My children went to UW Lab School and I couldn't be happier. My son went there from 7th to 9th grade and my daughter from 1st through 9th.
It's a small school with a solid faculty. Both of our children benefited from a terrific environment.
I went to this school from preschool through middle school. It started off well, and especially the 4/5 grade program with Joanie James was stellar. However, as it progressed, there was a serious lack of authority from the administration as well as a curriculum that left me behind my peers when I got to the high school. Especially with math and science, this school doesn't have the capabilities to provide for its students. It tries hard but overall this school did not prepare me. They don't allow for much segmentation of classes by skill level, which meant I was often with students who worked much slower tun me or took longer to learn things. I would have been at a much greater advantage had I gone to the junior high. This school is great for students who have trouble learning or are on an IEP, but I wouldn't recommend it for advanced students. I was bored most of the time.
I have multiple children in this school. One child has spent years in one on one reading instruction but the caring teachers at lab realized that he wasn't progressing and moved him to a regular reading group and his reading has improved, as well as his attitude to learning. My daughter is allowed to learn at her own pace, while she is ready to move to a higher, larger math group she has serious math anxiety and so her teacher is allowing her to stay in her smaller group until her confidence matches her skills.. My other daughter is ahead in math and, instead of only working with her age group, is allowed to work with a higher group of kids which keeps her interested and moving forward. The children get frequent opportunities to learn in real and meaningful ways, and to take advantage of the opportunities at the university, including museums, performances, and specialists. I love this school more and more each year!!
This school is project-based, which helps promote learning both together and from others. The teachings are great- I learned all about the federal court and how federal trials are run in less than two weeks by creating a trial simulation. This was great hands-on learning and helped me learn everything and more than a text book would have taught me.
Our daughter attended Prep, but we pulled her out. The curriculum was incoherent, there was no order in the school, and the teachers were frequently annoyed by our questions. ("What do you mean you don't have a grading system? How exactly did you give grades??") As one reviewer said, the teachers were given the freedom to innovate, but their experiments frequently failed, and did so on my child's time. The program design on the school was an incoherent pseudo-intellectual hodge-podge. I suspect that the only reason the school still exists is for the convenience of UW faculty.
The UW Lab School (or 'Prep' as it is known locally) is the only school in the Albany County School District that I would care to have my son (8 years old) attend. Small class sizes, outstanding teachers, and peer support are important features of the Lab School. As well, students learn in an open environment, sitting at tables and moving daily through a range of teacher specialists from Kindergarten on as opposed to being trapped at individual desks in a giant classroom, learning primarily from a single teacher. Post No Child Left Behind, the teachers also have more freedom to innovate and draw upon individual strengths than the other schools in the district who seem anecdotally to be more focused on test scores than analytical thinking as student goals. Plus, the Principal played an Oompaloompa in the last Middle School production of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory!
This is the most amazing school. It is the most wonderful learning environment for my children. Teachers are great and Principal actually has interest in the kids and helps wherever she can. You and your kids become part of this wonderful community that is so encouraged at the Lab School.