I have had my children at this school for some time now and have observed the succession of management styles over the years. The current management seems to be disfunctional and their decisions for class scheduling, field trips and other important aspects of student life have left me and other parents wondering what they are thinking.
I am not sure their decisions are based on good common sense or best interest for students but rather on favoritism and cheap, short-sighted vision.
The result is that half of the teachers and many students have decided to leave this year. This is a shame because overall the school has many assets to offer: incredible diversity, high academic standards, good parent involvement.
Lyc e Rochambeau offers an educational experience that is unlike any other in the Washington, DC area. The student body, administration and teachers are truly multicultural and diverse. My American children have students of all nationalities, religions, socio-economic levels in their classes and gain from the worldly perspective that the student body and academic program provide. The academics are extremely rigorous and the k-12 experience is well thought out from a content perspective. In addition, the school does not do enough to highlight the extraordinary value that is provided by its multi-tier French and English program. Each year has multiple English and French sections providing personalized tracks where each child is grouped with students of similar capabilities and taught the material they need to progress. Is the school (or any school for that matter) perfect? No. The administration needs to put greater emphasis on teacher accountability and the customer service US parents and students expect and deserve. They are doing a better job of communicating about their exemplary college admissions results and some other areas, but they have a long way to go.
Excellent school with rigourous and demanding curriculum, great teachers and the only truly international environment in the metro DC area. My kids joined in Elementary for one and high school for the other. The elder was failing in a public high school and the level of attention and rigourous approach of the school helped him to graduate with high grades. My younger daughter would not go anywhere else. Her friends are from all around the world and by the age of 10 she was fluent in Spanish, English and French. She has now started Latin and is likely to take on Arabic after that. My older son was given the truly unique opportunity to go to college pretty much anywhere around the world. He chose to go to Europe, but some of his friends went to Stanford, Harvard and Cambrige. One is in Singapore and several went to top Canadian and american universities.
I would highly advise against sending your kid to this school unless for some reason you desperately need to. The school is a total mess. There are some very good teachers but plenty of bad ones who stay for years and for whom nothing is ever done. The directors and many of the teachers and administration come from the French public school system where they really should have stayed because they understand nothing about what it means to teach in a private school where standards are high and parents expect an above average level of teaching skills and service. Please spare yourself the time and go visit the excellent public schools in the greater DC area or a private school that really knows what it is doing.
I don't believe that it is the rigorous curriculum that makes parents turn away from the school. But the inflexibility of many of the teaching staff and their inability to think outside of the box. Although this is a school based on the public education in France, it is still a school with PRIVATE school tuition. This lack of sensitivity to parental issues does not happen in virtually every school. Any other private school in the DC area and you would surely be better heard. Definitely without the arrogance of some of the teachers and administrators in the school. Since it is a French school, parental involvement is limited and not completely welcomed. More so, if you are unfortunate to be unable to speak French. Many non-French speaking families leave because they feel that they are only being heard on a superficial level and that they have to put up with it or get out. Families who can afford a better international school like our family, move on to the Washington International School. The parent who gave the LR five stars should measure it to another international school such as WIS, rather than generalize the American school system.
From the reviews I've read, a few things are clear coming from the dissatisfied parents: either your kid doesn't have what it takes to excel in this rigorous milieu that surely doesn't hand out medals to every kid, or you have a problem with management because they repeatedly ignore your pleas. The former is frequent and a lot of kids end up in american school not because the curriculum is lacking (on the contrary, it is top notch - just compare it to any american school) but because their kid could not keep up. The latter is unfortunately encountered in virtually every establishment - good luck getting your voice heard in an american school with 2932093 students and parents in it. This is just my two cents but I am continually impressed with the quality of the students and teachers that this school consistently churns out. My daughter went to McGill, and is now accepted to medical school. My son got an offer from Georgetown coming from 1ere. Although they've begged me to be transferred to American school when the going got rough, today they frequently mention how this french system helped them blossom into the people they are today: smart, driven, competitive and highly educated.
Before you select this school, request that they send you the annual report that is sent to all parents, which summarizes the school's performance over the past year. It contains the # of graduating students who were accepted by various universities, the percent of students passing the Bac (100%), and the number who took the SAT (very low - only a handful of students) as well as their average score (disappointing - not high enough to get in to University of MD). I have 2 sons who attended the Lycee Rochambeau from 1st grade until graduation. Both earned grades that either met the class average or exceeded it every year, and both did very well on the Bac. But their low scores on the SAT limited their college options to universities in the French school system. Their scores may be due to a language barrier (hard to quickly interpret complex English sentences when you read only French text books and literature), a lack of adequate teaching of math skills and analytical reasoning, or an overly lax and forgiving grading environment. English is the universal language of science and business, and US universities are excellent - and they are now out of reach for my sons.
I'm French and my son is now at the local elementary school. We are in the BEST school district in the country and why would anyone put up with their "holier than thou" attitude for 20k/yr is absolutely beyond my comprehension... and I'm French! This school should be called "World Bank/IMF school" because that's their bus. model. Cater to people who are only staying a couple of years will go back to a Francophone country and need a continuum in the curriculum (notice I didn't say France). If that's you, knock yourself out. Teacher turnout is high as is admins, this is the worst. My son was utterly miserable there and got tortured, bullied daily with no one caring whatsoever. Horrible place especially for any kid needing an IEP/504!!!! These kids get put down by teachers and admins and peers on a daily basis among general indifference because "it's their own fault". The difference once I left was life-changing!
One thing that's clear from reading these reviews, you either really love this school or really hate it. I really love it. I am American and my 3 kids have attended the school for 5 years. I have never seen or heard of anything resembling the negative experiences below.