U.S. CitiesCity-Data Forum Index
Go Back   City-Data Forum > U.S. Forums > Colorado > Colorado Springs
 [Register]
Please register to participate in our discussions with 2 million other members - it's free and quick! Some forums can only be seen by registered members. After you create your account, you'll be able to customize options and access all our 15,000 new posts/day with fewer ads.
View detailed profile (Advanced) or search
site with Google Custom Search

Search Forums  (Advanced)
 
Old 07-11-2021, 09:32 PM
 
Location: Topeka, KS
10 posts, read 11,454 times
Reputation: 16

Advertisements

My wife and I are beginning to plan a move to COS area next fall/winter, after she finishes her Masters. We have a 9, going on 10, year old, who is hearing impaired (not deaf, but hearing aids) which has also created some speech issues. We are pretty happy with his current school, and don't want to sacrifice his education for the move. I originally wanted to be in the Green Mountain Falls or Woodland Park area, but Manitou and Woodland Park schools don't seem to rank very high. Cheyenne and Academy "appear" to be the place to be. Is that correct? What are your thoughts/experiences? Ones to avoid specifically? Thank you.
Rate this post positively Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message

 
Old 07-14-2021, 10:10 AM
 
6,381 posts, read 8,854,960 times
Reputation: 7163
I think the rankings don't really tell you that much, honestly, especially at the district-wide level. Rankings really tell you about relative affluence more than anything else. While more affluent districts have higher rankings, they also tend to have less experience and dedication to serve students with any kind of 'need', and they tend to fleece you for every service that other less affluent districts provide for free or greatly subsidize - you'll be paying an arm and a leg in various fees for everything like sports, busses, and so on in Cheyenne Mountain, for example. Academy is large enough that experiences are not going to be as extreme as D12 and would be more varied. This is just my opinion, but if you are a rich family with a star student you'll be just great in D12, but if I had a struggling student and/or would be financially strapping myself to be in D12, I'd avoid it at all costs.

I've been hearing less-good things about D38 and D49 lately, but that doesn't mean they're bad. I'd say you could probably find what you want in D20 (Academy) or D11 (just avoid the Mitchell H.S. area - far too much turnover going on there right now - D2 (Harrison) has some strong elementary schools but struggles turn up in higher grades - the effects of high poverty rates start to show. D8 is worth considering - it is rather well funded due to its relationship with Fort Carson. D3 would probably be on par with Woodland Park or Manitou, but a little bigger - all of those I'd say are 'fine' - neither great nor bad.

I would suggest, if you can, targeting a few and if you make some trips out here make arrangements for school visits, talk to the school staff about what you're looking for and what your concerns are, and see who gives you the best responses. Sometimes you'll come across an unexpected gem - a school in a less affluent area that just has a great feel - a warm and caring staff with good skills that will really serve your child well.

Also, be aware that you can do some 'Choicing' in Colorado. If you live out of normal range, you would have to provide transportation, and if a school is full and you don't live in their normal boundaries they can turn you away, but you do have some ability to enroll your child in a school whose attendance boundaries are outside your neighborhood. There are applications and deadlines - usually in Jan/Feb for the coming school year.
Rate this post positively Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 07-14-2021, 11:50 AM
 
2 posts, read 2,175 times
Reputation: 10
My kids go to D11 and we are very happy with the district, schools and teachers. We also live in the district, on the northside by Briargate.

And as said by otowi, Colorado has Choicing which allows you to enroll your kids where you want.

[url]https://www.cde.state.co.us/choice/openenrollment[/url] - more on that
Rate this post positively Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 07-15-2021, 09:56 PM
 
4,825 posts, read 2,848,951 times
Reputation: 5846
Otowi made a very good point: Schools should be evaluated in a more nuanced way than just "good," "better" and "best," particularly if you have special considerations. Top-ranked schools are often just wealthy schools. The schools may certainly be great, and if you have a high-achieving student who wants to take a lot of AP classes and be in a competitive academic environment, that can be a great fit. But that same environment may be a terrible fit for a different student.

Choice is, in my opinion, a fantastic thing here. It can lead to better economic integration in schools, and it allows parents like yourself to identify which school is a good fit for your son and his needs. This may be in one of the districts typically listed as being good (D20 or D12, for example). But it might be somewhere else, too.

Also keep in mind that we have some good charter schools in Colorado Springs. In fact, the two schools with the highest average SAT scores in all of the Pikes Peak region were charter schools (Thomas MacLaren and Vanugard). This is incredible considering charter schools are not just pulling from wealthy zoned neighborhoods and can't have any sort of test or academic selection criteria.

https://gazette.com/news/colorado-sp...3e500d664.html
Rate this post positively Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 07-16-2021, 08:48 AM
 
6,381 posts, read 8,854,960 times
Reputation: 7163
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wittgenstein's Ghost View Post
Also keep in mind that we have some good charter schools in Colorado Springs. In fact, the two schools with the highest average SAT scores in all of the Pikes Peak region were charter schools (Thomas MacLaren and Vanugard). This is incredible considering charter schools are not just pulling from wealthy zoned neighborhoods and can't have any sort of test or academic selection criteria.

https://gazette.com/news/colorado-sp...3e500d664.html
Charter schools are very quirky by design and include both the top-performing and lowest-performing. Some of them are for-profit, some have very specific agendas. They may have their own school boards which can be very micromanaging over little pet ideas (such as board member X requires all students and teachers write in cursive 100% of the time, and students must never be taught printing.)

