We had kids at ISM for 13 years. Best school in the Twin Cities. We love the academics - for practically half the price of other, well known private schools, our kids received a better education than these more expensive schools provide. And unlike the more expensive schools, which just pick the kids who have the highest IQ and then, not surprisingly, move them on to college, ISM is less selective, and makes it its charter to bring out the best in every child - the proof: virtually every graduate goes on to college, too. The school is small enough that there is a lot of attention paid to the students, the student body is diverse and the opportunities for participation are amazing, whether in performing arts, robotics, sports. What stuns us is that ISM is not very good at tooting its own horn - many people (for example) have no idea what a robust athletic program the school has. The High School soccer teams compete at the top of their conference every year, the basketball teams have won their conference on many occasions, or been in a top spot at least, there is a great track team, baseball is starting this year. Plays and musicals are unbelievable. We did get what we paid for ++!
I've been researching schools, and just stumbled across this gem. The facility itself is just beautiful, and the sense of community is powerful. On my tour, I saw the SABIS teaching model in action, and I just love the way kids break into groups to discuss concepts and confirm each other's comprehension -- so empowering. It's much cheaper than some of the other privates around here and has less of a "rarified" feeling. We're submitting our application.
ISM has served us well for 9yrs. Here is what we love. 40% of families have a parent or child born in another country. However, it is NOT a school only for those families with international connections. It is a school for everybody! World language is taught daily by native speakers yet it is not an immersion school. The language department offers classes for the beginner, regardless of the grade your child enters. The music, art, and PE departments are exceptional. Every child has an opportunity to sing or speak at their concerts. The art department teaches the kids to work in a variety of mediums, the displays the art all over the school. The PE department uses the entire 55 acres of our natural and beautiful campus for sledding, X-country skiing, snow shoeing, geocaching, hiking, fishing, tracking, and trail-running. These specialists see students weekly, and sometimes more, starting in preschool. Extended Day is INCLUDED with full-time tuition. No prior arrangements need to be made. If you are late getting out of work, no problem. Your child is safely playing with friends until you arrive. We love ISM!
My son attended ISM for one year of preschool. Our teacher was wonderful and we had a good year. I have to give ISM an average rating for several reasons. The curriculum is one size fits all. They have the educational belief that no child should be allowed to accelarate beyond his peers. So, if you child is exemplary in one area, they will be bored. The children begin rigorous testing in kindergarten. For some kids, this caused much anxiety. Yes, 50% of graduates are Merit but graduating classes are of only 12 kids. The concept of this school being diverse is true culturally but not socio-economically. Most families are from other countries and are very wealthy. One reason for this is that there is very little scholarship money given to lower income families. And what is given does not start until 6th grade. By then, most chiildren have settled in to a school. Your money wil be much better spent elsewhere.
Our daughter is currently attending ISM. We considered other options (Breck and Blake) but found that ISM was the right fit for us. In talking with friends that have kids at those schools, ISM offers more. She is gifted but they do offer much to keep her busy and challenged. And as far as cost goes, there are additional costs not covered by tuition. It is still much less than other alternatives and a much better value. One final note, their lunch program may be a bit more but it is actually really good food. And in keeping with their international nature, reflective of foods from elsewhere in the world. The only thing I can't give 5 stars to is the Principle but that is only because I have yet to meet her.
Not a great experience at all. The math program uses very green teachers, and my son's scores declined after he was there for two years. The head of the school is very rigid. The text books are dated. The learning is rote. The kids are placed under intense pressure. They have very little time between classes to get from place to place which intensifies the pressure. There is shame based approach to discipline. Very strong emphasis on materialism. The add on costs are substantial. Lunch is expensive, the bus is expensive. All the extra curriculars are expensive. Not a great value and it was an unfortunate experience.
I started at ISM 5 years ago, and I have loved every part of it. The class sizes are small (my French class last year had only 6 people), so the teachers can provide help to all of the students, not just the ones that are having serious problems. I know just about every teacher in the school, and it's so nice to walk down the hall and know everyone - including all the students! The Student Life Organization can't be beat! It gives all the students the chance to get involved in the student community in any way they want. The academics are wonderful, and there are so many options for students who want to do AP classes. The teachers are amazing and work so hard to help students succeed. Peer tutoring is great; I have tutored countless lower schoolers and have loved having the ability to get to know them. It's such a connected school. The all-school musicals (and the whole music department!) are top quality. Coming from a public school system, I love that anyone can get involved because of the small size. We have a good sports department with about 7 different sports. We just built an awesome new track and soccer field. Come take a tour at our school, I'm sure you'll be impressed!
My children attended ISM for Pre-K - 5th for my daughter and PS - K for my son. They are now in 6th and 10th grades. I still think ISM was the best school they have attended - we moved back to our home city - we left ISM,because we moved back to Missouri. ISM pushes the students to excel academically & I believe this environment set the standard for both of my children (especially the older one) in the schools they have attended since. At the time, I thought the price was a bit high for what I was getting, but know now the price was right! I have paid the same since fo since, but have gotten a lot less.
After reading the very mixed reviews from parents and students, I have to agree with the good and the bad. My kid graduated after 12 years there, and he thrived. The principal, Mrs. Berg, was always available, and helpful. When my kid was having problems, they called me first, with a corrective plan of action they had already put in place. This was wonderful. The value has decreased with the increases in tuition, having more than doubled since we started, and they are now charging a lot for all the extras, effectively increasing the cost another 10-15%. I can't but help believe this has caused a drop in students. Teacher quality is great, though there are a few that belong somewhere else, and the sports are less than mediocre. Their theater, art and music programs are second to none - I have seen several professional quality plays that were well worth the price of admission even if my kid hadn't gone to the school. It is a school of high achievers - the kids are frequently overbooked, but the staff recognizes this and are willing to accomodate them with a flexible schedule. That is, unless there is a grade problem, then after school makeup and tutor labs are mandatory.
