I've had children in this school for the past 8 years. My parents were both teachers - one at the elementary level and the other 30+ years at the middle school level. Vanguard level work was entirely appropriate and challenging. I've spoken to the principal one on one on many occasions. We did absolutely nothing to prepare our K level daughter for school and she flourished. My wife and I both work. My kids have always done their own projects and received A's. The comments below are confounding.
Poster on Aug. 30th nailed it! Agreed 100%! The kids are treated like soldiers and the expectations of them are ridiculous -- in and out of the classroom! The work given in the vanguard classes are not even close to being grade or age level appropriate.
I've never seen a note from the administration inviting us parents to talk to them. It's not easy to find someone to talk to at WUES. If you are brave enough to reach out to an administrator, don't expect a warm welcoming meeting. This school is great if you never have concerns or questions or if your child is in Vanguard but not for other kids. That is why you see the huge difference in reviews on this site. Also, this is not a school for working parents. A working parent cannot hope to get the preferential treatment that non-working parents who can volunter recieve.
We spent one year in a GT Kindergarten class before moving our child to another school. It was a rough year for many reasons, some of which are reflected in the negative comments here including mounds of homework and special projects that are not age or developmentally appropriate, obvious ranking of children, and competiveness between parents. Your best bet is if your Kindergartener is an older age who can already read. They need to be talkative, and externally motivated. Introverted and shy children will be overwhelmed or may be overlooked. There are positives about the school including involved parents but overall the negatives made the school not a fit for our child. We were na ve enough to think living in this neighborhood ensured a great education, but it is just not that simple anymore. It took a lot of personal research, speaking with educators, and visiting other schools for me to come to understand that the problems with WUES are complex. I certainly now understand teaching to the test. Our new school has a wonderful art program, science labs, Spanish and music. And it is a nurturing environment for kids to explore.
We moved to this neighborhood for "the schools". There is a lot more to a school than the stars posted on the wall outside (and they get those from focusing MONTHS on practicing the tests!). When the principal threatens to "walk out" if the parents get a vote, then yes, that's a problem. The school in General has no art, no music, punishes by eliminating recess some days. The lunch ladies blow whistles to quiet the kids, silent lunches are the norm (not just during testing) and kids are put on stage (humiliation) when misbehaving at lunch (talking too loud)....I have witnessed this numerous times. The overall attitude at the school is sadly militant. Kids wet their pants because they are denied a bathroom break. It was more than any family should tolerate. Why are there 1200+ kids here? Because we all hear how wonderful WUES is. You don't see it for what it is until your children are crying about going every morning - and you are the room mom and get a front row seat to what's going on up there. No inspiration. A bunch of worksheets, worthless homework, test training....sucking the love for learning out of our children. Think hard before putting your kids here.
West University Elementary is awful. The school is a big promoter of the parents doing the projects for the kids based on the Texas History Fair with the trifold the students had on display. It was obvious that the parents did the work last year not the students. I am a teacher and I can identify student work vs fourth or second grade work. The second grade Science fair was not any better. As far as the principal he has demonstrated inappropriate behavior discussing issues with parents with the local barber using the parents name. When my children report back and tell me what the barber heard from the principal there is a problem.
The negative comments about this school are counter intuitive. Why do over 1200 people continue to chose this school when comparable schools have approx 70. ? Why do people pay $100 a square ft. for mere dirt to be zoned to this school. True, the school's after school program is inferior to others. I'm sending my kid here next year because the Principal - whom I've never met - has the guts to create all GT classes and then rank them so that the brightest in are classes with the brightest, not those who passed the GT test with a real score of 60 (another issue). Other principals are worried about how this segregation of students may affect their overall test scores, performance of those who poorer performers in the classroom or the racial quotas that they deny. It seems this guy just wants each kid to reach full potential. Sadly, a lost priority in public secondary ed.
It is a shame that a parent would "bash" a school when they are mad at someone. It is important to be factual. Here are the true facts: 1. WUES has 3 administrators and 1 Inst. Co. Three of them have their masters and have been with the district for 29 plus years. I would say they were more than qualified. 2. ELL policies are set by state and federal governments. Take your complaints to them. The school only follows policy. 3. The principal has no political aspirations- he is about to retire! The magnet coordinator has multiple jobs. She is the VIPS, Vanguard and Testing coordinator. She keeps the school calendar and sets up for all events. She is also the PTO liason and is an administrator over 3 grade levels. If she is aggressive ( which I have never seen in 6 years) it is because parents in WU don't like the word no! 4. Last,but not least - the ethnicity % is not set up by the school. It is their zoned area make-up. The school holds 1250 students and only 50 students come from outside of that zone. A parent should be a positve builder of their child's school. The school listens and updates its curr. on a yearly basis. The vanguard program is very impressive .
West U is a large (+\- 1200 students) elementary school in a GIGANTIC District (>210,000 students). The school is overwhelmingly WHITE (see data on HISD website) and most come from families with plenty of resources. West U offers ELL only for non Spanish speakers. Many families walk to school in the morning and socialize in the playground in the afternoon. That said, the school has been following a formula for the past -who knows how many- years that is overly outdated and inappropriate for learning in the 21st century. The principal is a figurehead who seems to view his position as more political than pedagogical. He hardly makes himself available to parents or students. The magnet coordinator (why the position exists, nobody can explain because the school is SUPER over subscribed -which supports the idea that Houston's magnet school system is primarily a way of selectively segregating schools.) is aggressive and under qualified for the leadership she assumes. The school runs like clockwork (part of the formula). Students must be silent in the halls, form lines, practice most of the year for exams. Many teachers are good, some are novices & a few are burned out. 0 Creativity Zone.
