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Old 12-31-2019, 08:09 PM
577 posts, read 1,474,534 times
Reputation: 532



Does anyone happen to have deep information on this K12 school located in the Broomfield area?
Prospect Ridge Academy.

Seems like a relatively new school and various school rating websites such as niche.com, greatschools.org and Colorado Department of Education (CDE) SchoolView shows interesting rankings and scores.

My family and I live in Lafayette, within walking distance from all the 3 schools that BVSD has assigned to our address by default: Ryan Elementary, Angevine Middle School and Centaurus High School. And I'm finding all 3 (or at least Ryan and Angevine) particularly bad.

My eldest son is in 8th grade and my youngest in 4th grade. They are both attending Aspen Creek K-8, which is not a default assigned school, simply by the virtue of having that allocated as a neighborhood when we were living at a former address.

The eldest son is forced to leave Aspen due to transitioning to High School. On this occasion, we might want to move the youngest son as well (to last / 5th year of Elementary or a K-8 or K-12) - depending where the eldest son's High School will be. Commuting / Driving distance and time is obviously a factor here.

We're trying to leverage any Open Enrollment program available, and not only for the BVSD. It can be also Adams12, Jeffco, and St Vrain.

I've shortlisted these 8 High Schools, and listed in descending order of quality of education (based on a mix of niche.com, usnews.com and my own metrics derived from CDE's SchoolView):

1. Fairview High:

PSAT 11 = 615.7 / 622.9
Grad / dropout / college = 98.7% / 0.2% / 79%
Perf overall / achieve = 87.5% (perform/green) / 90.9% (exceeds/BLUE)
Niche ranking = 3/415
USNews ranking = 10

2. Prospect Ridge (High):

PSAT 11 = 600.6 / 607.4
Grad / dropout / college = 97.5% / 0.6% / 66%
Perf overall / achieve = 93.3% (perform/green) / 100% (exceeds/BLUE)
Niche ranking = 74/415
USNews ranking = n/a

3. Jefferson Academy Secondary:

PSAT 11 = 593.1 / 604.1
Grad / dropout / college = 100% / 0.2% / 68%
Perf overall / achieve = 88.3% (perform/green) / 97.4% (exceeds/BLUE)
Niche ranking = 71/415
USNews ranking = 53

4. Boulder High:

PSAT 11 = 606.7 / 593.4
Grad / dropout / college = 94.6% / 0.5% / 66%
Perf overall / achieve = 78.8% (perform/green) / 75.7% (meets/green)
Niche ranking = 6/415
USNews ranking = 14

5. Monarch High:

[Very similar rating to Boulder High]
PSAT 11th grade = 584.7 / 590.4
Grad / dropout / college = 96.6% / 0.4% / 69%
Perf overall / achieve = 87.1% (perform/green) / 85.7% (meets/green)
Niche ranking = 25/415
USNews ranking = 43

6. Niwot High:

PSAT 11 = 596.9 / 586.3
Grad / dropout / college = 93.6% / 1.1% / 59%
Perf overall / achieve = 68.1% (perform/green) / 60.7% (approaching/YELLOW)
Niche ranking = 15/415
USNews ranking = 34

7. Centaurus High:

PSAT 11 grade = 568.6 / 564.4
Grad / dropout / college = 91.6% / 1.1% / 52%
Perf overall / achieve = 70.6% (perform/green) / 66.4% (meets/green)
Niche ranking = 53/415
USNews ranking = 86

8. Broomfield High:

PSAT 11 = 546.5 / 558.5
Grad / dropout / college = 94.0% / 0.5% / 56%
Perf overall / achieve = 76.3% (perform/green) / 64.7% (meets/green)
Niche ranking = 57/415
USNews ranking = 88

As you can see in the list above, not all the high schools ranking match Niche's or USNews'.
Also, Broomfield HS is mentioned only for reasons of completeness. We are not interested in going with that, as it seems to be very Sports/Athletics oriented. Both of our sons are not into sports, are more introvert and could be easily classified as being on the "branianc" side. They are not into sports, music, drawing etc, but more into exact / STEM sciences, Math being an important component.

You can also notice 2 interesting mentions in my ranking above: The Prospect Ridge Academy and Jefferson Academy (Secondary component of it, but there is also an Elementary school part of the same, at a different address in Broomfield/Westminster). Those 2 schools were intriguing me, because they have very high scores and great performance (even getting to the "Exceeds" band as described by CDE). Although not ranking higher than the "usual suspects" like Fairview High, Boulder High, Niwot High, or even Monarch.

What High School would you go for, if you were me? We'd like our son to pursue an IB (International Baccalaureate) or AP (Advanced Placement) program, and he is a hardworking and serious individual (less "social life" let's say).

