Laboratory Charter School
Can anyone give me any feedback on Laboratory Charter School? School Culture, Curriculum, Teacher student ratio, etc. Also, interested in how they deal with kids with, special needs (autism, aspergers, adhd, etc.)
Any feedback welcome!
I can't really give you any direct advice. I have been trying to find out information about them myself. I called the school directly and the receptionist didn't really have much to say. She gave me a number to call that was just a voicemail. I left a message weeks ago and have not heard back. Their website is under construction.
Not a good first impression. Let me know if you learn anything.
This is purely anecdotal, so take it for what it's worth---but when I was considering schools a couple years ago, I had 2 friends who toured Lab Charter and considered it. This information comes from them.
First, it is VERY difficult to actually speak to a live person, get information about the application, and take a tour. Both of my friends made numerous calls and were told that their name was "on a list" and would be contacted to receive the application and given a tour. After many months and repeated phone calls, neither of these individuals had heard, so they both marched up to the school and demanded an application and tour time.
Both found the school to be very regimented. To say that the focus was purely on academics and discipline was an understatement. Recess, arts, music were almost non-existent. Everything was geared to academics and test preparation. Student behavior is very strictly enforced. The school was very up front about its philosophy and said that they expected the parents to go along with that program. I don't think either of my friends actually ended up applying.
On the other hand, their test scores are phenomenal. I don't believe that test scores are the ultimate or most important measure of a school, however. And, I think their non-responsive approach to applicants and tours is a meant to weed out those parents who really aren't interested or committed.
The school is not my cup of tea, but for some kids stuck in horrible public schools, in violence-infested neighborhoods, it could be very appealing. Lower or working class parents who want to instill discipline and academics, and try to prepare their children to perhaps test into one of the magnet middle or high schools, seem to be the target audience of this school.
This affirms what I know. Also- those test scores? They screen the students.
Wow, thanks Fifi. That explained a lot.
I worked with a woman who sent two children to the Lab Charter. Both were very bright and were doing well in the public school they previously attended on a deseg transfer. The mom told me, very proudly, that they spent a minimum of two hours daily on test practice. When I expressed concern that some academic time was being lost to test prep, she said that it really wasn't because there was no recess, music, or art. I would seriously question whether a place like that is a good fit for kids with the kind of special needs the OP mentioned.
On the old Philly Blog, another parent posted about difficulties getting a tour and an application at the Lab Charter. Obviously they are filling their rolls with somebody's kids! Makes me wonder if they decide ahead of time who gets an application as a way of skewing the lottery pool. I don't want to paint all charters with a broad brush but there clearly are ways to stock your applicant pool with more desirable applicants.
When I did research years ago of schools everything to me said this school was a boot camp in order to score well on the PSSA and not really that interested in educating a child or making a well rounded learning experience.
I just reread FiFi's post. I agree that Lab Charter wants to weed out parents who are not really committed (really, who can blame them?) but I also think they want to weed out parents who may be very committed to education but ask too many questions. The posters who ask about this place are clearly committed to education but they must give out a vibe that they will not take everything the school says or does like gospel.
All of this mirrors our experience about 6 years ago - the "list," the unreturned calls, the secretiveness, the lack of communication. Frankly, I found myself thanking our good fortune that we were ignored, because I'm highly suspicious of the place at this point.
And BTW they had a semi-functional website back then, with some content, though it never changed. Now they have no website.
I think you can do better.
thank you for the feedback. I too found that the receptionist or those that answered the phone were not too pleasant and did not have too much information. When I called back second time wasnt' very forthcoming or they passed you to another number.
Fortunately, I did find some students and parents that went to the school, this is what they relayed to me. Please note, this is information that was told to me by past students and parents..may not be the opinions of others.
it is better if you get your child in an earlier grade so they will "fit" the culture and be able to adapt easily.
If you are coming from another school, more than likely your child will have to go to summer school and possibly be retained (left back a grade). They want the kids to know the "Lab" way. So if your kid just passed 4th grade and coming to the Lab...be prepared that they might do 4th grade again.
If you have a child with "special needs" or needs more hands on-individual learning, this may not be the school for them...every kid has to be on the same level at the same time, they will not cater to individuality. So from what I understood if they are learning Fractions and Jenny doesn't understand Fractions...Jenny better get to know Fraction cause they are not waiting on her.
No or little extra-curricular activities and no recess. "While I am glad that they stress academics, i do believe kids need a break during the day."
Some kids had to leave because they got stressed out. Some developed ulcers.
This school is very intense.....hours of homework every night and when tests are upcoming they have to attend on Saturdays. You must also sit down with your kids from the start of HW to the end...you can't fix dinner or do something else while HW is going on.
parents said that they had to give up extra-curricular activities outside of school for the kids, i.e. dance, music, etc.
Thank you for everyones opinions...if you hear of more, please let us know!!! Again, this is what was told to me, may not be opinion of anyone else.
Last edited by SouthPhillyLady; 02-10-2010 at 10:10 AM.
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