(American Canyon, CA)
CAVA Visitor Review:
I am the mother of an 8-year-old girl and a 7-year-old boy. Both my children have only attended CAVA since they started school. CAVA WAS good when I started with my daughter. Both of my children have only been in CAVA for their school life. Unfortunately, the administrators that make decisions are turning CAVA into another bureaucratic school that only cares about standardized testing and every year they add new requirements that make very little sense. They burden the students with non-educational test taking practices that takes up too much of their time and eats into precious hours that should be spent on learning and other fun activities.
I have been with CAVA for 4 years now and I’ve decided that this will be my last year. When they made my young son (first grader) sit down to take some ridiculous math placement change assessment that was extremely long it became apparent to me that the administrators have lost track of what they are trying to accomplish and seem only concerned about testing. This was the first time in 4 years that we had to do this placement change assessment for math. I believe that this is because CAVA administrators have no clue about real education. Kids end up hating school with these types of requirements and restrictive practices. I suggest that the people that administer these checks and balances sit in the classroom for a month with diverse learning coaches to understand what can actually be accomplished with students that are of different ages, personalities, gender, ethnicity, etc.
Cava offers many outings; however, the workload is so great that they can never take a day off to go to these outings. When I started CAVA 4 years ago, CAVA used the “K-12” curricula in their courses and it was a great and flexible curricula. The next year they started adding mandatory “standardized testing” elements to the school. This is called “study Island” and one would think that this name should evoke an idea of fun activity for students. But it not the case. Children do not have to test until 3rd grade so why do they need to start practicing in kindergarten? Each year they add new practice tests for the children to do such as I-ready, Scantron, smarter balance assessment, etc. My son’s books are 3 times the size of the original books that I used in first grade for my first child. Administrators seem to believe that adding more information or “information cramming” makes better students.
The first year we joined CAVA my children were required to turn in one sample for each subject every quarter. Four years later they are now required to submit mandatory teacher samples every quarter. My third grader has to submit a 20 page Word document that is extremely long and tedious and the time allotted for this type of work is three hours. This assignment takes her at least 6 hours. In addition, many “Writing skills” 35-minute time allotments are insufficient for some writing assignments.
My advice to CAVA/k-12 is that “less is more” and kids need to love to learn and not just cram information in their brains, as they will not become lifetime learners this way. More and more material is just a recipe for student burnout. Unfortunately CAVA may lose more long-time families if this trend continues.
I would not recommend CAVA as it stands currently and the direction that this is headed. If parents wish to give their child a healthy homeschooling experience, they might want to consider other options. CAVA is now simply another public school with the same restrictions and requirements with the only difference being that the kids are at home when they study. Other than that, they are being subjected to standardized testing and programs that lowers their interest and intellect. Asking my kids over and over questions that they have clearly mastered only to satisfy some administrative need is beyond ridiculous. If you want your child to learn how to take standardized tests and cram information in their brains then any school will do, including CAVA. I am not even sure if I can opt out of these ridiculous tests. Why should they be mandatory? I am exercising my right as a parent to do what I must to remove my children from this type of an educational system that focuses on testing rather than learning. That said, I would warn any parent to consider that CAVA is not homeschooling. It is posing as a homeschooling program while shoving material down that is pointless and does not add any value to my kids’ education.