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Public charter
Portland, OR

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0680 SW Bancroft St.
Portland, OR 97239

School website
(503) 244-1697
(503) 244-1709
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Map of Southwest Charter School address.
April 04, 2015
Special needs kids abound here but they don't have the resources or funding to keep up with them. The Teaching is good and the curriculum is engaging but teacher turnover rate is high. Bullying is not dealt with properly leaving it to continue even after several reports. I know of two other families who left the school due to this. The schools outings are fun and educational but the playground is just a small fenced in concrete area with no room to run leaving kids with pent up energy.

- submitted by a parent
September 26, 2014
We really wanted our neighborhood school to work, but our kids were getting lost in the large class sizes and masses of worksheets. Once we switched to SWCS, they thrived. The classrooms are fun, engaging, and the community is very strong. Yes, it is charter which brings financial challenges that require fundraising (but isn't that the state of all schools?) but here we can definitely feel like our kids needs are being put first.

- submitted by a parent
June 22, 2014
Everything I'd like to say has already been said by the other 1 and 2 star reviews. In short, SWCS did not provide the alternative education we expected and wanted for our child. Philosophies boasted on the schools website fall short. Once you are in the focus is on raising money for the school. That and everything already stated in the other low reviews.

- submitted by a parent
November 06, 2013
My child is very happy at SWCS. She is excelling academically and much more engaged and challenged than at her previous school. While this school may not be a great fit for all children, an independent learner who benefits from full integration of creative and intellectual endeavors will do well here.

- submitted by a parent
September 04, 2013
My daughter came to this school in 6th grade and stayed till 8th. During her time here she broke out of her shell, made many friends and bonded with teachers. She is now going into highschool full of confidence. Academically she is right where she needs to be thanks to the awesome teachers at SWCS! My son also attends this school and has come a long way socially fitting in and making friends. He is high functioning Aspergers/autistic and SWCS has helped him learn the social skills he needs. Academically he is excelling according to all the state testing, so thank you SWCS! You have done a wonderful job with my kids! They both love this school!

- submitted by a parent
April 01, 2013
After a few years at Southwest Charter, my kids were not where they needed to be academically to fit back in to the mainstream school system. They had fun at farms, rivers, plays and museums during their time at SWCS, but are missing chunks of learning that have left them struggling now. We are spending a lot of time and money getting them caught up to where they need to be in all subject areas.

- submitted by a parent
September 08, 2012
My son has autism. We had two wonderful years with this school. School placement is always difficult with special need children especially when resources are limited. We love this school because teacher and staff have the right level of flexibility, open-mindedness, positive attitute, sense of humor, and willingness to try new things. We met the most wonderful teacher and children in this school and we learned a lot from them. Education is a shared-responsibility between school and parents. We feel grateful that this school gave us an opportunity to successfully intergrate my son into the neuro-typical world. It is actually quite creative to effectively use public facilities to save costs given that charter schools are receiving much less fundings compared to traditional public schools.

- submitted by a parent
September 07, 2012
Our child attended SW Charter School for three years. We chose SWCS as an alternative to PPS. We thought the 'Place-based Learning' approach and emphasis on natural science would be a good fit for our child who had struggled in a more traditional learning environment. Although there are a few individuals at the school dedicated to providing a supportive, engaging education following this model, we were mostly disappointed. SWCS is anti-academic (i.e. garbage collection = science!), has unaddressed bullying issues and very high teacher and student turnover (The 3 teachers we had have all left the school. The class rooster was @ 20% revolving door, with a significant drop by the end of the year). There is no library, computer lab, gym or grass play areas, and a general lack of the basics. Our experience (not unique to us) was that important educational decisions concerning a student were dictated by the administrator (with disregard for parental input) and non-negotiable. For our time there, SWCS did not deliver a quality alternative education option. Additionally, they were counter-productive in bringing child, family and school together for good educational outcomes.

- submitted by a parent
June 30, 2012
Southwest Charter School was working hard to change the education system the first two years they were open. Since then, the school has hit a downward spiral. They're prime concern is with survival and it does not leave them time to focus on the needs of the students. Over the past two years, I withdrew both my children from SWCS. If your child has special needs of any sort, that is not a priority at SWCS.

- submitted by a parent
March 07, 2011
We have been a part of SW Charter for going on 2 years now. We currently have all 3 of our kids in K, 2 and 4th grades. It does take some effort to get the kids to the school, but if your kids are important to you, I can assure you, that once in school their time is well spent. The staff and teachers, and smaller class sizes allow the education to go where the kids are and light fires in them. No DOUBTS from us, hearing our KINDER kids crying because she wants to go to school FULL DAYS never happened in the local neighborhood schools. At SWC our kids are learning, and learning more by doing. IMHO it's an effort that's well worth it. PS ---> Get in NOW while you can with the new location it will be FULL again soon. Nothing is worse than knowing where you want them to go and not being able to have it happen.

