Principal Karen McKenna just does not make the grade. Unless there are changes, avoid this school like the plague. The school's academic, social and community image have declined over the past four years since November 2009. Looking at the school's AYP in 2011, the last year it reported under No Child Left Behind, tells the same same mediocre story that you read in a number of these reviews. Historically, this Principal likes to hold out the high FCPS SOL scores as a mark of her achievement. These indicators for core Math and English curriculum were largely a factor of the highly educated West Springfield parents and the income. However, if you take a look at the income and population shift, you see a decline. Principal Mckenna, we challenge you, as concerned parents, to show some real thought leadership and reach across the aisle to groups that are not like you to find solutions to your school's almost 5 year decline. The message fell on deaf ears almost 5 years ago. -signed, Vindicated
This is an update to my earlier 5/7/13 review: My daughter has not been at Keene Mill for a year. The difference between an competent administration and an excellent administration has made itself apparent over the last year. There is nothing wrong with Cardinal Forest, per say, I think they respond the way any average administration would respond to problems. The only issue there is that FCPS parents tend to not be an average parent population, particularly those who move to this area specifically for the schools. Also- parent comunication and lack of control in the classroom sounds like a problem to me, and is one of the main reasons I did not want my child in a mixed grade class. There are enough issues with a mixed grade class that I wouldn't want to worry about that issue on top of it all. Had anyone called me back at the time, I could've communicated that. I did not ultimately want to swich schools, I don't think that kind of change is good for kids all the time, but now that I've had some time to see what it's like elsewhere, Cardinal Forest is still rating as just an average school with an average administration.
I truly enjoy Cardinal Forest. I have kids at 3 different schools in the Springfield area and this is the best one. The school is bright, the principle very visible and the communication strong. Overall the teachers are better than expected. I have only had 1 teacher do far that I struggled with. Even with that, she was not mean or unreasonable with the children. She seemed to struggle with parent communication and some classroom control. I am part of the 1/2 class mentioned in another review and I am not having any issues. The teachers are strong enough and the kids are moving at or above grade level. I was concerned at first but after giving it a chance I am pleased.
Everything is fine until it isn't. Then you can't get anyone to even call you back. The lack of responsiveness caused us to transfer my daughter to another school. My daughter, an excellent student, was selected for a mixed first/second grade class. I heard great things about the teacher but was still concerned that being with first graders would hold my daughter back. There was a community meeting for parents, and based on what the principal said, there was no comfort given that they even had thought about the issues with this kind of class, much less thought about how to address them. My daughter was singled out because she is an easy student, which is not fair for her. When I called to talk to the principal to express my strong concerns with this situation and ask questions, the secretary said she would call me back. Three phone calls later, still no response. We had to switch her to another school because I was so worried that she would be in a less than optimal situation and I couldn't get anyone responsive at all. Total nightmare.
Our son's second grade teacher is very involved and proactive. She helped identify the areas we needed to work with our son because his Alabama first grade experience was well behind Virginia standards. We find the school administration and staff very professional and pleasant to deal with.
My son is in kindergarten at Cardinal Forest. Our experience has been great so far. The teachers have done well dealing with discipline problems and the curriculum seems challenging and interesting. My only concern with the school is the overcrowding. My son's kindergarten class has 27 children in it. His teacher is very experienced and is making the best of it, but it makes the environment harder.
I have two children and both transferred out. The Principal is terrible to deal with and while they certainly have some quality teaching professionals, others are lacking. This use to be a top school, but it has fallen off as evidenced by them being on the list of Fairfax County Schools not making the grade. This school underperforms!
My son attented kindergarten and had wonderful experiance, what a great staff at cardinal forest
The principal sets the tone for the school. Mrs. Kenna is the best! She is a fantastic principal. Our child's teacher is great!
I had 2 children at Cardinal Forrest (2006-07). One in 6th grade and one in 2nd. It was our first year at the school. As we were coming from abroad I was worried that they might be behind the Fairfax County schools. I home schooled for about a month in the summer to prepare them. My 6th grader regressed in math. It turns out they learned more during the summer than they did all year at school. Thankfully I am able to stay on top of things at home. I feel for the parents that both work full time. My 6th grader graduates out and I have transferred out my 2nd grader. The experience is enough to make me want to home school.
I love the school, my daughter is in 2nd grade(2007-2008). the teachers, and reading buddies have helped my daughter to develope good reading habit.
I love this school. My daughter is currently in 1st grade (2005-06) and so far it's been a great experience. The teachers are fabulous and the academic programs great, both during the regular school day and the before/after-school programs. There's a very active PTA and lots of parent involvement. The school recently hosted Heritage Night to celebrate the many cultures and nationalities represented in our school. They've also hosted events such as Math & Science Night, Partners in Print, Economics Night, Patriotic Night, and more. The SACC program is wonderful. I was very nervous about putting my daughter in a county-run before and after school program, but they really do a great job with it. My daughter loves it and has made some good friendships outside the classroom. The West Springfield community is great too -- very much a small community feel in massive Fairfax County. I'm not going anywhere.
My daughter has been a student at Cardinal Forest for 3 years now. She had many difficulties as she had ADHD and instead of just thinking she was a problem child, they worked with me until we were able to get her the testing that was required to diagnose her and worked really well with me to make sure she progressed in her studies as well as got taken care of for the needs that she had. They even tested her on other levels to make sure we caught everything and that we could move forward with a sucessful academic career. I thank them for all their hard work and effore and I wouldn't change schools for anything unless I move out of the state.
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