Unfortunately the quality of this school has deteriorated over the years. Not all but many of the teaching staff use reprimanding methods that hinder children to thrive. Very disturbing.
This is a wonderful school. As a dad of 3 kids that currently attend the school, I've noticed that the quality of the teachers, students and parents is top-notch. The large number of sharp, active, dedicated stay-at-home moms (ex-lawyers, doctors, professors etc) provides a big boost to the school programming, support, etc and makes the school one of the best out there. In addition the school consistently ranks at the very top on statewide measures, competitions (Odyssey of the Mind, spelling bee, etc).
After reading these reviews it is hard to ignore some of the complaints & criticisms by several parents. This is a very good school with many excellent teachers and a strong PTO, but agree with statements made by several about the emphasis on test scores, little administrative interaction and communication with parents, hiring of brand-new teachers with no experience and poor track record with kids (but a parent who works in HISD admin), and a lot of political maneuvering. Many teachers who have been complained about repeatedly remain in their jobs b/c the deliver good test scores each year. I do strongly disagree about the PTO criticisms and community service projects done throughout the year. The PTO is active, organized and raises a tremendous amount of money that goes directly back into the school. The community service projects are for excellent causes and at least show some of the kids who live in a bit of a bubble that there are many people in need outside the perimeter of our neighborhood. I do also agree with one reviewer that it is really sad that this school has no foreign language ancillary class and a pitiful art and music program. Overall, a good school.
I find it interesting that the person reviewing West University Elementary School could say in such an anecdotal manner with no evidence to back such negative statements. The TAKS, Standford scores, and the number of placement into high ranking middle schools are quantitative evidence of the academic excellence of the school. The PTO is active. Almost 82% of all money earned goes back to the students in way of teaching material, curriculum enrichment, or materials for the classroom. The constant preparation by teachers to help students after hours to help tutor kids (NON-PAYING Tutorials) are evident all through the year. Again this quantitative evidence of that the cooperative effort of teachers, administration and parents are doing things right at West University Elementary School.
My son has been in West U for K & 1st grade and we have had a great experience at the school. We are glad that we have access to such good education through the public school system. Yes - it is not perfect but it is a good school academically and socially for my child.
Excellent school, great teachers and strong PTO. My son excelled at West U in less than a year. He is almost finished with kindergarten. He started at reading level 6 and now is reading chapter books. His math is 1st grade level and tested well in all subjects in Stanford. His teacher is very responsive and caring. West U is named the 5th best schools (2nd in HISD after TH Rogers) by 2011 Houston Chronicle Best schools in the Houston and vicinity areas. Most grades tested at 99% in almost all subjects. This is one of the best public elementary schools by far. This is the largest elementary in the HISD and there is still a long waiting list every year.
This school is ALL HYPE. Education is poor; PTO is overzealous; The monthly fundraisers are ridiculous; the teachers are superficial and lack passion for teaching. All of the children (including mine... now) are tutored by one of the West U. teachers at the library across the street each day after school. It is incredible to think such an "outstanding school" requires such intense after-school preparation. Paperwork and email OVERLOAD. I am flooded day after day with either emails from the class mom's re: a fundraiser or paperwork in my child's folder re: anything other than her education. My child literally comes home with a folder FULL of paper each week; which, has nothing to do with her education. A huge portion of fundraising must go towards thousands and thousands of pieces of colored paper AND COPY MACHINES. Oh my... Frankly, the teachers are all very young and pretentious and there is a very high turn-over rate. Not to mention, the front office staff is incredibly rude. The school is beautiful but your child's education is not a priority.
I am not sure how anyone got the impression that there is no homework in K. My child has had plenty of homework in K. He has also had to complete projects and prepare for oral book reports to the class complete with tri-board. I've been very happy with the teachers. I have two children. The other child is in 2nd grade. The PTO is very active and the facilities are great.
My daughter went to kindergarten there after coming from Galena Park ISD. I thought I was sending her to a better school. Yes the actiities are good there, but was not happy with how her education developed. I feel she learned more from her PreK school at GPISD. Her teacher did not giver her homework. i strongle believe she could have been better challenged. The parents didn't mind of course I spoke to some and some preferred no homework so that they did not have spend time on that after work. Sigh! I think their Gifted tests are a joke. In one year she was required to take two. You don't need a test to check if your child is gifted. You know it by having an extremely smart child. Their gifted child tested just proves that some kids are a bit more mature than others. Glad I left.
WUE is a very good public school with mostly devoted and outstanding teachers who are limited by the emphasis on test scores and standardized curricula. The library is outstanding. Instruction in the music and art 'ancillary periods' is poor. There are very limited enrichment activities during and after school. There is a small invitation only track team and a newsletter club. The PTO runs a math club and a 'Name that Book' club. Foreign Language, Robotics, and Science after-school programs are run by private companies and are costly. The school is safe and has high standards for discipline. There is a very active PTO and a high level of parent involvement. Teachers are very accessable - the administration is less accessable.
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