This is our second year at ISM and it will be our last. The students are wonderful and there is cultural diversity. Most of the teachers are adequate. Having said that, they have a "one size fits all" education plan. If you're ahead of the class just expect your child to be bored as they offer little stimulation. The principal/director is hardly seen, unless there's a photo op! Not happy with this school; wouldn't waste my money again
ISM is not for everyone. This is not a touchy-feely, new age fad school. It is academically rigorous and focuses on a core of subjects in the following order of importance: Mathematics, Science, English, Foreign Languages & Social Studies. On top of this core, there is a wide range of activities for the students. In fact ISM is a high-participation school. It is not rare for students to start in the soccer team, be a soloist in choir, and sit in first cellos in orchestra. Department heads understand this and accomodate the students' busy schedules. There is an accelerated mathematics program beginning 3rd term of 5th grade that allows talented students to skip 6th grade math. By their senior year, most of these students are taking post-AP math like multivariate calculus and number theory. Physics is a three year sequence. Likewise Biology. When your senior graduates he/she knows stuff. Guaranteed.
We'd give 3 stars for overall quality, but only 2 since it's poor value (high tuition for less quality than public school-- expect lots of added cost for every activity, books, uniform--only the basics included in tuition). While there are a few fabulous teachers (we hope they go elsewhere where their own styles can be appreciated) the very rigid, hierarchical approach, prefect system, constant achievement testing & 'no child left behind' tone reflect its European roots. Most European school systems have moved into the 21st century but ISM is stuck in mid-20th century traditions. Leadership is convinced its way is the best & only way. Children's individuality is not celebrated or nutured. AP results are impressive--a result of focusing learning on test-taking & test content rather than developing creative learners. Surprisingly non-diverse. Nouveau-rich suburbians will fit in best. Poor communication with families. Our kids are lots happier now at public school.
I agree with the 'no child left behind' analogy. Until middle school, there is no differentiation, and the more gifted kids pay a price at the expense of the mainstream...they end up teaching them. I think public schools have better programs for differentiated learning and a better understanding of how to manage aptitude and potential vs. purely achievement.
I am extremely impressed by ISM. Academics are superb and the attention students get is unbeatable. I learned so much in my years at ISM, and every skill I learned there has stayed with me all my life. I moved away after spending some years at the school, and I found that the academic program at ISM pushes you, but doesn't make you resent it. What I'd learned was more advanced, and when I began at the new school, I was completely prepared, and rather bored with the lack of a challenge. Arts are absolutely wonderful and so are sports, but this school isn't known as much for their sports.
As a parent at ISM, I would say the education has gone downward since our start there. Classes have gone from 17 to 25, yet the price continues to increase while the resources dwindle. As a for-profit school, they don't treat you much like a customer, and have the mentality, it's 'your way or the highway' -- some of the tacts they take are not progressive at all. For the money, I'd find yourself a good public school that has a good language program and save yourself the hassles we're encountering...
this is a very good school we have awesome education and fun extracurricular activities like track soccer basketball cross country swimming volleyball and the play duhhhh something that would make our school even better is if you send your kids there!!! we are dropping like flies
The International School of Minnesota (ISM) is best known for its rigorous curriculum and AP statistics (50% of its graduating seniors are AP Scholars), but ISM should also be known for its wonderful art, music, and drama offerings and its dedicated teachers, staff, and administration. I have had two students graduate from ISM-- one was gifted and the other had a slight learning disability. The school provided opportunities to enhance and develop each of my children's capabilities to their fullest. Both of my children were accepted by the college of their choosing, and ISM provided insight into the college selection process. At ISM every student has the flexibility to join as many extra-curricular activities as they want; and, every student participates, whether they're a star athlete or just out to have fun. I would highly recommend ISM to any parent who is looking for a top level college-prep school.
We have had children attending International School of MN for 15 years, one has graduated, the second is in middle school. The school offers all students the opportunity to get involved in all aspects of the school including, arts, sports,various clubs, and student life. The academics are superior. The children are taught from day one to respect their piers, staff and administration. Each teacher knows your child and takes an interest in their success. High school students are encouraged to take AP classes, my older child received many credits in college for the APcourses offered at ISM. She was much better prepared for college than her friends and roommates, ISM is truly a college pre school.
I have 2 daughters that attend ISM. They love it there. The music and the art programs are amazing. I have never seen so many young people in one place that are so very talented in either art or music. The school has d decent extended day program. Your child can take music lessons through the school, which is really nice. Most of the children there are respectful and kind to each other, it really is like an extended family for the kids.
My child was at ISM for 3 years . Every year I had struggled with idea of moving to a diffrent school. I felt that ISM had more to offer (or I was lead to believe.) for gifted children and will be Challenged enough. However since the begining, it had been a struggle to keep my child interested in school. I feel they really live upto ' NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND' Moto at cost of Children who are advanced. No accomodations were made, nothing done to keep them intersted or challenged. It was to the point where my child was feeling bored. Talking to school and teachers was USELESS. They kept passing the buck, saying it will change in higher grades, but Eventually I was told no accelrated/ advanced levels were available till Middle School and that is not an option. (so basically Shut up). My child is no longer there.
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