We really like ACE a lot. There is nothing else like it in the Austin area. The school holds regular information sessions for parents. If you are interested this is a great way to learn more about the school. We really feel like we have found a school home for our child that will last till it's time to go to college. The staff have very impressive credentials and are also incredibly caring. They understand gifted kids and are ready to help them succeed from Day 1. Our child loves school so much an early bedtime is accepted willingly so we can be early to school the next day. I am so glad we found this school.
I am writing this review as the Curriculum Director for ACE Academy. I maintain our accreditation status and review the school s curriculum. I can speak to the incredibly strong but flexible curriculum at ACE. ACE teachers follow concrete sets of standards to create courses that exceed milestones in learning. Here s what makes ACE better suited for gifted learners: we don t follow state or national standards blindly. We consult those standards and create our own. We then allow room in our curriculum for teachers to explore more deeply the lessons the students find most interesting. So, ACE does have its own curriculum one that is reviewed internally and externally by the nation s top accrediting body. It is a myth that accelerated learning requires increased homework. If you expect your child to spend hours completing worksheets or homework, ACE is not the place for your child. If you want your child to follow a textbook cover to cover, ACE isn't what you re looking for. We consult textbooks, but, for us, that s the exception rather than the rule. ACE is innovative and flexible while remaining dedicated to the curricular standards that shape our learning goals.
Austin definitely needs a school for gifted kids. ACE is not ready to be one of them. The school do have some great teachers, but it is very disorganized, no textbooks, no strong curriculum. As a parent of a gifted child, I do not believe in giving " freedom" to this type of kids. I think they need organization as much as regular children, if not more. Their "gifts" have to be channelled, not let loose to "create". At least I know it does not work for my child. The school grows in numbers, but not quality.
I often say that if I could design a school for my son, it would look a lot like ACE Academy. They understand the special needs of the gifted and customize the learning experience based on their needs. My son is strong in science/math, but struggles with reading. In a regular school, they would hold him back in the areas where he excels. Special after school activities are designed for special interests: fencing, chess club, art, robotics, Legos, and even Hogwarts club. I am always impressed by the level of work they are doing and the pace at which they move. My 3rd grader comes home understanding scientific concepts I didn't see until high school or college. ACE also understands the emotional challenges of gifted kids and incorporates emotional intelligence and self-awareness work to help with issues like perfectionism or lack of focus/drive when things get hard. They hold parent seminars to help us all understand what our children are going through and need. I only go down one star because the physical building is not ideal, but they are working on building or finding a new location.
While our son was at a fabulous preschool when he was 3 1/2, he was waking up at 3 a.m. on a regular basis wanting to read or play games, clearly short on the stimulation needed during the day. During his teacher/parent conference, his current teacher at the time recommended we investigate ACE Academy. So we went and once he started our lives changed drastically (sleeping through the night was a wonderful change!). He loved going to school, running in calling to me to "hurry mom". Our second son started at ACE when he was 3 as well and loves it. The flexibility your child receives in their education is invaluable. One thing you never want your child to hear is "we will learn that next year" or "you are too young to learn that", which you will not hear at ACE Academy. The teachers are so patient and often will redirect the lesson plans according to the interests in the classroom.
ACE Academy's wonderful teachers and staff have made a huge positive impact on my children and family. Using a strengths-based approach, they help kids develop to their fullest potential academically, creatively and socially. We believe that student feedback matters in developing curriculum. ACE's class offerings are are flexible enough (including such diverse classes as Latin, Emotional Intelligence, gardening, "history of zombies," etc.) to ensure a top-notch, well rounded education and to instill and protect a genuine love of learning that will last throughout our children's lifetimes. Though I would like to see more physical education incorporated into the curriculum, we have found the perfect place for our two gifted, quirky, outspoken boys to reach their potential and enjoy learning.
ACE has been a wonderful experience for our family. It is amazing to see kids so happy to go to school each day!
We are very happy with ACE Academy. We did ALOT of research. The one and two star ratings seem to come from families who pulled their children out of ACE because it wasn't a good fit. I have read all of the reviews and it mostly sounds like these families should have never enrolled at ACE in the first place. They gave us ample time and information about how the school is run. I suggest you take a long look at ACE to make sure it is the right fit. This is not a traditional school and will not satisfy parents who are looking for a more traditional learning enviornment. For us, it has been outstanding.
The 3rd grade science class is taught by a PhD in Science Education, an IT professional, and a senior science major from UT.In 1st 6 weeks students do scale drawings and investigations measuring mass, volume, and distance.They use search engines for developing research projects in Word, Excel to collect and organize data, and Power Point to organize presentations of their work.They experimentally determine the % of water in okra, taste okra and learn about its history. They design germination and growth experiments, using fractions and % to describe their results. They currently have at a least three types of winter vegetables growing. They watch BBC and use National Geographic to learn about caring for their live Venus fly traps. They observe live mosquito larvae and discover the connection to birds/West Nile Virus.They play games to explore ecological relationships, and develop advanced vocabulary while learning life and element cycles.They also explore fossil fuels and alternatives. Students are integrating information age technology while analyzing data sets, discovering science for themselves, using sources and communicating ideas with the same tools that scientists use.
