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Old 04-08-2008, 08:44 AM
 
60 posts, read 136,420 times
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I have narrowed down my choices to these schools. I am interested in knowing two things about each, if anyone has direct experience or knowledge.

1. Is there a decent arts program at the school? I want to make sure this isn't sacrificed for the sake of testing.

2. How much emphasis is there on testing? I realize testing is one way to measure a person's aptitude, but I don't want to put my child in a school where a ton of time is spent teaching kids how to take tests at these early levels. I read somewhere that Oak Grove devotes and entire month of the year to this. Is that true?

Thanks for the help in advance.
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Old 04-08-2008, 10:51 AM
 
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I just joined this forum as my husband's job may relocate us so I have begun the sad process of researching our potential new home.

Several years ago, when we were relocated to Atlanta, we were looking in the same area. We visited many of the schools in the area and decided to buy a home in the Oakhurst area. We love Oakhurst, but we also enjoy being a part of a small school system where our elected officials know that they will be held accountable for their decisions. My friends in surrounding systems, DeKalb, Atlanta, etc, don't feel like they have much recourse when things go wrong.

Because it is such a small system, and the schools are so small, I feel that test prep isn't a priority except for those students who are weak in basic skills. Academics are strong at Oakhurst as are arts and foreign language. With less than 250 students, I think our kids get more of those things than students at larger schools with the same amount of staff for far more kids.

One of our priorities if we have to move is to find a school district that is small like Decatur.

I have heard the same things about Oak Grove, but my friends who are there don't seem to mind it. When you own a home that you have paid a premium for because of the test scores, you have a vested interest in seeing that those test scores stay high. (I have a friend at Vanderlyn who actually brags about her first graders CRCT prep homework. Sad, if you ask me.)
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Old 04-08-2008, 02:56 PM
 
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My children attend Oakhurst. They have art every week, Spanish for 30 minutes every day and music twice a week. In addition, Oakhurst is an Expeditionary Learning school (Google ELOB). EL schools incorporate art and music into everyday learning (via extended learning expeditions on a given topic). Children make displays, compose poems, conduct experiments and sing songs about the things that they are learning. So even though "art class" only occurs once a week, the children are constantly using their creative/artistic skills in their regular learning time. They also have a ton of field trips related to their expeditions. So far, my middle child has done expeditions this year on heroes (real life ones), owls, space and American Indians.

Oakhurst (and other Decatur schools) probably have less overall emphasis on testing than any other school system. As we get into spring, I do see a few more worksheets than the rest of the year and they do spend a couple of days on "test prep." However, we do not have those weird test taking "rallies" that many schools have. The teachers, however, are very cognizant of GA curriculum requirements and they spend a ton of planning time designing the expeditions to make sure that they include everything required by the state.

Heavy test prep at Oakhurst is targeted. If a child is in danger of failing the CRCT, that child will get specific attention to help him/her pass. However, there is very little class-wide test prep.
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Old 04-08-2008, 05:28 PM
 
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I spoke to a friend at Fernbank and she said they get Spanish only once a week. They are starting a foundation with hopes that perhaps they will be able to hire a teacher with donated funds to have spanish twice a week.
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Old 04-09-2008, 07:21 AM
 
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Fernbank is an IB (International Baccalaureate) candidate school. I may be mistaken, but my understanding is that an extensive foreign language program is required for them to become fully certified. I would imagine that they are going to have to offer it more than once a week to meet the IB requirements.
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Old 04-09-2008, 08:40 AM
 
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Actually, they were approved offering it only once a week. the primary years program has less rigid rules than the high school one, I believe. I understand from people in DeKalb that all the system is funding is one foreign language teacher.

To serve 550 students effectively on a daily basis... would take at least 3 teachers.
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Old 04-09-2008, 08:48 AM
 
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Bummer. IMO with the way our world is changing every child in the US should be fluent in at least two languages. Of course, our "enlightened" state leaders appear to disagree!

What about Shamrock Middle? Does MYP have more requirements for foreign language than PYP? I do know that at Renfroe Middle they are implementing IB and as a result, Spanish is no longer an elective. It will be offered every day as of next year. It always puzzled me that they teach Spanish every day in elementary in Decatur and then it nearly disappears in middle school - it always seemed like it made the elementary classes a complete waste of time. Well, thankfully - they are fixing that before my kids get there.
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Old 04-09-2008, 08:53 AM
 
3,972 posts, read 11,277,165 times
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I looked it up on the IBO website and indeed it looks as if the school must teach a language -- but doesn't specify how intensively. I know that several DeKalb schools dropped out of pursuing IB because of this.

Our state leaders really don't get much about public education at all.
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Old 06-24-2008, 01:46 PM
 
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Well, the place we liked best all around (and can actuallly afford) is zoned for Fernbank. So it looks like that is where our kiddo will go. I figure if it sucks we can always move in a year, but I will be interested to see how this new IB program is implemented (and how good it is) at Fernbank. Go Falcons!!!
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Old 06-24-2008, 04:11 PM
 
3,972 posts, read 11,277,165 times
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I am glad you found somewhere you can afford-- I am sure it will be fine.
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