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Old 02-11-2014, 04:01 AM
 
Location: Armonk NY
425 posts, read 950,744 times
Reputation: 110

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Quote:
Originally Posted by MrPleasantville View Post
The Pville school are a top notch program. Most of the schools in Westchester are excellent by any standards. Pleasantville housing stock is limited due to demand and size of the village. You can get Pville schools in certain areas of Mt Pleasant as well.

Westlake schools are on par with a Bryam Hills, so you may want to extend your search to include Armonk as well.
Bryam Hills (Armonk) average SAT score is over 1800. Pleasantville 1600s. Pleasantville is second tier at best, maybe third tier.

The following school districts are superior to Pleasantville: Chappaqua, Byram Hills, Edgmont, Scarsdale, Rye, Bronxville, Irvington, Ardsley, Briarcliff, Fox Lane, North Salem, Rye brook, Blind Brook, Hastings, Mamaroneck, Katonah Lewisboro and Croton Harmon. I am probably missing a few.

Its on par with Yorktown, Somers, Eastchester, Harrison, Dobbs and closer to white plains and New Rochelle than the top districts.

There are also no school buses in Pleasantville. The best part of Pleasantville is the portion that is serviced by the Byram Hills School District. This is a very desireable area and we have friends who live there. Because its Pleasantvile, real estate is cheaper than Armonk but you get Armonk schools but its pricier than a home in the Pleasantville school district.

As for the village of Pleasantville, its nothing to write home about -- aside from the little stretch from 117 into the village. Its congested, disjointed, industrial, warehouses, car dealerships, and gas stations. Very similar to Thornwood,Hawthorne and Valhalla....its sister towns in Mount Pleasant that were built on the train line long ago.

Not to mention this:

In recent years the Village of Pleasantville has experienced some heavy critique of its local Police Department. In 2008 former Detective Sergeant Stephen Bonura created a media firestorm after he was fired by the Chief of Police following Bonura's outing of a confidential informant and stating deliberately misleading and false information to an internal affairs investigator. At that time Bonura, along with the support of other officers, claimed that these actions did not warrant his discharge because the department's staff was ill-run by the Village. That same year Pleasantville resident Kian Daniel Khatibi was released from prison after it was alleged that Village detectives had framed him in 1998. In October 2010 an unarmed Danroy Henry Jr. was killed in a melee after Pleasantville Police responded to a report of a disturbance at a local gathering. Following the Henry shooting, Chief of Police Anthony Chiarlitti, whose tenure oversaw all of these incidents quietly retired from the force. Recently the Village has also looked into eliminating its small police department in favor of either a merger with neighboring Mt. Pleasant police or a takeover by Westchester County Police.

And of course ...the recently promoted police chief was just busted for kiddie porn. Nice Job!!!

Yes, Pleasantville really sounds like a top notch place huh!!!!!!lol

Last edited by john70; 02-11-2014 at 04:56 AM..
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Old 02-11-2014, 06:47 AM
 
Location: Yorktown Heights NY
1,316 posts, read 4,555,553 times
Reputation: 426
When it comes to rating schools, there are a variety of measurements one can use. By far the least meaningful is SAT scores. Schools don't teach what's on the SAT so it isn't telling you anything at all about the efficacy of the school's instruction. The scores are telling you something about the population (how many parents paid for test prep courses, how many kids were motivated to cram for the tests) but not about school quality. Ratings based on state test scores are a lot more meaningful since those tests measure how well the students have mastered the state standards upon which the schools' curriculum is based--so they are a measure of the efficacy of the instruction. That said, you don't want a school that bases it's instructional plan on teaching the test, as opposed to focussing on really mastering the standards, so you want to be wary of the top performers. The most important measures are harder to determine: how much differentiated instruction is there so that below level and beyond level students can work at their own rate; how deeply are the teachers engaging students in the content, rather than skimming the surface facts and figures: how much room does the administration give teachers to put their own spin on instruction to meet the needs of their class: and so on. These are things that you need to go observe a school and talk to parents to get a sense of. Also, many districts have excellent high schools but poor primary and elementary schools and tepid middle schools. or vice versa--the idea that an entire district is across the board better than another one is a fallacy. Principals have a huge impact on school quality, but superintendents' impact on instruction in each school in a district is often negligible. You need to look at the different levels.