A little insight on the charter schools who get the top scores, from someone who taught in one - all is not as it seems, perhaps. At least some of them achieve these scores primarily through two means - 1. focusing very heavily on things to raise test scores for their image and not focusing on other things, and 2. controlling who they let in and keep in the school through a variety of means. It is not that they have some magic bullet of better instruction.

As an example of #1 - the place where I worked (middle school) thought any kind of actual hands-on experience in science classes - labs, etc., were not important at all. They viewed science as a facts-memorization course with no equipment needed aside from whiteboard and textbook because the standardized test scores would not be benefitted by lab experience. They declined to offer any extracurriculars because they didn't want to spend money on it and didn't think it would improve their scores. They didn't want certain state standards covered in instruction because they did not politically/religiously align with their core values - for example - don't teach evolution unless to teach kids it is wrong, don't teach astronomy concepts that suggest something is hundreds of thousands of light years away because the universe cannot be old enough for light to have traveled that far because some people on our school board believe the universe is less than 10000 years old.

About #2 - some ways the school I worked at went about this included a. not providing any kind of special needs services (Charters can choose to do that, regular public schools cannot) - no SPED, no 504, no school counselors, no nurses, not even lunch - this was deliberate because they wanted to be a school with good rankings at minimal cost and providing those services would mean they would have to accept students who qualified for those services and they didn't really want them. b. gaming the admissions list - they kept their class sizes carefully controlled/limited to one class per grade of maybe 22 (something public schools can't choose to do), and if a student or family was not up to par, they came up with rules to ensure they went back into the lottery for admission the next year, effectively losing their seat in the school. The rules they came up with included: bring your kid late to school more than two times, and your kid goes to the lottery next year; your kid doesn't turn in at least 85% of his homework, and your kid goes to the lottery; your kid gets a C in one of their classes and we tell you you must have your child repeat the entire grade next year or go to the lottery because they believed having the child repeat would raise their test scores. They could exert a lot of pressure on students to perform in a very sink-or-swim environment. The middle school English teacher prided herself on assigning "two-hours" of homework every night 7 days a week, which was two-hours if your kid had no issues and got everything right away, but if they didn't, your child might spend 4-6 hours a night 7 days a week on English alone, and still have homework from their other subjects still to do.

The school I taught in was the middle school that fed to Vanguard and run by the same people although Vanguard was still a few years away from existence then. I imagine the high school has to provide a few more of the services the middle school didn't. But after seeing what kids were put through in the middle school, I don't care how high ranked it is, I wouldn't think of enrolling my own children there - I got the distinct impression they only cared about the students to the extent that something improved their ranking or reputation - it was all about appearance, and they truly believed that the appearance is all that mattered and was the key to their kids being in the 1% as adults - their end goal.

All this to say that you can't really judge if a school is right for your child by its ranking or test scores as Wittgenstein's Ghost was saying as well. The schools I mentioned above of course have their positives as well and certain kids may thrive in them, and things can change in them over time also. But a high rank/score doesn't equate to ideal school for every kid.
Rate this post positively Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 07-16-2021, 04:09 PM
 
4,825 posts, read 2,848,951 times
Reputation: 5846
Wow, that was a really insightful post. Thanks for sharing. I was aware that charter schools could vary wildly in terms of quality, but I hadn't thought about the ways in which the system could be "gamed."

Any insight into Thomas MacLaren by chance? We are considering them starting in kindergarten in a few years.
Rate this post positively Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 07-16-2021, 07:35 PM
 
6,381 posts, read 8,854,960 times
Reputation: 7163
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wittgenstein's Ghost View Post
Wow, that was a really insightful post. Thanks for sharing. I was aware that charter schools could vary wildly in terms of quality, but I hadn't thought about the ways in which the system could be "gamed."

Any insight into Thomas MacLaren by chance? We are considering them starting in kindergarten in a few years.
I don't have much personal experience with them but what I've hears is mostly good. In general, the ability to 'game' the system is available to all charters by the nature of the way charter rules work. I personally like MacLaren's claimed educational philosophies and styles (Socratic seminars and original texts, performing arts, etc.) and find it a worthy experiment that they segregate most courses by gender. And they seem to be more transparent than some charters - putting board agendas online, etc., which is a good sign. I wish they offered P.E. in upper grades instead of expecting students to do it outside of their school day, but I know something has to give in what they can fit in a day. I like that they get their entire student body to calculus and physics and that they don't do ability grouping. But that does indicate that some students might really struggle there depending on at what age they enroll and what learning issues they may have and so on. The picture of their graduates on their website suggests a lack of diversity compared to local demographics, and their website information suggests they are not prepared to accommodate all types of special needs but may be able to address minor needs. They don't offer a wide range of athletics or extracurriculars, so if your family has interest in particular ones, you may want to see if what they do offer is sufficient. It looks like they're associated with Colorado College in some ways, and I consider that a positive.