4 factors to consider:
F1. Distance: My wife would have to drive both kids from Lafayette: one to High School and the other to an elementary, K-8, and after a year, possibly a middle school.
F2. Timing aspects between opening/closing times for High School and Elementary or K8.
F3. It's harder (but not impossible) for the younger son to move to an Elementary, to stay there for just 1 year (for his 5th grade) and then move, again, to either a Middle or a K-8 school. From this point of view, a K-8 or K-12 would be a better choice. And even keeping his current Aspen Creek K-8 (although in terms of middle school Colorado rankings, there are better K-8 or middle schools i.e. even Monarch K-8 is better. Aspen Creek is best with its Elementary component only).
F4. Aspen Creek K-8, the current school, is in BVSD (district we live in) and going with BVSD Open Enrollment and losing it, would end up in losing Aspen Creek and getting to the bad Ryan Elementary or equally bad Angevine.

We're thinking about these High Schools in particular: Fairview, Boulder High, Niwot High, Prospect Ridge Academy and - as a last resort, Monarch. (Monarch seems to have excellent academics, including an IB and AP program, but recently there have been major drug issues there, including 2 teachers being arrested around 2017 so I heard?).

For the youngest, these schools in descending order of quality: Mesa Elementary (should the eldest son win the BVSD Open Enrollment lottery and get to either Fairview or Boulder High), Monarch K-8 and 3rd option = Aspen Creek K-8 (his current school).

From a convenience point of view, these 3 options/combinations would be ideal - although the quality of education may not be the best (hence the reason for this rather long message/thread):
C1. Centaurus (son would walk from/to home) + Aspen Creek K-8 (current school for the youngest). Wife would keep the same driving/commute as it is now.
C2. Monarch + Monarch K-8 (both sons in one place, and same schedule).
C3. Prospect Ridge (like C2 - both sons in one place, and same schedule).

Other 2 possible routes (with focus on better schools/quality education):
C4. Fairview or Boulder High + Mesa Elementary. About 20 miles commute from home and back. Timing issues: Both open at 8:25/8:30AM but HS ends at 3:45PM while Elementary ends at 3:00PM. Should these timing issues be considered important? Or better education should prevail?
C5. Niwot High + Aspen Creek K-8. About 35 miles commute from home and back. The commute between Lafayette and Niwot is quite good (10 miles one way) and we live close to highway 287. But having to go also to Aspen Creek K-8 in Broomfield adds another 12-14 miles round-trip.

Niwot High + some other Elementary, K8, Middle or K12 schools NORTH of Niwot doesn't seem a good option: not only would add to the commute (i.e. 5 miles North of Niwot towards Longmont would translate to 10 miles to make it back to Niwot and back to Lafayette), but also the Elementary schools in St Vrain school district almost all start at 9:00AM and end around 4:00pm, while High Schools are between 7:45AM and 2:50PM (Niwot High at least).

I have a bad, gut feeling about Centaurus. I've been told by many that a larger Hispanic student component adds some good-to-have diversity. And great IB programme (and AP maybe?) But looking at the FUNDAMENTALS (reading, math) that high school seems to struggle. So I don't buy it.

Could Prospect Ridge Academy be a good choice? Is it comparable to Fairview High and Boulder High?
It has a brand new building and it's in a fairly new (and wealthy?) residential area/subdivision (Anthem). Are the teachers too young/less years of experience maybe? They pay scale (at least according to greatschools.org) doesn't seem too good though? (45k-50k range).

Also Niwot High is interesting (great PSAT score, great reviews, strong IB program), but my only point of concern is that their "Achievement" component of the overall performance metrics at CDE shows "Approaching" rating (yellow color) for 2019.

I also have some rankings for Elementary / K-8 - not sure if you folks would be interested in seeing those as well (let me know).

We've "preventatively" open-enrolled ALREADY with Niwot HS (and we won) and Prospect Ridge Academy (no answer yet). There is still time to open-enroll with BVSD (until Jan 8 2020).

Your insights into this big dilemma are greatly appreciated. And anyone knowing more about each of the High Schools mentioned here - Prospect Ridge especially - their opinions will be super valuable.

Thank you and Happy New Year!

Last edited by smihaila; 12-31-2019 at 08:50 PM..
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Old 01-03-2020, 07:14 AM
2,289 posts, read 2,943,980 times
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I have 2 kids a Fairview and 1 of them is looking at colleges. I know a decent amount about the other schools because of my kids sports friends. Let's start with some basics...

- The best academic high school is Fairview. It's not even close. All of the schools you have listed are fine and your child will be fine. There are bad high schools in Colorado, but they're not in BVSD. Having a spot at Niwot is great.

- You need to research how many kids are applying to each school and how many slots are open.

- Don't underestimate the impact of your child's happiness and friend group on academic success.

- The stats you have listed give you a start, but it's not enough to make a decision. Charter schools generally have better stats because everyone chose to be there and there are very few poor kids. Basically, they don't have the bottom half that traditional schools do. Also, you want to focus on the number of hard college prep classes and the outcomes. The best stats I have found is a high school's Admissions Profile. This is the document sent with college apps that describes the school. Here are the ones for Fairview, Niwot, and Prospect Ridge.