John70's ratings are, IMO, absurd. Some schools he has deemed as top tier I wouldn't dream of sending my kid to, while one that he puts in the lower tier (Yorktown Central School District, which covers a little over half of Yorktown) I know to be excellent. My advice is to look at the ratings based on test scores, talk to parents, and go visit the schools and talk to the administrators.
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Old 02-11-2014, 07:29 AM
 
2,328 posts, read 5,042,731 times
Reputation: 2746
Quote:
Originally Posted by john70 View Post


Bryam Hills (Armonk) average SAT score is over 1800. Pleasantville 1600s. Pleasantville is second tier at best, maybe third tier.

The following school districts are superior to Pleasantville: Chappaqua, Byram Hills, Edgmont, Scarsdale, Rye, Bronxville, Irvington, Ardsley, Briarcliff, Fox Lane, North Salem, Rye brook, Blind Brook, Hastings, Mamaroneck, Katonah Lewisboro and Croton Harmon. I am probably missing a few.

Its on par with Yorktown, Somers, Eastchester, Harrison, Dobbs and closer to white plains and New Rochelle than the top districts.

PAY NO ATTENTION TO THIS UTTER AND ABSOLUTE NONSENSE!

There is no evidence that all those schools are "superior" to Pleasantville.

SAT scores are a function of income - the districts with the highest median incomes, the most expensive single-family houses, and the fewest rental units and coop apartments, have the highest SAT scores. It's that simple.

Do you really think that the 5th grade teachers in Bronxville are superior to the 5th grade teachers in Pleasantville? Or the Biology teachers in Irvington are superior to the biology teachers in Pleasantville? Somehow I doubt it.

I don't live in Pleasantville. I find that the village has many charms, and I would rather live there than in "superior" Chappaqua because the people in Pleasantville are more like my kind of people.

And guess what? Pleasantville kids get into Ivy League schools! And Chappaqua kids go to Westchester Community College! That may come as a shock to some people.

AGAIN - PAY NO ATTENTION THE PRIOR POSTER!!!
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Old 02-11-2014, 08:02 AM
 
Location: Ossining, NY
87 posts, read 167,071 times
Reputation: 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by john70 View Post


Bryam Hills (Armonk) average SAT score is over 1800. Pleasantville 1600s. Pleasantville is second tier at best, maybe third tier.

The following school districts are superior to Pleasantville: Chappaqua, Byram Hills, Edgmont, Scarsdale, Rye, Bronxville, Irvington, Ardsley, Briarcliff, Fox Lane, North Salem, Rye brook, Blind Brook, Hastings, Mamaroneck, Katonah Lewisboro and Croton Harmon. I am probably missing a few.
Have to say this list takes things a bit too far in trying to knock Pleasantville down a peg. john70, you even stated earlier in this thread that P'ville was best among the four (Pville, Croton, Yorktown, Thornwood) where OP is considering.

If john took exception to the use of 'top-notch' as descriptor, then he is correct from an SAT score/overall prestige point of view. Chappaqua/Byram Hills/Briarcliff are all viewed as superior in this respect. However, keep in mind OP is not looking at Southern Westchester, which rules out much of the list. Also, judging by the OP's four targets there could be a budget restriction and/or a preference for a culture other than that of the very, very top districts. Of the four listed, I do think most would say that they are all very good, with Pleasantville or perhaps Croton having the strongest rep.

As to the actual "best" school, who can answer that? You could argue the most impressive teachers are the ones who are able to coax something out of their less monied students in the lower tier districts, but I don't think that's what most people are looking for when they ask this. Take the SAT scores for what they are worth.
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Old 02-11-2014, 08:15 AM
 
6,993 posts, read 9,499,348 times
Reputation: 2952
I did tours in some of those schools john70 mentioned so just to put into perspective some of those comments about measures that someone said are supposedly "harder to determine":

- The majority of public schools in the US already teach to the test; those that don't eventually will when the new core curriculum standards are rolled out. Point is, this is moot and academic wherever public school you send your kid to. And teaching to the test/standards is not necessarily a bad thing if these standards were built to encourage more depth in the lesson plan, which is the whole point of the common core.