- submitted by a parent
March 06, 2011
Our experience with SWCS has been fantastic. The school focuses on community-building and encourages critical thinking. Science, history, and art are skillfully woven into the core curriculum. The cllass sizes are small so everyone gets the attention they need and deserve. Every single teacher seems dedicated to quality teaching. This school is truly a gem and we feel so fortunate to have found it.

- submitted by a parent
March 03, 2011
Southwest Charter School has been great for my quiet, shy child who we were afraid would 'get lost' in a large classroom. Class size is capped at 22. There are 16 kindergarten students this year, equally split between boys and girls. I love that the kids go outside to learn and explore rain or shine. The teachers are passionate about the school and the kids. The school is not in a traditional building and does not consistently offer traditional sports. If this does not matter to you or you consider it a plus, definitely look into it.

- submitted by a parent
February 24, 2011
The secret is out -- this is an amazing school. What a unique approach to education -- place based learning. Furthermore, SWCS has great student-teacher ratios, caring and involved parents and wonderful students. Oh -- and the teachers are incredible. A true gem -- we had no idea a public school could be this good, this, coming from a family who was in private school here in Portland.

- submitted by a parent
February 22, 2011
Really excellent place of learning. The staff is passionate, caring, and dedicated. And, the school is moving into a really impressive new space on the South Waterfront.

- submitted by a parent
February 22, 2011
Southwest Charter School (K-8) is moving next week to its new South Waterfront location: 0680 SW Bancroft. When PPS did not grant it a charter, the State did (hence you will not find it on PPS's list of Charter Schools). Interestingly enough, there are many parent educators that send their own children to this school. I feel very thankful we found the school because I consider it a jewel. The School Director, teachers and staff make it a special place. The staff know your child by name. My child came to the school already with the love to learn and be challenged and the school continues the love from all the little things the teachers incorporate into the everyday lessons. The teachers write their own curriculum, they can respond to the class and their quest for knowledge in the direction that benefits the class. Classes are 22 students maximum. No school is perfect, and this school has had its own set of challenges, but with it finally moving to its own home, it will have more time to attend to other wants and desires of the school community.

- submitted by a parent
February 21, 2011
I love SW Charter! My child was bullied at her last school on a daily basis and came home in tears. At SWCS they have a no tolerance policy for that. She is treated with respect by her teachers and, the school staff are amazing. Her class goes outside the classroom to research and examine the world through new eyes. Now that they are in their new larger building in the south waterfront there are no limits as to what they can do. Tell everyone about it!

- submitted by a parent
February 21, 2011
We have been involved with Southwest Charter school since our doors opened. We are very proud to be a part of this community. Thank you, Michelle Rundorff

- submitted by a parent
February 18, 2011
We left our very highly rated neighborhood school frustrated by the large classes and by a principal who was more interested in protecting the appearance of a well running school instead of trying to make the school great. There were some good teachers, some less so, most were average. Overall, it felt like everyone was just trying to get by. SWCS is totally different. Most important, the teachers are amazing, across the board. The classes are small, so the teacher actually knows our kid - really well. And the instruction is far more engaging. While the basics are properly covered, they also do a lot more hands on experiential learning. Our first grader taught us more about the lifecycle of a salmon than I ever thought I'd want to know. He's learning and he loves school. enough said.

- submitted by a parent
February 18, 2011
SWCS is rated "Excellent" by the Oregon Department of Education. This rating is a hard-fought victory; earned through the combined efforts of an exceptional teaching staff, extraordinary ancillary staff, and dedicated leadership. SWCS's Place-Based education philosophy is in a word 'engaging'. The teachers are engaged, and inspired to write curriculum that in turn engages the children. Rote memorization, photocopied worksheets and antiquated textbooks have been replaced by a fully integrated, validated curriculum of authentic learning experiences. The recent move of SWCS to Portland's South Waterfront neighborhood is the beginning of a new era of public school excellence.

- submitted by a parent
February 11, 2011
I didn't know what to expect when I enrolled my son in KG at SWCS. Wow, have a been pleasantly surprised. The teachers are phenomenal and love what they do! Small class sizes and great kids/parents. The curriculum is great and the kids go outside to learn 2-3 time per day. My son teaches me stuff about community/environment all the time now. I highly recommend looking into SWCS. Talk to some of the other parents there. The sense of school community is unlike any other school I have seen. And the new building in the South Waterfront will be one of the best school locations in Portland. The waiting list for some grades can be pretty long. We got in on a lottery. Tip - If you find yourself really interested in SWCS you can enroll your child in the last part of this year (if there is space) and then you are guaranteed a spot next year without having to go through a lottery.