I saw a learning sequence in my son s 6th grade classroom in another school where the system gives all the teachers scripts to read, word for word, supposedly to improve quality control. It was on the food web of the Snowy Owl. The number of Snowy Owls in our area was equal to the number of students in that classroom who showed any enthusiasm for the highly scripted lesson that neither deviated to answer any questions nor provided any local animals. Is this the kind of lifeless curriculum and classroom I want? Not for my gifted child. ACE Academy enacts curriculum in a way that brings it to life for the learners. It connects to other core subjects, recognizes and values student questions, and fuels curiosity. To say that there is no curriculum at ACE Academy or the teachers are no good is much easier to accept for some parents than to admit that their own child can t keep up in a progressive school, which may also explain why the child continues to struggle academically even in a non-gifted classroom. This school is not a good fit for everyone. But it does have curriculum and highly qualified teachers recognized by a professional accreditation organization.
There seems to be a good deal of misinformation in some of the other posts. ACE Academy went through a rigorous process of becoming accredited, in which their curricula, qualifications, and student evaluations were all reviewed by an outside committee. Teachers use a combination of resources and base many curriculum choices on the Common Core standards as well as best fit for gifted learners. ACE also uses a nationally normed standardized test for ages 8 and up to gage progress and look for topics that still need to be covered. It is true that not every teacher has been the best fit for this school environment, and those teachers do not stay long. I have seen so much progress in my kids and can't imagine a better school for them.
I'll echo many of the same comments. ACE is an amazing concept and they have great camps, but it fails miserably as a school. They have no curriculum. That's right, no curriculum. So it's entirely up to inexperienced and unsupervised teachers to figure out what and how to teach. They tend to gloss over the fundamentals to do "cool" things and "go where the kids want to go". We left because we felt our child was backsliding academically, and boy were we right. Our son is at least one full grade year behind his peers in the public school (despite ACE's testing that said he was three grade levels ahead of his age), and he's outright failing math and reading. We're sick that we sent him to ACE and hope that we can catch him up with tutors (twice a week) and an hour a night of our involvement. All but one of the kids he started ACE with have since left for the same reasons. It's a shame that Austin's only gifted school is a failure. I d highly recommend you avoid ACE until it has a proven track record of success. Cool concept but it's way too risky to let your kids' education be part of a failed experiment.
The administrators have a good concept, but are lacking in the supportive staff to implement their vision. Be sure to ask about the teacher's qualifications for teaching gifted kids. Many teachers do not have degrees to teach, or an education background. This is something to consider when looking for a school for your gifted child.
The culture of learning and discovery at ACE is what makes it a place where kids are excited to arrive each morning, and to discuss and explore their favorite subjects and ideas with their peers. The ACE faculty are people who have pursued professional and academic achievement in their subject areas, and have come to teaching because they are just so excited about the material and passionate about sharing it with young people. The school is constantly involved with local and national programs in the fine arts, math and science, community service, etc., so students experience the thrill of competition and a greater community of learning, as well as discovering relevance and enthusiasm for the material from class. Teachers design the classroom learning to be as hands-on and multi-sensory as possible; the small class sizes and hand-selected student body mean that curriculum and lessons can be tailored to individual students' needs while still consistently meeting and exceeding state and national requirements. The opportunites at ACE give intensely curious and capable students a chance to learn from passionate, experienced teachers, and the results are always inspiring.
ACE is an amazing idea for a school. The parents are involved and the co-founders are passionate about their mission. A school that embraces what ACE does is so incredibly needed, but ACE just doesn't stand up to what it sells. Their teachers are VERY poorly managed and trained, and there is no curriculum unless the teachers write it themselves. They lack administration completely and need a true principal who can manage the school itself. Management by the co-founders (two parents of gifted kids that suffered at the hands of the public school system) does not work, regardless of how passionate they are. The school is not accredited either, and that can cause issues with transference to another school. The idea of a school like this is so incredible, but ACE does not do what it should in order to fulfill its mission, so please be careful before you put your gifted child or your twice exceptional child in this environment.
ACE is fantastic, but I'm extremely impressed with the middle school. It's well organized and under fantastic leadership. It's a safe, challenging, and nurturing environment for my child. The pitfalls that are present in other middle schools do not exist at ACE. It's a perfect fit!
I would like to clarify the requirements for qualification. Parents must provide documentation of giftedness either with a GT program acceptance letter from a public school or an official individual IQ test report. To say that not all of the students at the school are gifted is inaccurate and hurtful. The school works to combat the notion that all gifted children perform well in traditional academics. Some gifted children demonstrate a high level of functioning in all areas, but many show strength in only some areas. In some cases, a learning difference or disability may mask otherwise high cognitive functioning. Furthermore, many siblings demonstrate differences in learning style and areas of strength. This does not indicate a difference in intelligence. Siblings of current students are required to go through the same admissions process as the first student, including testing.
I have been a teacher at ACE Academy for three years now, and I have found it to be a marvelous environment for gifted students. Placement in a class is never based on their age, but rather on their demonstrated ability for the subject, and the school makes every effort to be flexible so that students with extraordinary aptitude for certain topics can move faster and pursue more advanced material. I had a 4 year old in my math group last year who kept up with the 8-10 year olds, and he loved the class! ACE students cover all of the classes that you would expect, but are also offered lots of unique choices for electives. Even within their classes, students are given a plethora of options. Teachers are trained to allow their student to approach a project or show mastery of a subject in several ways. We don't expect every single student to do the exact same project in the exact same way. The students at ACE are taught by an outstanding team of dedicated teachers. We constantly embrace new ways of teaching and keep an open mind while addressing the quirks of these intense children. We are supported by two hard-working cofounders, a talented staff, and a highly active parent community.
I was an assistant in the Pre-K class last year and my son goes to ACE. I think that ACE is an excellent school that encourages creativity and independence. The teachers work hard to help every student succeed and the students love school. The classes are small and the parents are involved.
Wonder why there is so much wide opinion - teachers saying school is great - parents saying "1 star" ... wonder what is going on - i would stay away from school !
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