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Rawson-Saunders-Austin Area School For Dyslexics5
Posted September 29, 2014
- a parent
Great School For building broken self esteem, and showing your kid how smart they are. The teachers are dedicated and interesting and truly understand how to teach their students. The Head of School is a brilliant, creative, experienced educator, completely committed to her students success. They offer a diverse elective choice and engaging classes. Parent involvement is voluntary and available for those who are interested in the PA.
This is the best school in Austin for children with severe dyslexia. The entire school is geared towards dyslexic learners: everything from the daily schedule, binder system to organize material, physical education, music, art and drama works together to boost the skills that dyslexics lack and build upon the the very real strengths of dyslexic students. We have found the math program (Singapore Math) to be exceptionally strong as well as the drama and art program. The school is expensive and the administration sometimes opaque but they are making great strides in improving communication with parents. For truly dyslexic children the school offers a therapeutic environment that is not available anywhere else. Classes are small and the teachers and CALTs are outstanding!
I cannot imagine teaching anywhere else. We have amazing leadership in our administration, who always makes decisions based on what is best for our students. I have seen the heart if this school from behind the scenes, and can say with confidence that every staff member works tirelessly to ensure that students reach their full potential. Not only that, but we truly believe that the potential of our students, often not recognized in other settings, is very high. So we provide them with a rigorous, challenging curriculum that DOES follow and even exceed state standards. Our academic program is held accountable by accrediting agencies, one of which recently award us with the highest possible rating. We meet kids where they are and are not limited by state regulations or bureaucracy. I am so proud to work in an environment where we are able to implement researched based methods in a caring, stimulating environment. I see students' lives changed every year as they receive the education they deserve.
Carefully read the negative comments; I wish I had. Rawson-Saunders is meant for children who cannot read. If your child can read but requires some help, then hire a private Academic Language Therapist. I fell for the choreographed song and dance routine that lures in desperate parents. I was told that my bright child would be challenged, that the curriculum is individualized and that he would be taught in a creative way. Not true. The curriculum in all subjects, especially math and writing, does not meet state standards. My child wrote very little and seemed to do a lot of coloring and fill in the blank worksheets. He was desperately bored because the pace of instruction moved at the pace of the slowest learner. Expect few classroom updates, newsletters and very little returned work. Any concerns about curiculum are diverted by the school leadership which is defensive and quick to try to cover up concerns. I forfeited thousands of dollars of tuition money and have not looked back. My child's ALT instruction was the only bright spot in this experience.
This may be the right school for your child. But be aware that they do NOT adhere to standards (TEKS) and there is zero accountability. I used to think of testing as a problem, but now realize what can happen when there is no standard and no accountability. Unlike special education or 504 in public schools, you as a parent have no safeguards, no voice, no recourse. Major educational decisions were made without consulting or even informing us. Questions about these decisions were not taken kindly. Our only recourse was to withdraw but that still cost us a full-year's tuition. There are definitely some strengths, especially in reading and language arts. Do NOT expect a rigorous academic program and high expectations.
My child attended RawsonSaunders grades 2-5. She arrived unable to read or even recite the alphabet. She now reads above grade level and LIKES to read!. Her confidence soared once she began attending this school - it's very powerful to be around people just like you (not only are the students dyslexic, but many of the teachers are, too) and to be taught in a way you can learn. So not only did she receive a fantastic education, she had a revolution in her feelings of self-worth and competence. This is something a child who is put into special ed classes/dyslexia tutoring in public school simply will not experience. When we first arrived, the existing principal was a very "reading" oriented educator/administrator. thus other subjects (math, science) were severely underemphasized. With the "new" (now beginning year 3) principal, the science/math portion is being strongly emphasized, and it is really coming along. The teachers, to a woman/man, are FANTASTIC. The only drawback to the school is its small size - about 100 students. That means limited social choices for children's friendships and non-academic school activities. My daughter's experience here: PRICELESS.
Rawson-Saunders has a very impressive, creative, dedicated staff, and I'm proud to be associated with everyone involved with the school! The new math program and extracurricular offerings are stellar. Of course, the school continues to do an excellent job of teaching dyslexic students to read in a way that they can learn best.
I can and do appreciate the drive towards providing specialized services for dyslexic children. This school does a great job at working with children to build their confidence in reading. What they don't do well is building their capabilities in other areas like Math. In addition, the leadership does not feel comfortable when questions are asked about the curriculum and can get passive agressive or defensive. My experience was not the best. The school says they are accepting of diversity, however, they have an attitude that some children are being done a favor by being allowed to attend. The school lacks cultural diversity in student poplulation and teachers which fuels a bit of remarkable ignorance since dyslexia is a learning difference/disability.
Our son attended Rawson-Saunders from 2nd through 5th grades and received an outstanding, well-rounded education. With daily, individualized academic language therapy, he made tremendous strides in his ability to read and write.