- Every school I visited (Bronxville, Fox Meadow, Garden City (LI), Great Neck (LI), SMS, Rye, etc.) at least in southern Westchester has been performing differentiated instruction for years. It's good to have but not exactly a rarity.

- All of these schools in affluent districts had principals who professed that their teachers are dedicated to the instruction material, as well as parents who were satisfied with the quality of teaching. Take it for what it's worth.

- Every school at some point in time will have their share of good and bad teachers. You can have a school that has good teachers today, and bad teachers tomorrow.

So the point is, a lot of the above mentioned features are already widely available in many of the districts in Westchester and LI and definitely in many of these schools that john70 posted. You shouldn't have to lose hairs trying to kick the tires.

What should be looked out for are programs that support a strong academic environment, since this is where schools and districts tend to differ. These programs cost money and therefore reflect the priorities of the families who attend these districts. Are they committed to reasonable class sizes (or are class sizes slowly creeping up)? Do they have really good teachers aides (as good as the teachers themselves) for all academic subjects? Do they offer orchestra? Do they have fullsome art studios and science labs? How much to they spend on Intel Science competitions? Are they slowly charging students more for AP?

Last edited by Forest_Hills_Daddy; 02-11-2014 at 08:27 AM..
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Old 02-11-2014, 08:55 AM
 
Location: Ossining, NY
87 posts, read 167,071 times
Reputation: 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by Forest_Hills_Daddy View Post
What should be looked out for are programs that support a strong academic environment, since this is where schools and districts tend to differ. These programs cost money and therefore reflect the priorities of the families who attend these districts. Are they committed to reasonable class sizes (or are class sizes slowly creeping up)? Do they have really good teachers aides (as good as the teachers themselves) for all academic subjects? Do they offer orchestra? Do they have fullsome art studios and science labs? How much to they spend on Intel Science competitions? Are they slowly charging students more for AP?
FHD, this is absolutely correct! These are great things to look at. My point about the "best" school being hard to determine is that this is subjective and you can't necessarily answer what will be best for someone else, especially once you've narrowed down to the elite or even good schools and start splitting hairs between them. People tend to speak in a lot of absolutes on here.
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Old 02-11-2014, 09:29 AM
 
6,993 posts, read 9,499,348 times
Reputation: 2952
The other thing I forgot to mention - be cognizant of the budget discussions. Try to review the budget hearings and see if there are any heated discussions about cutting instructional programs. Look whether there are voting blocks who want to cut spending on these programs like diluting orchestra or eliminating studio art, or increase class sizes. In many of the prestigious districts, voters support funding for these programs so you have peace of mind that they will always be available.
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Old 02-11-2014, 11:05 AM
 
Location: Yorktown Heights NY
1,316 posts, read 4,555,553 times
Reputation: 426
Quote:
Originally Posted by Forest_Hills_Daddy View Post
I did tours in some of those schools john70 mentioned so just to put into perspective some of those comments about measures that someone said are supposedly "harder to determine":

- The majority of public schools in the US already teach to the test; those that don't eventually will when the new core curriculum standards are rolled out. Point is, this is moot and academic wherever public school you send your kid to. And teaching to the test/standards is not necessarily a bad thing if these standards were built to encourage more depth in the lesson plan, which is the whole point of the common core.

- Every school I visited (Bronxville, Fox Meadow, Garden City (LI), Great Neck (LI), SMS, Rye, etc.) at least in southern Westchester has been performing differentiated instruction for years. It's good to have but not exactly a rarity.

- All of these schools in affluent districts had principals who professed that their teachers are dedicated to the instruction material, as well as parents who were satisfied with the quality of teaching. Take it for what it's worth.

- Every school at some point in time will have their share of good and bad teachers. You can have a school that has good teachers today, and bad teachers tomorrow.