My advice would be to watch some of their board meetings or go to PTA/SAC meetings - you'll start to get good insight into what 'office politics' and agendas, if any, may be at play and whether or not you'll find them to be issues. I'd also visit/tour, make sure I could handle the transportation needs to be my kid there and back every day, and make sure the building location and facility feels sufficiently safe and sound. But, if you start your child out at a school and don't like it, you can always change your mind. I say that with the caveat that in my observation students do best socially, emotionally, and academically if they have more stability in schooling vs. change, unless change is an absolute necessity. The kids I see struggling most in school are almost always the ones who have had the most disrupted schooling experiences, especially those who switch schools multiple times in a single school year.
Rate this post positively Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 07-16-2021, 09:33 PM
 
4,825 posts, read 2,848,951 times
Reputation: 5846
Quote:
Originally Posted by otowi View Post
I don't have much personal experience with them but what I've hears is mostly good. In general, the ability to 'game' the system is available to all charters by the nature of the way charter rules work. I personally like MacLaren's claimed educational philosophies and styles (Socratic seminars and original texts, performing arts, etc.) and find it a worthy experiment that they segregate most courses by gender. And they seem to be more transparent than some charters - putting board agendas online, etc., which is a good sign. I wish they offered P.E. in upper grades instead of expecting students to do it outside of their school day, but I know something has to give in what they can fit in a day. I like that they get their entire student body to calculus and physics and that they don't do ability grouping. But that does indicate that some students might really struggle there depending on at what age they enroll and what learning issues they may have and so on. The picture of their graduates on their website suggests a lack of diversity compared to local demographics, and their website information suggests they are not prepared to accommodate all types of special needs but may be able to address minor needs. They don't offer a wide range of athletics or extracurriculars, so if your family has interest in particular ones, you may want to see if what they do offer is sufficient. It looks like they're associated with Colorado College in some ways, and I consider that a positive.

My advice would be to watch some of their board meetings or go to PTA/SAC meetings - you'll start to get good insight into what 'office politics' and agendas, if any, may be at play and whether or not you'll find them to be issues. I'd also visit/tour, make sure I could handle the transportation needs to be my kid there and back every day, and make sure the building location and facility feels sufficiently safe and sound. But, if you start your child out at a school and don't like it, you can always change your mind. I say that with the caveat that in my observation students do best socially, emotionally, and academically if they have more stability in schooling vs. change, unless change is an absolute necessity. The kids I see struggling most in school are almost always the ones who have had the most disrupted schooling experiences, especially those who switch schools multiple times in a single school year.
Thanks again. I'm friends with one of the board members, and another good friend sends his kids there (with good results). But it's always nice to get another perspective. I believe they are giving bonus points to racial minorities in the lottery process in an effort to promote diversity. I'm not sure whether that has been effective, though.

One more question, then I'll stop: What about Colorado Springs Charter Academy? They seem to be more of a question mark, although the parents I have talked to have been happy.
Rate this post positively Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 07-17-2021, 01:47 PM
 
6,381 posts, read 8,854,960 times
Reputation: 7163
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wittgenstein's Ghost View Post
Thanks again. I'm friends with one of the board members, and another good friend sends his kids there (with good results). But it's always nice to get another perspective. I believe they are giving bonus points to racial minorities in the lottery process in an effort to promote diversity. I'm not sure whether that has been effective, though.

One more question, then I'll stop: What about Colorado Springs Charter Academy? They seem to be more of a question mark, although the parents I have talked to have been happy.
I don't know much about them, but they 'look' not that different from regular public, to me. Their main purpose for existence, it seems, is to be anti-Common Core. They're more against something than for something. John MacLaren really seems to have much more of a complete vision and reason for being.
Rate this post positively Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Please register to post and access all features of our very popular forum. It is free and quick. Over $68,000 in prizes has already been given out to active posters on our forum. Additional giveaways are planned.

Detailed information about all U.S. cities, counties, and zip codes on our site: City-data.com.


Reply
Please update this thread with any new information or opinions. This open thread is still read by thousands of people, so we encourage all additional points of view.

Quick Reply
Message:


Settings
X
Data:
Loading data...
Based on 2000-2020 data
Loading data...

123
Hide US histogram


Over $104,000 in prizes was already given out to active posters on our forum and additional giveaways are planned!

Go Back   City-Data Forum > U.S. Forums > Colorado > Colorado Springs

All times are GMT -6.

© 2005-2021, Advameg, Inc. · Please obey Forum Rules · Terms of Use and Privacy Policy · Bug Bounty

City-Data.com - Contact Us - Archive 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37 - Top