- submitted by a parent
January 14, 2011
My son loves his school. He knows that he is safe, respected and cared for as an individual. He's thriving, well above grade level in reading and at or above grade level in math but even more important than that he loves the process of learning new things. He's inspired to push himself outside of the classroom, he even asks me to make him math quizes! I wanted my son to be a thinker, to love learning, not just to know facts and I know all that will be achieved at Southwest Charter School.

- submitted by a parent
December 17, 2010
I also cannot think of anything less accurate. I do agree that no child should feel unsafe or unchallenged at school, but I have just not seen that in the the two years my son has been enrolled. I see teachers and staff who bring a community of people together with skilled management and breadth of knowledge. What I see are lovely, creative, and passionate teachers who instill a love of learning that takes core curriculum to a meaningful and engaging level. Learning should be meaningful, kids should be engaged, and their environment should feel safe and respectful. That is what I see at Southwest Charter School. If you want your kids to bring their learning to life, to be challenged to think for themselves, to share in compassion and respect for self and others, all within a creative process then this is a school for you.

- submitted by a parent
September 25, 2010
I absolutely agree with the first 2 star review. The reviewer states every concern and issue we had with the school. My child actually regressed at the school. The school is so incredibly boy heavy, and seems to only attract children with behavioral issues. My child actually felt incredibly unsafe there. The board is made up only of parents that have no knowledge or experience in running a school and make seriously poor choices dues to a lack of understanding on how a school should run. The school was so desperate to find a space they made a seriously bad choice for an extremely expensive rent in an office building. The setting is not a school and the decision made absolutely no sense.

- submitted by a parent
April 08, 2010
As the parent of two SWCS students and a member of the community since 2007, I highly recommend the school for their academic achievements, amazing teachers and staff and dynamic place based curriculum. Both of my children have a great relationship with their teachers and I know they are safe and well cared for when they are at school. The communication between parents, staff, teachers and the director is open and honest and parents actually have influence over how the school is organized. My children learn all the basics (reading, writing, arithmetic) but they also walk to the river or into the woods almost every day. They go on multiple field trips each month including the Central Library, Portland Youth Philharmonic and NW Children's Theater and have Spanish and PE every week.

- submitted by a parent
March 05, 2010
My son is in the SWCS and adores it. The place based education is a wonderful way for children to learn. He spends many hours outside using the environment around the school to learn. The teachers are very knowledgeable and also really love children Many times I have entered the classroom to kids giggling and laughing right along with the teacher. The classroom management is very respectful. The current facility as of March of 2010 is temporary. Next school year they will have a new building lined up that is going to be renovated for the needs of the students and teachers. I'm so pleased with this school. It is creating a love of learning for my son which in the long run is the most important thing for me.... a lifelong learner.

- submitted by a parent
February 03, 2010
This review submitted without content.

- submitted by a parent
February 02, 2010
I can't think of anything LESS accurate than the two-star review previously posted. We DO have a safe, quality program for students AND terrific leadership. As for enrollment, class sizes are limited to 22. As parents of a student at SWCS, I can say that we believe the school is truly one of the best public school options in Portland. In fact, we drive 2 hours every day for school. We have incredible staff - all but one of whom have their Master's Degree. They work more out of love for what they are doing than for any decent pay. They are creative, thoughtful and loving - our son adores going to school every day and has said holidays are too long! As a certified teacher, I know the curriculum is well within standards, yet is taught so that students learn to LOVE learning. We love the school and recommend it highly.

- submitted by a parent
January 24, 2010
Southwest Charter has a high number of children with special and behavioral needs that the school does not have the resources for. The facilities are poor, as is the board and director's leadership. They care more about staying afloat and getting enrollment than providing a safe quality program for families.

- submitted by a community member

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About this school

We believe; Our small size benefits each child by allowing us the flexibility to explore methods and techniques not logistically possible in more traditional settings. Community and parental involvement, as well as classroom volunteerism, is critical to our success. Children learn best when participating in authentic, hands-on learning experiences that are closely tied to the community. Our place-based approach improves student achievement, help students develop a closer connection with the community in which they live, creates an appreciation for the natural world, and cultivates a desire to serve as active and committed citizens.


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Last modified: April 04, 2015

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Southwest Charter School
0680 SW Bancroft St., Portland, OR  97239
(503) 244-1697
Last modified Southwest Charter School is a Charter school that serves grades K-8. It has received a GreatSchools rating of 6 out of 10 based on academic quality.
Southwest Charter School Rating: 4 out of 5 based on 28 reviews. Top