So the point is, a lot of the above mentioned features are already widely available in many of the districts in Westchester and LI and definitely in many of these schools that john70 posted. You shouldn't have to lose hairs trying to kick the tires.

What should be looked out for are programs that support a strong academic environment, since this is where schools and districts tend to differ. These programs cost money and therefore reflect the priorities of the families who attend these districts. Are they committed to reasonable class sizes (or are class sizes slowly creeping up)? Do they have really good teachers aides (as good as the teachers themselves) for all academic subjects? Do they offer orchestra? Do they have fullsome art studios and science labs? How much to they spend on Intel Science competitions? Are they slowly charging students more for AP?
There is a huge difference between teaching to the standards and teaching to the test. Teaching to the standards is what should be happening since the standards are what have been identified as the critical learning outcomes students need to master. There is a huge difference between teaching a student how to, for example, use text details to make an inference about the author’s purpose in writing a text and teaching a student how to correctly answer a question on author’s purpose. The former is teaching kids to use higher level thinking skills to make inferences; the latter is teaching kids to recognize question format and choose the best of the available answer choices. Many of the schools that people on this forum consider “top tier” are known to be test-prep factories that focus instruction on teaching students to ace the test, not to master the skills the test is intended to assess mastery of.

Most schools have differentiated instruction of some sort, but the degree and skill with which schools do it varies dramatically. If I were selecting a school I would make sure to find out how the classes are structured to provide adequate small group level-based instruction to ensure that students are being supported and challenged as needed. Lots of schools in Westchester only play lip service to differentiated instruction and do a terrible job of meeting the needs of students, especially more advanced students.

I totally agree about looking at budgets, facilities, programs, class size, specials (arts, orchestra, etc), after school offering and clubs (tells you how committed the teachers are), and any and all innovative programs and relationships with outside groups and companies. These are all excellent indicators of the “educational community” that the school provides for students.
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Old 02-11-2014, 11:34 AM
 
6,993 posts, read 9,499,348 times
Reputation: 2952
Quote:
Originally Posted by dma1250 View Post
There is a huge difference between teaching to the standards and teaching to the test. Teaching to the standards is what should be happening since the standards are what have been identified as the critical learning outcomes students need to master. There is a huge difference between teaching a student how to, for example, use text details to make an inference about the author’s purpose in writing a text and teaching a student how to correctly answer a question on author’s purpose. The former is teaching kids to use higher level thinking skills to make inferences; the latter is teaching kids to recognize question format and choose the best of the available answer choices. Many of the schools that people on this forum consider “top tier” are known to be test-prep factories that focus instruction on teaching students to ace the test, not to master the skills the test is intended to assess mastery of.
You should see much less of a difference between standards and tests as the new standards are rolled out, which supposedly incorporates tests that more accurately reflect the meeting of the new standards. I believe that 2013 was the first year that many public school students were required to take the new tests; I would take a closer look at the ones that saw a big drop in test scores from 2012. That could indicate which ones were test prep factories.
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Old 02-11-2014, 04:35 PM
 
Location: Yorktown Heights NY
1,316 posts, read 4,555,553 times
Reputation: 426
Quote:
Originally Posted by Forest_Hills_Daddy View Post
You should see much less of a difference between standards and tests as the new standards are rolled out, which supposedly incorporates tests that more accurately reflect the meeting of the new standards. I believe that 2013 was the first year that many public school students were required to take the new tests; I would take a closer look at the ones that saw a big drop in test scores from 2012. That could indicate which ones were test prep factories.
New York created its own assessments aligned with the Common Core State Standards, which it used in Spring 2013. These were very traditional tests and the test prep materials I saw for them were quite standard and very much drilled kids in taking the test, not learning the skills.

In spring 2015 every state that adopted the CCSS will use the new assessments. The two tests states can choose from, PARCC and SBAC (New York is using PARCC), are both a departure from traditional standardized tests and should do a much better job of assessing skill mastery. I think it's fair to say that as of 2015 it will be a little bit harder for schools to teach to the test without teaching the skills and strategies that the tests are designed to assess.
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