Both of my kids have attended Highland Park since kindergarten and we have been EXCEEDINGLY pleased with the quality of education, amazing, caring teachers and the social atmosphere. We love, love, love this school. Our children have made great, solid friends, had a lot of fun and are very happy. Our middle school admissions officer told us that children from Highland Park are among the best prepared for middle school. I rarely write a review online, but am disappointed to see so many negative reviews and felt the need to provide my own candid input. No school is perfect, but HP is probably about at close as you could ask for, public or private. Because of the parent involvement, the school offers many benefits of a private school without the cost of tuition. I think this school should be STRONGLY considered by all.
Awesome school with great teachers. Separation of kids based on ability level works very well and my kids love it. As far as PTA - yes, PTA raises money and spends that money to improve this school - more money they raise, more activities/fieldtrips/supplemental material/teachers/etc. can be provided to the kids. Improvement suggestion - Wish the school would offered a more comprehensive language program introducing kids to Far East languages as well as Latin.
If you read many of these reviews about Highland Park, you really pick up on the bitterness around the PTA and Fundraising. The PTA does raise a lot of money. Money which pays for positions that AISD won't fund. We currently pay for Technology teacher, Spanish teacher and a part time Reading specialist. We've help fund the Writing Without Tears program, the Math Attuned program and Fluency Centers. Plus we give money to grades to support them and enrichment fees for children who can't afford them. All which every kid in the school has access to. I don't agree that the PTA is cliquish. We BEG for help on a regular basis. Do we try to do too much? Maybe! As far as the academics go, I do agree with some of the other reviews. I have had a child in the high group, the medium and now a 504 kid. If you have a child with any kind of learning disability, this is the place to go! The high kids get great support too. In my experience, the middle kids can get missed. There are some some fantastic teachers and some that should leave. I have found that to be true at most schools. Even private. Overall, it really is a great public school! Just finished my 14th year at HP and still appreciate it
We've been extremely happy with the education our student is receiving at HP. Academics are very strong at HP--students average top 98% in standardized tests. Teachers assign projects beginning in K and students must learn to budget their time from an early age. Students also receive homework beginning in 1st but quantity does not seem over the top. The principal's blog provides details about each grade during the year. There may be a bit too much emphasis on raising money, at times all the events feel like a shake down, but we are thankful our school has the resources to support its teachers. We might consider pairing with another school, perhaps one that is minority-majority, on a community project to expose our kids to populations rich in other ways.
While I agree with some of the reviews about the cliquish feeling within the PTA (I felt that way, too), I have found as I have gotten to know people over the past 7 years at the school that the people in the PTA now are more inclusive than they seem. My advice would be to for volunteers to approach the PTA president if there is a committee or an event. It seems they are always trying to fill positions. The PTA does do a bunch of fundraising, but it also buys educational materials for the kids, supports the library and specials classes, supports the teachers, etc. I feel like that PTA support is what makes our kids breathe a little easier when standardized tests come around. The teachers don't have to teach to the test because they have other materials to use to teach the foundation kids need. As for academics, I have mixed feelings. It seems that the kids who are placed in the middle classes are not challenged enough. My child in the highest classes was challenged more. For the most part, I feel the kids get a good education. They do some great, really fun projects.
I love all the teachers that I have worked with as a parent. I don't like the entitlement of those who pay moeny for private parking spots and then are rude to other parents - in front of the children. Doesn't teach the children good values - and the PTA doesn't seem to mind as long as it brings in money. They sell parking spots, they sell passes so children can cut in line to games during Hoot. I don't understand how this reinforces any good values whatsoever. My parents attended Hoot and were mortified. Reviews are based on the lack of leadership of the principal and the PTA to practice what they preach.
This school is over-rated. It may have been great once, but that was some time ago. The principal has no idea what is happening in the classroom and seems out of touch. The "grouping by ability" is a joke as my son has experienced it first hand. He's never been challenged in 3 years and is bored in class most of the time. Teaching quality in my experience has been poor - I've seen lots of preference issues which other reviewers have already mentioned. They are correct. There is way too much emphasis on parent funding of special events. The school should be focused on the learning aspect. I am now looking at private schools.
Teaches entitlement while saying they promote "scottie" values. Raising money is key even if it means allow "rock star" kids whose parents have paid a lot of money to cut in line at the annual HOOT carnival. Kinder kids waited patiently in line while our future Wall Street jerks cut in line and played games over and over. Parents pay $20,000 a year for parking places. They don't practice what they preach. The teachers are great but values are important too and they are being lost by the actions of the PTA.
