My daughter just started Kindergarten at ADS this year. Although we are only a few weeks in, I will say that I am happy with our decision to send her here. To be completely honest there were a few things that made our decision a bit tough. Most of these things were superficial. Such as the older buildings and the lack landscaping (really does make a difference).I realized though, that what ADS offers in terms of learning experience was well above what our local elementary schools offer. My daughters class size is 17 kids. They hike, have eco-wellness and social and emotional programs incorporated into the curriculum. That's fantastic compared to our neighborhood elementary school. In just a few short weeks, her teachers (yes two) have sent (unprompted) email updates a couple times a week. The principal has sent several as well. We haven't experienced any issues with the "traffic". I'm not even sure what traffic people are referring to. Every school has issues with the car lines. We are really excited for what this school has to offer.
Major concerns about the new principal and 30% staff turnover after he completed his first year. He is trying to do too much too quickly and it is impossible to get a straight answer from him. At the rate he's running off the established teachers, the school will have all newbies within a couple of years which is a shame because one of the things that is unique about ADS is the teachers who are working hard to build a real community. Communication from the administration is non-existent and always last minute. Two examples of recent issues: 1. It's just a few days until school starts and they haven't released class lists yet (probably because they don't want to reveal how much they over-enrolled since one of the school's selling points is the low student:teacher ratio). 2. They have a new bus service and just let everyone know that it won't be running until 2-3 weeks into the school year. The new driver just got his CDL and has never driven children before and he will be driving 70 kids around in rush hour traffic on I35 - scary thought.
The new principal is going to turn ADS into a less than ordinary school. My kids will enter 1st and 4th grade next year and I have very mixed feeling right now. I m extremely worried about ADS's future. I love the community and I LOVE the teachers! However, the new principal is pretty much on probation as far as I m concerned. While he appears to be an effective leader and a go getter , he is pushing through some extremely aggressive initiatives in a short period of time. In my opinion, these initiatives are being pushed out (at light speed) at the expense of other, very important issues that still need to be fixed within the current infrastructure. I feel overall like he s a numbers guy with not a lot of emotional equity in our school (kind of like a career politician). Get the test scores up, attract more families and students, bigger, more not seeing the forest for the trees. I am not a crunchy hipster and I don t care about the sugar rules. What I do care about is this great school, and our community (and our teachers!!) being bulldozed so this guy can say oh, hey, look at all the great stuff *I* did, without considering the collateral damage. Stay gold ADS!!
This school has been such a wonderful experience for my 2 children. No, it's not perfect (is anything?) but I'm left without words with regard to the learning experience my kids receive here. It truly makes learning so much fun for them, not a day goes by where they don't look forward to going to school. The staff is incredibly qualified and so creative working to meet the needs and learning styles of each child. Yes traffic is crazy, communication could be better, but I can look past that for my children. ADS is in our hearts, we all (parents included) love this place.
ADS is the right place for my children and many others. The kids are happy, confident individuals starting in Kindergarten. The learning that takes place happens all over campus rather than just in a classroom. The weekly hikes and Eco-Wellness classes are something that my kids would not be getting at any other school. The teachers are, for the most part, outstanding and committed to this style of education. The parents are extremely involved as they need to be at this type of school. (I wish I could do more for the school myself!) The leadership of the school has gone through some transitions over the past few years however overall the spirit of the school has stayed the same. It is not perfect so I can't give it a 5 but I'd give it a 4.5 if I could!
We have been at ADS for 5 years now and love it. The focus is on real education rather than passing state tests. There is a true outdoor learning component, and kids are truly nurtured in their emotional and social growth.
My daughter is a first grader at ADS and has attended since kindergarten. Even though it is a bit of a drive and much less convenient than our well rated neighborhood school, it is worth it to send her there. The curriculum is centered on project based learning with a constructivist approach, which means kids there are learning by doing, finding connections between subjects and putting what they learn into practice. Instead of daily worksheets drilling facts, she is writing stories, researching and doing poster presentations, and explaining her math thinking rather than just writing down the right answer. She is also happy and excited to go to school because her class is a tight knit and supportive community. The teachers really care about the kids and create an environment where the kids learn to appreciate and help each other. ADS fosters whole child development which is something I really like about it. They just got approval to amend their charter to add middle school and I plan to keep her there through 8th grade.
