Westlake Academy is an outstanding school with caring and committed educators. The most impressive aspect of the school is the IB continuum whole school approach. These outstanding educators are all qualified and deeply dedicated to 21st century educational ideals and concepts. The model is so transformative and innovative in its approach, Westlake Academy may just be the most progressive school in Texas. But, don't believe everything you read on the Internet. Come find out firsthand the wonderful things going on at Westlake Academy.
There are many comments regarding WA not teaching to the test, but that has changed. It was once true, with reviews and a sample test before the real thing so that students understood the testing format and weren't surprised. But in the past year changes have been implemented that focus on testing benchmarks, teaching children as young as second grade to find their errors and statistically analyze their weaknesses on benchmarks drawn directly from STAAR materials and textbook series (which echoes what is taught for the STAAR tests), without regard for IB curriculum requirements. Yes, there are expected learning outcomes from IB that should be taught alongside the Texas requirements. No, they haven't been getting the attention they are supposed to. If your testing outcome, measurement of progress provided to students, and primary data source for them is basically a version of "the test" then you are teaching to the test. Assessment is used to drive instruction, and those STAAR-based tests are what's driving instruction, below the DP level. DP has been able to maintain its integrity as it has the IB testing as its accountability.
As long as there are seasoned IB teachers who understand the intricacies of requirements and the importance of the learner profile, there are children who will get the benefits of IB (and those are HUGE). But they are not understood and in many instances not embraced by new staff and new administration. What has made the school and its students stand apart over the years, and shows in the success of its graduating classes, is changing quickly. If you want high test scores, there are easier, more proven roads to take.
My kids have significant holes in their knowledge when compared to their peers (objective, external testing) even though their grades are high. We have to retain tutoring services for them to make up the gaps, as do most of our friends. The softer side of IB has, until last year, made it worth it. But over and over, parents ask each other, what's happening up there? It's changed. It's not IB. Why are the experienced teachers leaving? Why are they pulling their kids too? All good questions.
As you can see by the varied comments on this site, parents either love or hate the school. I do not feel that my children are getting the tools they need to be successful later in life.
There are not a lot of choices for students in this school. The math and science departments are, in my opinion, lacking. If your student has an affinity for STEM then I would not recommend this school.
I am also disappointed with the limited options for fine arts. They have a very good art program but after primary school the options for music are very limited. There is no option for band or drama.
There is also a need for an improved technology department. The administration has tried, unsuccessfully, to incorporate technology into the classrooms. I'm sorry, but jut giving a student an iPad does not mean you are teaching technology. They have one design teacher but she is out more than in the classroom.
Overall, I believe that my children will get a better education at the public school. The ISDs offer a wide range of programs including AP classes in many subjects. The ISDs also have a wonderful STEM program and a diverse fine arts program.
Finally, this school is geared to assisting wealthy, helicopter parents. The squeaky wheel, that has money, gets what they want. That may or may not be what is best for all students. As you can see by one of the reviews, their belief is that this is not the place for "low-level students". That seems to be the current philosophy of the administration. I understand that it was not always this way. Having read the IBO statements it is not their way either. I want my children to be exposed to all sorts of people, not just the ones people consider acceptable.
Please think carefully before you choose Westlake Academy.
Tough curriculum. Strong teachers. High expectations. Probably not the right school for average to low-level students. Definitely not the right fit if your child needs a lot of external motivation. Great school for internally motivated, hardworking students who are competitive, high achievers.
Let’s be honest. Change comes hard to those who find it unwelcome. But, sometimes change, albeit difficult, is very necessary. Such is the case with Westlake Academy. Current administration has come in and made some necessary changes in order for this exceptional school to continue to grow and flourish in the years to come. Unlike most of the posters found here, I know each of the administrators at Westlake personally and I can say, without fear of contradiction, that each of them are people of character, commitment, experience and each with an abiding passion for educating kids. What about the negative posts found here? Where there’s smoke, isn’t there fire? Well, no. Intelligent people can clearly see through the miasma of hyperbole, half-truths and innuendo to see an underlying agenda, perpetrated by a vocal minority. And, by the way, “ISD” isn’t a dirty word. Just because a teacher, or administrator, comes most recently from an ISD does not negate the depth of their IB experience or what they bring to the table at Westlake Academy. Still, there are those that would prefer to believe, or perpetuate, gossip than face the truth that the change happening at Westlake Academy is good, very good. So, to those of you that have found it easier to repeat rumors than discover the truth for yourselves, shame on you. To those of you that believe in Westlake Academy, as I do, let’s hear your thoughts on this board. And, for those of you truly seeking impartial information on Westlake, forget the community rating and look at the fact that this site puts a Great Schools rating on Westlake Academy of 9 out of 10. There’s a reason for that. The bottom line is very simple. Don’t be fooled by what you read on the Internet (including this post). Find out for yourself.
Those who have IB training have mostly been great. Unfortunately, in the past years many have been fired or quit, that we are left with ISD teachers who have no IB training and no veteran teachers to mentor them. The Head of school continues to replace IB teachers with teachers who have never even been to 1 IB training.