for attention, which just means quieter students fall by the wayside or are ignored. All of this comes down to ineffective administrators. My formerly high-performing son has recently been diagnosed with ADHD, and now has low academic self-esteem and an overwhelming feeling that his teachers just don't like him. The school environment has made him miserable and frightened by punitive teachers and bullying students. I will transfer him back to his old school...where his teachers put forth an effort and cared whether he succeeded or failed, not just if they were getting their paycheck and rest on the school's former reputation. I want my son to get a good education, but not at the cost of his happiness, self-confidence, and self-esteem.
Roland Park is a good school if your child is ready to beat out other children for the best teachers. I am not sure why so many parents would put their child here when itis clear the higher level classes beginning in first grade are all rigidly tracked with best teachers. Fortunately I am the parent of a high achiever but I do not know why more parents do not speak out. Perhaps the "vocal" members of the Roland Park community like it that way but it is a form of strict educational segregation. Alternatively, I would rather pay money to attend one of the more responsive independent schools where at least ALL children have a better chance at being taught rigorous curriculum at a high level.
RPEMS is a terrific city school, offering parents a public option to all the private choices in the city. With a new pricipal, there is renewed interest in becoming a Blue Ribbon school again, and a welcomeness to parent involvement. The parent community is outstanding - very engaged in making RPEMS outstanding not only for current students, but for students of future generations. Teachers are experienced but for the most part energetic and engaged as well. There just aren't enough teachers to effectively shrink the size of the classes. The class sizes are one of a few reasons I didn't give RPEMS 5 stars. While I think most of the leadership is strong, there is at least one vice principal who is terrible. I also think there isn't enough emphasis on science, or enough PE. But I think those failures are a function of the school system rather than the school.