We joined ADS with a first and a third grader after moving to Austin from out of state. Both kids were welcomed into the community right away. We were impressed with energetic outgoing teachers who teach real life lessons. On the weekly Friday hikes, the children get sunshine, exercise and nature. Ecowellness is a unique part of the curriculum. There is good communication via Rallyhood and email. Our new principal has made excellent changes already and is visible and approachable at school. My oldest, now a fourth grader, is telling me to write "We love ADS!" right now.
Caring teachers, outdoor education, 1:16 ratios, gardens, creative and invigorated teachers, involved families. I appreciate the careful growing and nurturing if my children who attend this school. Positive discipline and loving staff. A very involved parent body. We spent 3 years at another school and are a new family who love the difference. My children have blossomed and are challenged. No grades doesn't mean too easy. I love the portfolio evaluations - they really help us understand what my children are learning.
We have 2 kids at ADS, and we're very happy there. The teachers are highly educated (moreso than our exceptionally-rated neighborhood school). There's no bullying, and the kids are generally sweet and kind. I love that my kids learn so much without realizing they're learning. They also get a lot more individual attention, and more challenge. The homework is less busywork and more thought-provoking. We also love the ecowellness program and Friday hikes. The kids don't feel like they've been cooped up all day, but they're not just "playing," either. They really do a lot of learning outside when weather permits. The teachers really care about the kids, which makes me feel like my children are safe. Most of all, my kids are happy and enjoy going to school.
Not a school. More like a group of buddies running a fundraising machine that feeds back into their close knit group. "Oh, you're a parent? wanna be an administrator? hired. Oh, I know you from somewhere, wanna teach?"...the ridiculous list goes on and on. Look at how often parents and staff bounce around from position to position, all of which they would be completely unqualified if vetted by any other charter, private, or public school. But hey, they can all hold hands and sing good intentions while the education and emotional health of young children are sacrificed. The complete disregard for very basic standards and regulations has harmed children at ADS. Don't be fooled. ADS carries some dark secrets. Investigate before you enroll your child.
Both of my children are non-traditional learners, and ADS has served them well. My son, especially, required a very individualized approach, and ADS has jumped through hoops to make it work. My kids love learning now. I don't believe any regular public school, or likely and other charter school, would have worked so hard and tried so many things to accommodate my kids.
We are on our third year at ADS and have had a great experience. The team teaching has been wonderful and the specials are very enriching. My kids go on hikes every friday and garden every week. Science, art, and music are all a large part of the curriculum. They don't just teach to the test like most schools in Texas. Yes it is a school filled with hipsters but that by no means implies a lack of diversity. My children's classes have all been very diverse. As for the food restrictions, if a parent is going to get offended because certain foods aren't allowed on campus, I fear there is a bigger issue. ADS would NEVER allow a teacher to rip anything from a child's hand. If a parent sends their child to school with a sugar and preservative laden lunch, its the teachers who have to deal with the effects of those chemicals. The food policy is there to help kids get the most nutrition so they can function at their best. Parents should be involved in their child's academics so that they aren't surprised at the end of the year if the child has fallen behind. These bad reviews sound to me like parents blaming the school for their own shortcomings.
My child attended ADS for one year. I found the parent/teacher communication to be unacceptable. As a parent, after basically demanding a parent teacher conference, I was told that my child was doing just great. My child was not doing great, not at all. As a parent you are often told what they think you want to hear. It almost seems like you have to be on the payroll to know what is going on at the school. The administration is no better. My child was in 3rd grade and had no idea who the principal was. Really? In a school with less than 400 students. Most of the faculty have children attending the school and it seems they move on when their child is done. The school has no diversity whatsoever. If you and your child can fit in with the clique, you will have a chance at succeeding in this school. The test results speak for themselves. It's hard to send your child to what you believe is a "better" school and watch him/her regress. I would not recommend this school for a normal well adjusted child.
