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Old 08-21-2010, 04:36 AM
 
2,439 posts, read 5,706,749 times
Reputation: 896
"If the point is that people have a natural tendency to defend their own decisions, there's no difference between what one parent has to say about a neighborhood public school and what another parent has to say about a private school."

Very true. The best perspective, of course, will come from parents who have tried various schooling options in a given community, but those folks are few and far between.
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Old 08-21-2010, 06:11 AM
 
1,219 posts, read 1,225,017 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by claremarie View Post
"If the point is that people have a natural tendency to defend their own decisions, there's no difference between what one parent has to say about a neighborhood public school and what another parent has to say about a private school."

Very true. The best perspective, of course, will come from parents who have tried various schooling options in a given community, but those folks are few and far between.
Plus a lot depends on how objective those recommendations are. I know several friends who wanted to buy in the Langley/McLean school district and after they realized they couldn't afford it, they immediately switched to "the Reston school district is much better".

Thanks,
K
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Old 08-21-2010, 09:52 AM
 
2,594 posts, read 2,042,670 times
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Test scores don't tell the whole story, but they do tell A story. A school with a high low-income population and/or high ESOL population will tend to have lower test scores and vice versa. Since our current system holds teachers accountable only for making sure that everyone reaches a set standard, and not for making sure anyone exceeds it, students who are behind will tend to drain a teacher's time and resources and take attention away from more proficient students. So in other words, if your child is doing just fine in reading because you have read to them all their lives, the teacher will spend a very small amount of time on reading instruction with your child because she must spend as much as possible with students who can't read at all because their parents never read to them before they came to school.

State curriculum guidelines are meant to be a minimum standard - they do not prevent the teaching of more advanced material if students are ready for it. What that mean is, if every student in the class can add and subtract numbers less than ten, the teacher will move on to, say, multiplication. If your child is the only one who can add and subtract numbers less than ten, and the rest of the class is still struggling with that basic skill, then the teacher will not move on and will concentrate on the minimum standards. That does not mean he or she is a bad teacher - that is simply what teachers must do.

Contrary to popular politics, test scores are not so much influenced by teachers as they are by parents' educational levels and income level. In a low-income school, many of the students will never have seen a book prior to entering kindergarten (a book in ANY language). They may have had limited interaction with adults and have very limited vocabulary. They will not have been to the zoo, a park, a museum, a nature center, etc. They won't know much about the world. They may not have enough to eat at home, may not have a steady home at all, may have parents who are on drugs. Imagine the skill level of this child in kindergarten compared to the child from a middle class, educated family, who has, by the age of 5, been to every museum within driving distance, been read to since the age of 3 months, been to play dates, park classes, preschool, etc. The second child shows up for kindergarten already knowing most of the basic kindergarten curriculum. The first struggles even to listen to a story and understand it and has never seen a letter, much less a book. Now the teacher is accountable for somehow getting that first student up to the level that the second student began at - a near impossibility - but not responsible for teaching the second student more. You can imagine the impact of that in the classroom.

So this is why I would say that a low-income, high-esl school is not desirable. It may have great teachers and the same basic curriculum, but a student from an educated, middle-class background is going to get the short end of the stick at that school. And this is what you will see in test scores - low test scores nearly always mean high low-income populations. You can also look at the school's demographics, posted on the fcps website alongside the test scores, to see the percentages of students from different types of backgrounds.

I know there are parents out there who feel the merits of economic diversity outweigh the academic disadvantages, and in some cases they are right. It really depends on the child. But hopefully this will help the parents make a decision based on their own preferences.
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Old 08-22-2010, 03:22 PM
 
3,166 posts, read 3,990,201 times
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In general the highest performing schools are in the richest areas, Mclean, Great Falls, Vienna, and Oakton. Smart kids in=smart kids out. But you may have to give up racial diversity, unless you include Asians as part of your diversity.
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Old 08-22-2010, 03:26 PM
 
3,166 posts, read 3,990,201 times
Reputation: 1224
Quote:
Originally Posted by marie5v View Post
Test scores don't tell the whole story, but they do tell A story. A school with a high low-income population and/or high ESOL population will tend to have lower test scores and vice versa. Since our current system holds teachers accountable only for making sure that everyone reaches a set standard, and not for making sure anyone exceeds it, students who are behind will tend to drain a teacher's time and resources and take attention away from more proficient students. So in other words, if your child is doing just fine in reading because you have read to them all their lives, the teacher will spend a very small amount of time on reading instruction with your child because she must spend as much as possible with students who can't read at all because their parents never read to them before they came to school.