- Prospect Ridge might be the best place for your kid, but the test scores aren't very high. 1150 SAT for a charter school in a wealthy area is pretty low. All of Fairview averages to 1250 for example. Also, 42% of the AP tests are below a 3. There are a lot of reasons for a kid to fail the AP test, but at a wealthy charter most kids are motivated so it speaks to the quality of instruction.

- If you think your kids are heading to CU or Mines, then it really doesn't matter which school you pick. Just make sure they take Calc BC and they will be fine. If you think they want to go to a top 20 school it gets really tough to pick. You want a school that your children will thrive at and has enough rigor. Fairview can grind kids up.

- Look for a school that has a lot of clubs for freshmen that interest your kid. Clubs=friends=thriving.

Hopefully this gets you started. Let me know if there is anything else.
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Old 01-03-2020, 12:45 PM
Location: Greater NYC
3,176 posts, read 6,213,908 times
Reputation: 4570
While we don’t live there anymore we remain heavily connected to those with children in many of those schools. Brown dog gives excellent advice.

I will add do NOT underestimate commuting to and from a school not in your immediate area. Doesn’t mean don’t do it, but having done it, it’s not a breeze and can take a real toll, especially depending on the rest of your schedule. Good luck.
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Old 01-04-2020, 09:12 AM
577 posts, read 1,474,534 times
Reputation: 532
Brown Dog and Idlewile, thank you so much for the insights, and for the tip on high schools' Admission Profile to be used as another metric.

Very good point about Prospect Ridge - being a prep school and having a large concentration of students from a wealthy neighborhood should show higher motivation / better scores (and it doesn't). We'll have to reconsider such option.

Do you know how to tap into the info about number of current enrollments and free slots for any given school, at least for BVSD's Open Enrollment program?

Re: CU: We're aiming for a college/university with a strong focus on Computer Science. More local it is the merrier (why waste resources and more money with renting out a place outside parents' city). It'll greatly depend also on what scholarship can be secured. Not sure how CU ranks amongst all US universities. Hopefully out eldest son will fare good in high school and then we'll prospect the better universities out there.

As a heads-up, we have officially applied to these high and elementary/k-8 for our sons:
(youngest son is currently in 4th grade for the 2019-2020 school year)

A. BVSD district:
- Eldest son: Option 1 = Fairview, 2 = Monarch, 3 = None (we think Boulder High is too far / stressful driving).
- Youngest son: Option 1 = Monarch K-8 (it's a K-8, better than his current Aspen Creek K-8 for middle schoolsegment), 2 = Fireside Elementary, 3 = Mesa Elementary.

B. St Vrain School district: Niwot High (no selection for the youngest son, due to SVVSD elementary schools starting at 9:0AM and middle schools are 5-7 miles up North from Niwot, towards Longmont, and we double that distance in order to return to our location in Lafayette).

C. Adams12: Legacy High and Meridian (wishful thinking). They are both reported as closed for the Choice program, but we applied nonetheless. Also applied for Prospect Ridge for both kids (preventively, but need to reconsider).

D. Jeffco: Jefferson Academy Secondary and Jefferson Academy Elementary.

Best outcome sought: Fairview High for the eldest and Monarch K-8 for youngest son.
Conflict / bad combination: Monarch High and Monarch K-8 for both, because they start and end 30 minutes apart.

Commuting-wise, yes, that's always important factor to consider. We live close to S Boulder Rd & US-287. Commuting to Niwot is 10 miles one-way, and driving time round-trip is about 1h peak hours. Comparable to going to East Boulder via S Boulder Rd to get to Fairview and Mesa Elementary.

We've also realized that we've overlooked the Louisville schools, in the band between Dillon Rd and S Boulder Rd. And the fact that going S Boulder Rd => Via Apia => crossing over US-36 to Superior => Marshall Rd => I-93 makes it a palatable commute to E Boulder / Fairview. That's also the reason for including Fireside Elementary - going by Via Apia => Tyler => Polk Ave => Dahlia, I could drive the youngest son in the morning - my workplace is near Dahlia & Dillon Rd.

Btw, what's your opinion on Monarch? There've been significant drug-related incidents (including a teacher or two getting arrested around 2017?) Academic-wise we've found it better than Centaurus, and the middle school part better than Aspen Creek K-8 (at least scoring/ranking-wise).

Thanks again.

P.S. Wife is a home maker so she can take care of driving.

Last edited by smihaila; 01-04-2020 at 09:36 AM..
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Old 01-08-2020, 05:06 AM
2,289 posts, read 2,943,980 times
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I like your plan. Keep in mind that your younger son can try for Summit Middle or Southern Hills Middle next year. Both are excellent and close to Fairview.

Monarch is great. There is a drug problem at every school, so I'd be prepared for that no matter where your son goes.

Good luck in the lotteries!
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Old 01-08-2020, 08:23 AM
577 posts, read 1,474,534 times
Reputation: 532
Thank you!
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