AC at Berkeley High - pros & cons

I have a 9th grader at Berkeley High. We're considering AC for next school year. If you have recent experience with Academic Choice, could you please share which classes and/or teachers are particularly good? Any potential problems to look out for? If your student wished they had chosen BIHS instead of AC, please share why. Thanks!

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I have two AC kids, one who graduated in 2022 and a current junior. No regrets. Neither of them have ever felt like IB would have been better. In AC, you get more electives, the teachers on the whole are good, and in general, it's a pretty solid small school. My only con is how they dealt with the small school graduation in 2022 - it was non-existent for AC and they didn't even order graduation stoles. It was a MASSIVE oversight on their part and they issued no apologies. So while I don't really love the AC leadership, I do think the small school has been good for my kids. If your student puts AC first and IB second, there is still a good chance they will get IB. My kids put IB third. AC is the most popular choice and not a guarantee. 

My child has very much enjoyed and thrived in AC for the past 2.5 years. They came from a small, rigorous middle school, and 9th grade happened online during the pandemic. Initially I had some concerns about the social dynamics and the academics, but in both cases the concerns were unfounded. 1) social dynamics -- the AC community is diverse, vibrant and amazing. And yes, there are some students who aren't very engaged (sadly), but they aren't disruptive. The teachers seems to be good at classroom management. Even though AC is big, my student has had the same classmates in multiple courses, so they have made many friends just through classes. This might be in part because they have taken a lot of APs, and the same students are taking those. There's also quite a bit of group work, which facilitates engagement among students. 2) academics -- Like most schools, there are some amazing teachers in AC and some just okay ones. No one has been terrible. It's been good for my student to navigate this and figure out how to learn the material when the teacher is mediocre. Most courses have office hours with a teacher and some courses have a teaching assistant that student can get extra help from. Generally the workload is very manageable and homework pretty limited, but they must be learning the material somehow, because they got 4s and 5s on all their AP exams last year. AC has the most flexibility in electives among the small schools -- meaning they have the most choices, but in terms of open periods, they'll likely only have 1 extra compared to the other small schools. For example, my student has taken the basic load of math, English, social science, science and language every year, so they've only had 1 slot for an elective plus zero period music and 7th period lab. Every year, they struggled with picking their one elective, because there were so many interesting ones to choose from. Trust that your student will learn and thrive no matter what small school they end up in as long as they embrace what's being offered and seek support when they need it. Good luck to them!

I have one kid in AC (10th grade) and one who graduated from BIHS two years ago. They are both good programs, but the IB program is more rigid - you are forced to take certain classes and have fewer electives. My kid who graduated from BIHS actually advised his younger sibling to go for AC for that reason. But you can have equally challenging classes in AC as well, and, as far as I can tell, there is just as much work. Teachers are mostly a matter of luck. Some are great, some less so, in both programs. I would suggest looking at the BIHS requirements to see if those are classes that your kid would want to take, and also if there's a particular reason they would want an IB diploma. Otherwise, AC is probably a better choice. I guess the other consideration is whether their friends are planning to go to BIHS or AC, which might also make a difference.