I feel grateful and lucky that my kids attend Menlo Park Academy. My kids began at MPA in Kindergarten, (now 4th and 2nd Grade). I have found they are academically challenged and engaged, but not overwhelmed. They have found peers and made friends that understand them and share their sometimes quirky and/or nerdy personalities. Their teachers have provided creative and interesting learning opportunities, not just drilling for a test. Most importantly, my kids enjoy school and enjoy learning at MPA. Not having an alternative experience to compare it too, I always ask new parents about how MPA compares to any previous school experiences, and almost 100% of the time, they say MPA is a godsend for their kids, academically and socially.
I have found the quality of the teachers for both my kids (4th and 2nd) to be excellent, for the most part. There is a fair amount of turnover in the teaching staff, though that is not unusual in a Charter School which cannot pay as well as public or private schools.
The homework seems appropriate. Kids in K and 1st have nightly reading (15 to 20 minutes), and occasionally other subjects if they don't finish them in class. They have reports and presentations at an earlier age, perhaps, than at other schools, but they do it in an engaging way and give plenty of time to complete. I do not find them loaded down with busy work, by any means.
I am updating my review of a couple years ago, when I had rated it highly. The school has changed, and not for the better. It is a terrible place for kids who are not perfect gifted kids. If your child has a learning disability or any kind of learning difference, run don't walk away from Menlo Park Academy. They now have very poor IEP/ special needs supports, and the place is chaotic. There have been 4 school directors in the past 5 years and teacher churn is awful. Last summer there was a mass exodus, including all my child's teachers who quit the month before school started. Parents should know the teachers are paid badly, there are too many kids in the classes (gifted like other special ed should have small class sizes and they INCREASED class size Summer 2015), the building is dreary and over-crowded, and the current director is weak. The place is a disorganized mess.
The school is really too inconsistent to make a judgment on this; I am not wowed by any special character skills that are being championed consistently throughout the school. Seems it just depends on whether you are lucky enough to get a decent teacher.
I have been a student at Menlo my entire life and anyone who thinks that the rich kids get more, are completely wrong. Menlo submits to everyone's needs and brings out every unique part of every person.