Austin Discovery School is an incredibly different school compared to anything I have ever attended or any my daughters have attended. A school that places such emphasis on community, enrichment, and educating children on the environment is a school that would benefit any child. My daughter has blossomed as a student and as a person due to the quality of the education she is receiving from the wonderful teachers and staff at this school. The staff and parents here work so hard to beautify the campus and help make our school a great place to come and learn and play. Honestly, the only bad thing is I wish it went higher than 6th grade. We have one more year to go and we will miss this place so much.
My 2 kids have both gone here since Kindergarten. My daughter will be entering 4th grade this fall and has thrived here, even excelled. My son on the other hand is being held back in the 1st grade because "he doesn't retain math and reading skills." He has had the same teachers for two years and I was not made aware of his struggle until VERY late in the year, like only 2 months left. They stuck him in tutoring which 2 weeks before the end of school they told me didn't work and that he was going to have to repeat 1st grade and may need to be tested for dyslexia etc. WHY THE HECK DIDN'T YOU CATCH THIS EARLIER AND TEST HIM THEN SO HE DIDN'T SUFFER HAVING TO REPEAT THE 1ST GRADE!!! His scores showed that he was at grade level at the beginning of the year and that they dropped! He reads just fine to me at home and his math does need work but I am blown away that help didn't come until it was too late. The earlier reviews about it being a hipsters paradise are accurate. The over the top sugar control is accurate. I have such mixed feelings because we have had very different experiences with both our children. We are trying them for one more year. we shall see how it goes.
I have two children, and both have attended or are attending ADS. My daughter graduated 6th grade from ADS and has just completed her first year at Kealing - a very challenging, competitive middle-school - where she earned straight A's every report card. My son is still at ADS where he is excelling at math and reading. ADS is based on solid principals of how children learn best. They work hard to nurture inquisitive, thoughtful children. They understand that outdoor time is imperative for cognitive development. Sweet snacks are prohibited because sugar spikes cause so many negative issues. The teachers here are teaching because they love it, and it shows. But ADS is not for everybody. The school doesn't always do a great job educating the parents about the benefits of these ways, so if you don't come in knowing, it will just seem oddly loose and restrictive at the same time. It's not a great school for rote learners, or kids whose learning style requires rigorous structure. It is a wonderful school for people who want enthusiastic, life-long learners with a genuine appreciation for the world we live in.
Our child is not coming back next year. I absolutely love the idea of ADS and loved everything I was told on the school tour. But I barely saw any of it during the school year. Academics were less than. Yes, she learned about rainforest and how it needs to be protected. But nothing else! The parent community is weak, there is no diversity. Mold is in the building. Filthy dusty classrooms. Constant water puddles in the hallways from the water fountains. It's like noone cares and noone takes pride. And the food police! Man. I am all for healthy eating. I couldn't send her anything in her lunchbox that had added sugar. When she brought a bottle of hibiscus tea with a little bit of honey, the teacher ripped it out of her hands and dumped it in the sink. If you are looking for a school where parents compete who is more crunchy, whose kids completely lack any kind of personal hygiene, who have no social skills, but sure know A LOT about rainforest -- then this is the school for you. Otherwise, don't bother.
It pains me to rate ADS as below average, but in spite of effort on all fronts, the school did more harm than good for my child. We did not realize the full extent of the negative effect of his years at ADS until he began attending another school. It is my hope that things improve at ADS, but I would advise any parent considering ADS to seek feedback from families who have left the school to formulate a balanced view of its strengths and weaknesses.
All that on the wab page about teachers working together with parents to benefit the children is a complete farce. ADS is working for ADS to generate funding just like any other public school. As long as you don't have some idealized notion that this school is any different than any other public school, you should be fine. It probably is just as good as some public schools in Austin, but it is currently listed as academically unacceptable, so... This year they have over promised and under delivered.
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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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