I read some of the less favorable reviews. Of course one can complain about the administration or that some parents' concerns were not properly met. Don't forget, this is not only by name a GERMAN school. It is a German school with German teachers and a German curriculum in accordance with the Ministry of Education and Cultural Affairs of the German State of Thuringia. So expect differences to the American schools in the neighborhood. And since many of their students continue on to European universities, SAT and ACT don't play a major role there.
But what comes out at the end is what counts:
At the end of 12th grade the students have to pass
the German 'Abitur', the general qualification for entering a university and if they have chosen US History as a subject in 11th grade they are also awarded the high school diploma. Passing the Abitur means passing written exams in German, one social sciences subject and one natural sciences subject and an oral exam in any one of them. These three written exams are held during a period of two weeks and each of them is three or four hours long. The students then have to apply the knowledge they have acquired the previous two school years. It is very demanding and the entire school seems to hold their breath when the exams are on. The ones in German and English are held at a native speaker level.
Later on in college I found both my kids who had average grades in their Abitur exams to be very well prepared. They both went on to the University of Maryland; one majoring in Math the other in Bio-Chemistry. They both are in the top 20% of their classes and I know the German School played a major role in getting them there.
This is the parents' responsibility. The school can only further the development of honesty, integrity and fairness in its students. The parents have to lay the groundwork for these character traits, the school cannot repair where parents failed to give the proper example.
However, the students I met through our children gave me not only in this respect a lot of hope for our future.
It depends on the grade the student is in, 10th grade seems to be the toughest with the most homework. In 11th and 12th grades it becomes less and the student is required to decide on his/her own on how much studying is necessary in preparation for the final exams.
We have two children at this school (Kindergarten and 1st grade) and have been very happy with the school. The school emphasizes independence, self-reliance and aims at educating children holistically, with a focus on languages, science, and what would be considered "extras" elsewhere (arts, music etc). The environment, particularly at the lower school, is very international. Both parents and staff are generally laid back and friendly. The kids spend a lot of time outdoors, the cafeteria staff prepares fresh, hot meals on site, and every time I am on the campus, it strikes me how happy and relaxed the kids seem. If you are looking for a pressure-cooker school environment, you will not be happy at this school. If your parenting style is to be very involved in your child's school life, you may not be happy either. My experience has been that the teachers are very focused on the children, but less so on involving the parents. This is part of the approach of teaching the children to be responsible, self reliant and independent. We have had a great experience at the German School so far and hope to remain a part of this wonderful community for many years to come.
I graduated from the German School (DSW) in 2003 and am now sending my children there. I cannot recommend the school highly enough. If you are deciding between the DSW and other private/public schools in the area, here are some points to consider:
/// Different Teaching Style ///
- Less homework, because there is less emphasis on repetition. I spent about half as much time on homework as my friends at Whitman HS. For example, I would have to solve only two math problems of a particular type, while they had to solve five.
- Greater class participation, as this can count towards up to half of students’ grades. The continued emphasis on class participation from an early age means that students are more confident.
- Students study multiple sciences and languages throughout high school. As opposed to the US system, the class schedule is different for each day of the week. By meeting less frequently during the week, students can take multiple sciences, multiple languages, social studies, art, music, and PE, simultaneously. The school week is more varied, the tendency to burn out is much lower, and homework for one subject is not necessarily due the next day.
/// Competitive Advantage for Higher Education ///
- From my graduating class, students went on to Yale, Princeton, Stanford, UVA, NYU, Carnegie Mellon, and universities in Germany.
- Students can participate in multiple sports and clubs. This means students can fill their college application with the following: varsity soccer, varsity basketball, theater, choir, model UN, school newsletter, yearbook, etc.
- The bicultural and bilingual environment means that students have a uniqueness factor on their college application that they can’t get at other schools.
- The DSW opens up the opportunity for studying at a university in Germany at a fraction of the cost of US colleges.
- There is less competition between students in the battle to get into a good US college, which can be cutthroat at other schools. This reduces stress and makes for a more collegial atmosphere in the last two years of high school.
/// My experience at the DSW was very rewarding academically and socially. I felt very prepared for my studies at an Ivy League college. The DSW community is tight-knit, inclusive and welcoming of newcomers. I am very happy with the education my children are receiving in the DSW kindergarten.
The teachers that come from Germany are highly motivated and very effective. They stay only for a couple years. Some of the local teachers are less effective, since they stay for a much longer period of time. Overall, I was very satisfied with my teachers.
Another wave of reviews coming in these days because the school sent an email to every parent begging for a review of the school at popular ranking sites. We are wrapping up our 3rd year at the school now and it has been a very mixed experience. The administration branch of the school is pretty terrible. Hopefully the new business manager and the new principal will improve things, but I wouldn't bet my money on it. A change culture is non-existent and if you are from Germany or are dealing with Governments, you will feel right at home. The sad part is that tuition is high while being located in one of the best school clusters of the US. Keep in mind though that a lot of parents get their tuition reimbursed in some sort of way, hence they don't care and won't complain. The customer service you would expect from paying a premium is lacking and lots of a time you feel like a burden with requests.
The teachers can be hit or miss. We have seen very dedicated and knowledgeable teachers, but also had encountered the lazy, minimalist type.
You will get exposure to German culture as most holidays and traditional festivals are being celebrated.
I would only reluctantly recommend this school to anyone asking me.
I have two children at the school, and have been a member of the DSW community for over ten years now. LIke most places, there are good and bad. Bad is the administration now, and the way money is misspent and squandered. Tuition is high, and promises made years ago are not kept as funding is channeled to other things.
As for your children becoming fully bilingual--if you don't speak German at home (as a native speaker), your child will not be a fluent bilingual speaker. Don't delude yourself. You should come to the school speaking German, it's not an immersion program. Those children that are learning it while at school never catch up and pull the level of the entire class down. This is particularly a problem in the higher grades, where they ought to require an entrance exam to test fluency and proficiency, but don't, since they appear to be more interested in your tuition money than in standards.
Many of the teachers (mostly those brought from Germany) are very good and dedicated. No idea what the hiring process is for local teachers, but some of them are not good. (For instance, one of the upper grade English teachers speaks with a strong accent and poor grammar).
The community of the school is small, and inclusive. Independence of thought and action are valued, support is provided, but children are not coddled.
Overall, like with most places, you'll get out of it what you put into it.
Regarding all the posts from early January: they did recently hire a social outreach coordinator, so it is interesting to see all the extremely positive reviews pop up at the same time.