Lots of school spirit, plenty of money for extra programs. Education seems pretty good. Lots of emphasis on testing. Lots of emphasis on money and privilege. Too much fundraising -3 major events that the PTA strives to raise $50,000-$70,000 EACH event ask parents for $50-1500 sponsorship donations. They do help out students who can t afford things like $50 for trip to Sea World on a chartered bus for 1st graders (that's just one of the field trips).. Promotes entimtlement and they don t see it.. Worst example is raffle to be a Rock Start at the Halloween Carnival winner and 5 friends arrive in a limo and get to cut in line all night at the events and booths. Good character building for future real world execs and politicians I guess.
I concur w/ the parent who says 'They monopolize the high-profile PTA jobs, while many parents put in time but are not recognized.' Not just PTA but homeroom parent positions too. Every yr, it's the same clique revolving the spots. The last two principals have been asleep at the wheel. They have done nothing but collect their paychecks. And if you think your children's getting a good education, think again. My child got straight a's, and a gt student, throughout his 6yrs at HP. When he got into middle school, he failed math and science for 2 straight yrs. We had to pay handsomely to the Sylvan learning ctr to teach him what was not taught at HP. if I were to do it again, I should have enrolled him in Kirby Hall.
Highland Park has benefitted from the energetic leadership of a new principal 2 years ago. One of the most challenging aspects of educating students at Highland Park is the matching the expectations of the parents at the school. My own children have benefitted from exceptional teachers. Inconsistencies across grade levels are being addressed with alignment initiatives, but progress does take time. Parents are quite involved yet the school is certainly not driven by parents as the previous reviewer suggests. Every staff member has extensive professional experience in education, including parents who have been hired to serve as staff. I have 2 HP graduates and one current student and am extremely satisfied with the quality of education at HP!
There's ability testing, and it's inconsistantly messured from grade to grade. There are children who are moved up to 'higher' classes based on their parents' involvement and popularity in the school, rather on their assesment scores. So the whole idea of seperating the children on skill level is a joke. Some parents have the attitudes that they own the school. They monopolize the high-profile PTA jobs, while many parents put in time but are not recognized. If you've done enough time on the PTA in the high-profile jobs long enough, you'll be hired on as a regular paid employee at our school! There's a lot of chronism based advancement, where the teachers and some parents are much too familiar, which leads to favoritism amongst certain students. The teachers are spoiled with gifts/money , but give nothing in return. We've had really great and poor teachers. 5th grade was terrible.
I was first attracted to this school because it supporting Levin's 'A Mind at a Time' which focuses on each individual child's differences, working on their strengths and not only putting the focus on their weakness. I was disappointed. My child not only lacked a challange in the area she was advanced in, but ended up in the lowests classes in the placement overall, with extra attention to her weakness in special ed, with teacher, Read, who was a waste of a year. Not only did my child not improve on her weak areas but she lost a lot of ground where she had been strong. I would not recommend this school. The principal is very nice but is not familiar enough with what's going on with the teachers in their classrooms. She should be more acquinted in this area.
Academics are terrific and most of the teachers are great but the principal exhibits weak leadership especially in cases involving teacher discipline and safety.
My younger son just completed his elementary years at HP and I cannot imagine a better place for him. My older son also attended, and both were well prepared for middle school, even ahead in curriculum knowledge. The staff is friendly and truly enjoy working with kids. The atmosphere is positive and very safe. This is a school where almost all parents are involved and expect their children to learn and behave. Therefore, high academic standards are met. With a combined 12 years at this school, I only was displeased with one teacher. Some might think the school is too structured or make the students work too hard, but they really come out with an excellent knowledge base. I love the activities such as Halloween Hoot and the beautiful landscaping provided by parent involvement. You will love this school. Probabaly the best in Austin (private or public).
Highland park has a great academic program. The students that attend are getting an excellent education. The major concern about the school is a lack of racial/cultural diversity. Also, there is a major emphasis on fundraising at this school, which can be disturbing at times. While it is great for parents to support the school and help it to have additional resources, it would be nice to see them give some to other schools in the district without resources so that the disparity is not so great. Other than that, it's a great school. The teachers are wonderful, and very easy to work with and very accomodating.
This is a wonderful school I love everything about it and the staff they are all great
Highland Park has been good for my kids,it is like a prep school, with a lot of parents involved fundraising and running the school. Homework was not too harrowing, but I think parents are inclined to help too much. Some of the projects are amazing work for this age group and kids should really own the work. Nice teachers who care. Support your art, music, and phys. ed. teachers and programs!
Our child attended Highland Park for two years before we transferred. Although she is a very high tester and compliant - thus ideally suited for HP in theory - she and we have been much happier since we transferred. Highly structured (rigid?) environment, our teachers were indifferent in quality (perhaps we were unlucky), neither administration, teachers or PTA seemed inclined to hear anything about possible improvements. I think more flexibility about innovations with regard to best practices are preferable. Very weak leadership. Difficult environment for working mothers (PTA meetings at lunch time, many class events during the school day etc). We discovered that Austin has a cluster of excellent elementary schools in the central/west zone but their paths to excellence are quite different. We wish we had looked into this more closely before k.
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