We are in our 2nd year with two elementary age kids at Chaparral. We love the small class size, diversity, and short school days. No school is perfect. There are few extracurricular activities and no playground. But the younger grades do receive P.E. And enrichment classes that rotate between music, theater, art and health.
First, I advise you to throw out all of the "Star is THE best (or worst) school in the world" reviews - they are obviously biased and written to persuade. Do your own research and look at facts. A significant number of high school students have left over the past year due to dissatisfaction over minimal instruction, limited number of courses , strong cliques, and teacher (and staff) -student favoritism. There is a strong emphasis on the speech team, which could be a good thing, except that the school places less emphasis on other academics. For example, the Board approved a large amount of funds for the speech team, yet would not approve the Biology teacher's request for enough textbooks to distribute to each student, because they felt the the textbook downloaded onto their oft-malfunctioning tablets were sufficient. Regarding the state's school rankings, remember that standardized test scores do not provide much information. The state-mandated passing grade for the STAAR EOC exams in Biology, Geometry, and English I in 2015 were 50%, 46%, and 61%, respectively. That's not hard to accomplish with minimal instruction. If your student is looking to explore different areas of interest and want more opportunities, look to the larger schools. There are excellent public schools in the area.
I am a proud CSA alumni and have recently completed my first year of college. I graduated from CSA with not only a 4.0 GPA but also an understanding of how to study, use my time effectively, and succeed in classes whether I love the subject or not. The condensed schedule does mean that there is a lot more homework than at your typical high school, however I can tell you from my college experience that this amount of outside work prepares you tremendously for the hectic college schedule that you may have later on. This school challenges you to be your best and because I worked hard and got the grades to show that, I was accepted into the Honors College at a major university. Not only that, but CSA taught me enough time management that throughout high school I was able to keep up my GPA while also being involved in multiple school clubs. Because of these experiences, I was presented with a Service and Leadership Scholarship from my university. I fully believe that CSA gave me the knowledge I needed in the main school subjects, but more importantly it taught me how to succeed in a challenging environment. Yes there is a lot of homework, and yes you have to put time and effort into your classes to get an A. But coming from a current college student, I can tell you that having to work for my 4.0 in high school is the reason that I have had the skills to be able to keep up that 4.0 GPA in college. CSA did a great job of preparing me for my next step after high school, and I can't thank the teachers and administration enough for giving me the opportunity to attend this school.
Chaparral Star Academy has been a wonderful choice for our family. I feel confident the children will continue to receive an excellent education provided by amazing teachers. The administration will not tolerate bad behavior and provides student/parent support unlike anything we've experienced before.
We truly love the school, but would prefer a female be added to the middle school staff to support behavior management, especially for the boys, who at this age can often exhibit poor conduct choices in a social setting. The school principal, Mrs. Hagen, has been very supportive and we are confident the school will continue to improve and excel. There is no doubt it's where we prefer our kids attend school.
This school has excellent teachers who know their subjects well and work with very few resources to teach students, many who attend for the shorter hours than for the academics. Teachers work longer hours than at other public schools due to the double daily sessions they teach. It is a challenging environment for the teachers and staff, but they work hard and care about their students. The school works well academically through middle school. As with many small schools, there are problems. Once in high school, the course choices are lmited, even among the core subjects. Currently, chemistry and physics classes are taught online, with only a classroom monitor present. Student enrollment is small, so the social dynamics plays a huge role. Children of staff appear to get preferential treatment. Bullying has been a growing problem over the years, but not addressed. Students have left the school when the social dynamics have become difficult. If a student is immune to the social hierarchy, wants the flexibility of a shorter school day, and is satisfied studying mostly core subjects, the school will work for him/her. Otherwise, a different school will be a better choice.
This is an excellent school if you have a child in the elementary or middle school. Once your child hits high school RUN AS FAST AS YOU CAN!! The board does not support the high school students and allows disadvantages to their own student body. There are little to no honors, pre-AP and AP classes and when asked about them they will tell you "all our classes are on honors levels" but the kids get no credit for such. Very disappointing school and school board. Not an elite school at all.
CSA is NOT a good fit for you if... > You want a personalized curriculum. It s a traditional public school education, complete with TEKS/standardized testing, condensed into 4 hrs. If you want alternative educational options, check altedaustin.com. >You seek a strong sense of community at events. Parent involvement is low and it s usually the same parents. >You expect stellar teachers across the board. As with any school, there are a handful of fantastic educators, a handful you wish weren't there, and a lot who fall somewhere in between. CSA might be a good fit for you if >Parents are willing to be co-educators. A condensed 4 hour school day means increased responsibility at home. >You easily fall into line with expectations/rules. Admin is cordial but usually unwavering when it comes to issues. You often hear "As a K-12 school, we face a challenge with <insert concern> because..." >You value school rankings & awards. CSA earns many of them but exemplary awards don't mean the curriculum is superior. Students who don't perform well in this environment often transfer out, leaving only those who excel in this type of education model. That can skew performance indicators.
We are happy with the school after our child's first year in kinder. The main pro is small class size (15), which allows for individualized attention. My child reads well and the teacher was proactive in making sure she stays challenged. There seem to be few/no issues with bullying. The con is that as a charter school, Star does not receive as much funding as the local school. It shows in the facilities (lack of a library, playground, greenspace). Teachers have said they appreciate how much less bureaucracy they have to deal with here vs. at a regular public school. The half day allows us extra time to pursue music & sports w/o tiring out our child or running into weekends. Other notes: does not feel like a traditional school. It is in an office building; entrance is cold & concrete. There are dogs onsite. It is very religiously diverse, so they are careful not to celebrate certain holidays. The school feels very "family" where kids know other kids across grades. The families seem to be less well-off than the suburban area where we live but committed to their kids' education and on the whole, people we like to be associated with.