Stay Away! While the classrooms look lovely, children are not learning. Children in 3rd grade cannot do basic math or read! Children can barely pass the OAKS test (which is *not* hard). Children learn bullying here. You have to pay a 300 dollar materials fee!!! Stay away!
My children attended Opal School for their elementary school years. I cannot say enough wonderful things about their school experience. My children were supported and nurtured by all of their teachers throughout their school experience. The teachers, staff and parents are a dedicated community of people who care deeply about educating our children. My children benefited tremendously. I can confidently say that my children know how to think, ask questions, inquire, be creative and have a strong sense of who they are and the gifts that they bring to their community. It truly is a place that is preparing children for the 21st century! I learned so much as well, and only wish that Opal School went all the way through high school!
Opal school has continued to amaze me. My child is attending for his second year. The children are treated with the upmost of respect, the curriculum is intentionally designed to inspire and challenge children, the environment is very beautiful and the educators continue bringing leading ideas in education to the classroom. It is very rare to find a school that is so committed to excellence in so many ways.
Enticed by the Reggio Amelia philosophy and CM2 location we left a "mediocre" public school to attend Opal. After a short time, we were substantially and consistently disappointed with the overall school culture created by inexperienced teachers, troubled leadership, a lack of social boundaries allowed with the children, plus a very poor practical interpretation of the Reggio philosophy. My child received report cards that revealed the teacher knew nothing about him. And worse, high marks were given where no testing or even lessons were given which I can only guess was to meet PPS test scores to remain funded by supposedly meeting benchmarks. Many of the kids there since preschool were illiterate in second grade. Classroom management was so unskilled that at times it resembled a sort of Opal "Lord of the Flies". Returning to public elementary was a relief. Run, Run, Run from Opal.
My experience at Opal has been very well described by those giving three or less stars. This is a very, very poor school so do your homework before signing on. Something is rotting there and it takes a while to get past the pretty classrooms and stellar location to find it.
I have faith in the Opal school's philosophy, and was impressed by my son's teachers there. We spent a year at Opal in their preschool program, and while I would encourage those parents entering the charter lottery, I discourage those considering the preschool. My son has taken huge leaps this year, and has emerged a creative, socially adept, inquisitive kid. He was treated with respect, and spent his days with what I consider to be his other family. However, the preschool kids are not guaranteed a spot in the charter school, so if you take this route your child is likely to be devastated. They are old enough to understand that there is a 'big kid school' within the building, but won't understand the bureaucracy. If you can, find your child a community in which he will be guaranteed a permanent place, or where all the kids are moving on.
I have to give Opal School a mixed review, for the three years our family was there. Although I gave the staff credit for their passion and vision of children, it was very difficult to translate their ideals into a real life approach that works for all or even most children. Because there was no set curriculum, the teachers worked extremely hard just to figure out what to do each day, leaving them with little energy to help individual kids.The subject matter was at times child directed as advertised, but by the same few highly verbal children.There was virtually no direct instruction, even for children clearly lagging in skills, nor recognition of mild learning differences. Behavioral boundaries were inconsistent. Parents who expressed concern were labelled as disloyal. When we left, my child's literacy skills lagged by 2 grade levels, and we had to repeat a grade. She is doing very well now, but it was hard.
I have been an Opal parent for 5 years. I could not possibly be happier with our experience. At Opal, my children are learning to use the arts and sciences as 'languages' to express and explore their ideas and theories about the world. They are becoming competent and creative thinkers and problem solvers who really understand their academic work and are very engaged with it. The teachers are truly researchers and scholars who care deeply about the experience of each individual. Creating a safe and strong classroom community is fundamental to their approach. Children are expected to make mistakes as they grow, and are not banished when they do so, but supported and gently guided to making choices that are helpful to their school community. I love the frequent trips to the zoo and hiking in the beautiful arboretum-- rain or shine, or trips on the MAX train to explore Portland!
We thought we had won the lottery when we got a place here for our child! It turned out to be a real nightmare. No behavior policy is present, therefore bullying is endemic. My child and many others were abused by peers on a daily basis. The school were hopelessly in denial. They talked about community but in reality it was a PR talking point, because the lessons are designed to benefit only the kids with the strongest and loudest personalities. And coincidence or not, several of those kids were from families of annual school donors of $10,000 upwards. If you keep your mouth shut, and have a lot of money to offer them, your child might survive here. But private school is probably a much better option if you have the money. Academically, the school is deeply challenged. For details, have a look at the Oregon school report card.
The Opal school is the best! My family moved to Portland, Oregon just for the opportunity for our dughter to attend this amazing school.
My 3rd grader has attended Opal since kindergarten, and thrives in this supportive and respectful community. High-quality teachers work with students individually in small classes, and help each child get in touch with their strengths and reach their highest potential. The arts are integrated in all learning, and the school makes a point of not becoming consumed with 'teaching to the test' to meet benchmarks. Despite this unconventional approach (or because of it...), my son and other Opal students are developing powerful critical thinking skills, distinct literary voices and a deep competency and understanding of mathematics. It's not for everyone...inadequate charter funding means no fancy playgrounds and almost no extracurricular activities. 'Back to basics' folks would be quite uncomfortable with Opal's approach. Parent involvement is welcomed, and is vital to the school's operation. We help in the classroom, the office, administer the lunch program, raise funds, and more!
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The Community Rating is the school’s average rating from its community members (e.g., parents, students, and school staff). The highest possible rating is five stars; the lowest is one star.
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