State curriculum guidelines are meant to be a minimum standard - they do not prevent the teaching of more advanced material if students are ready for it. What that mean is, if every student in the class can add and subtract numbers less than ten, the teacher will move on to, say, multiplication. If your child is the only one who can add and subtract numbers less than ten, and the rest of the class is still struggling with that basic skill, then the teacher will not move on and will concentrate on the minimum standards. That does not mean he or she is a bad teacher - that is simply what teachers must do.

Contrary to popular politics, test scores are not so much influenced by teachers as they are by parents' educational levels and income level. In a low-income school, many of the students will never have seen a book prior to entering kindergarten (a book in ANY language). They may have had limited interaction with adults and have very limited vocabulary. They will not have been to the zoo, a park, a museum, a nature center, etc. They won't know much about the world. They may not have enough to eat at home, may not have a steady home at all, may have parents who are on drugs. Imagine the skill level of this child in kindergarten compared to the child from a middle class, educated family, who has, by the age of 5, been to every museum within driving distance, been read to since the age of 3 months, been to play dates, park classes, preschool, etc. The second child shows up for kindergarten already knowing most of the basic kindergarten curriculum. The first struggles even to listen to a story and understand it and has never seen a letter, much less a book. Now the teacher is accountable for somehow getting that first student up to the level that the second student began at - a near impossibility - but not responsible for teaching the second student more. You can imagine the impact of that in the classroom.

So this is why I would say that a low-income, high-esl school is not desirable. It may have great teachers and the same basic curriculum, but a student from an educated, middle-class background is going to get the short end of the stick at that school. And this is what you will see in test scores - low test scores nearly always mean high low-income populations. You can also look at the school's demographics, posted on the fcps website alongside the test scores, to see the percentages of students from different types of backgrounds.

I know there are parents out there who feel the merits of economic diversity outweigh the academic disadvantages, and in some cases they are right. It really depends on the child. But hopefully this will help the parents make a decision based on their own preferences.
Great post!

In FCPS is it VERY important to raise minority scores and close the racial gap. Race is exceedingly important to FCPS administration. The fastest way to close the racial gap is to bring up the bottom while holding down the top. To that end, there is no reason to teach anything to the top kids. The last thing they want is for those kids to get even smarter, with even higher test scores. Ignore the top and teach to the bottom, that will accomplish their political agenda more quickly than anything else.
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Old 08-22-2010, 03:28 PM
 
3,166 posts, read 3,990,201 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kutra11 View Post
Plus a lot depends on how objective those recommendations are. I know several friends who wanted to buy in the Langley/McLean school district and after they realized they couldn't afford it, they immediately switched to "the Reston school district is much better".

Thanks,
K
Hahaha, that is SOOO true. No one EVER admits that they send to their child to a school that is less that wonderful. What parent sends their child to an inferior school? None! Zero! It would be a bad parent who sent their child to a less than wonderful school!
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Old 08-22-2010, 03:34 PM
 
106 posts, read 17,477 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Denton56 View Post
In general the highest performing schools are in the richest areas, Mclean, Great Falls, Vienna, and Oakton. Smart kids in=smart kids out. But you may have to give up racial diversity, unless you include Asians as part of your diversity.
Asians are obviously a minority group, but not one that's considered underrepresented in higher education. This is why they don't get the benefits of affirmative action.

In some instances, there are quotas to restrict the representation of asians.
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Old 08-22-2010, 03:56 PM
 
Location: Expatriate Philadelphian in Northern Virginia
7,659 posts, read 11,062,786 times
Reputation: 2160
Quote:
Originally Posted by Denton56 View Post
Hahaha, that is SOOO true. No one EVER admits that they send to their child to a school that is less that wonderful. What parent sends their child to an inferior school? None! Zero! It would be a bad parent who sent their child to a less than wonderful school!
In such a generally expensive area as NOVA, there are obviously some parents who will not be able to send their children to what are considered the top-performing school pyramids if the housing costs are too prohibitive. I trust that they would enroll their kids in the best area that they could afford. Perhaps there are some parents, as suggested earlier, who might rationalize their decision to themselves and others, but even the "less than wonderful" schools may turn out to be better than where they came from.
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Old 08-22-2010, 03:57 PM
 
Location: Expatriate Philadelphian in Northern Virginia
7,659 posts, read 11,062,786 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by reeze View Post
Asians are obviously a minority group, but not one that's considered underrepresented in higher education. This is why they don't get the benefits of affirmative action.

In some instances, there are quotas to restrict the representation of asians.
Let's stay focused on education in Fairfax County/NOVA, please.
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