REALM Charter SchoolCommunity Subscriber
My daughter attends REALM Charter School and will be in 7th grade next year. She did do well in the West Contra Costa USD and is now an A and B student. I have been pleased with the academic program and school culture. Realm has two sites--one is the 6-8 Middle School and the other is the 9-12 High School. The focus is college prep and project based learning. Realm is the only public charter school in Berkeley and serves students from Alameda and Contra Costa Counties. Students come from as far as Pittsburg to attend and the student body is very diverse. I highly recommend this school, but I am not unbiased. I also teach Special Education at REALM High School.
Archived Q&A and Reviews
Willard vs Realm Middle School
I'm deciding between Willard and Realm Charter Middle School for my child. Can a current
parent at either school comment on their child's school: what you like, dislike, how the
academics are (too little, too much, or enough work), how the social situation is, how the
administration is, etc...
I initially liked Realm, but have been concerned by a lack of response to calls, and wonder if
there's enough staff at the school. Ideally, I'd like to hear an insider perspective about
Willard and Realm (the good, the bad and the ugly) to help me make a decision. Thanks in
If your child is advanced academically, I don’t recommend that you send them to
REALM. I pulled my child out of REALM after a year and a half because he was so
bored. Socially it was difficult because he did not speak Spanish. He is much
happier at Willard, which isn't perfect for us either.
REALM for 9th grader at Berkeley High School?
I'm looking for recent reviews of REALM high school as a potential alternative for my high-achieving, very social 9th grader. She's at BHS and finds the classes out of control and chaotic, with the kids not showing respect and not able to be quiet in class. She loves the social scene in between classes, lunch, etc., but says the actual classes are disrupted constantly while the teachers struggle to keep control. I only see one review of REALM, and the website does not state how many kids attend the school. Also, the application form online only lists 6th and 9th grades as options. Can students not transfer in during the year, or join any grades other than 6th or 9th??? Please share experiences if your high schooler goes there. Is the school big enough to find a social niche? Thanks. BHS mom
Hi BHS Mom, REALM charter is very small, and is really designed for students who are not excelling in school. It was founded as a way to decrease the number of students who end up at B Tech which is the alternative high school for students who are failing. It provides a creative and alternative learning experience for students who do not excel in regular schools. It is an amazing program, but very small. They are are slowly building and as a charter serve the entire county. Your daughter will have very few choices of classes there.
9th grade tends to be as you describe it for a lot of students. Things generally settle down and improve. For most students at BHS, one of the best things to do is find a ''niche'' like the newspaper, dance, music, art, sports, where there are other students who share your daughter's interests.
REALM offers tours, I would certainly suggest one before you consider trying any sort of transfer. former BHS Mom
From what I see from going to the school and walking in the hallway when I go to pick
up my son or talk to a teacher is that the classes are small enough (20-25 sometimes
more like 15) that the teachers can control the classes. At least the classes did not
seem chaotic to me. My son has complained in the past when he's been in a class that is
disruptive and he has no complaints so far (9th grader). The school is small enough
that the teachers, principal and director can get to know everyone. The teachers are
generally young an passionate and can relate to the kids well so the kids look up to
them. My son thinks his teachers are really cool. My son, who is very shy, a total
introvert and is loathe to talk to teachers, has found a group of friends there. He has
also felt comfortable enough to reach out to teachers and talk to them about school
work and other things.
Last year we took our nephew to REALM for a shadow day because we were looking for a
school for him. We talked to the director Victor Diaz about the school and after about
10 minutes talking to our nephew he said ''I know who would be a good person for you to
shadow'', he jumped out of his chair and called to a boy walking past - sure enough, he
read my nephew right and he and the boy hit it right off and became best friends.
I suggest you set up a day for your daughter to shadow a student there so she can get a
feel for what the school is like. Probably sooner rather than later as applications to
schools start soon.
Looking at Realm for 6th grader
I am looking at Realm Charter in Berkeley for 6th grade next fall, 2014. Can a current family provide a review of the school (good or bad). Many thanks. Carolyn
There are many great things that I love about Realm and some things I worry about.
Realm is a supportive place, particularly for sixth grade. For students on a 504 plan the accomodations are wonderful. The teachers really care about the kids and there are kids from all over Berkeley, Oakland, Alameda and San Leandro. There are services to support learning and there is an expectation that students will conduct project based work at school and think about it at home.
All of that said, I worry about Realm's grading system. My own daughter who has NEVER scored at a position of Basic on any standardized tests is being given nearly straight A s on her report card. While I understand their philosophy of gearing grades to effort, zone of proximal development and IQ/IEP/504/Learning Ability, my daughter has an inflated sense of her ability. For example, she believes that her math and writing are at grade level standards. When I look at my niece's third grade writing, the grammar, sentence structure and word choice is far more sophisticated. The same with math - my daughter earned an A in math but if you look at the state standards for mathematics she simply cannot complete half of the tasks (fractions to decimals to percent and calculating using ratios).
However, for the first time my daughter feels like she is succeeding and she likes going to school. For a middle schooler that is impressive. My daughter stays for help after school and that is available without charge, which is a great thing. Just as in any other school, some girls are snotty and for the most part the marjority are nice kids. Catherine, Mom of A