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Old 12-09-2010, 07:59 AM
 
Location: VA
4 posts, read 39,302 times
Reputation: 13

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Hi! I just moved to the Fairfax County area from Puerto Rico. My daughters were attending a private school back in PR.

They are in K and 2nd grade at a public school in Vienna now, but I'm starting to wonder if they are getting a good education. At least for a 2nd grader, I would have expected more homework (which doesn't necessarily means that they are learning more), but she does seems way too relaxed. When I received the work that she has done during the week (every Tuesday), it just seems too simple.

I just want to know how do private schools in the area compare vs public schools. Is there really a big difference. I know that private schools are expensive, but do kids really learn a lot more? I want to make sure they receive a great education, and are well prepared for college.

Also, the students that attend TJ, do they come from public or mostly private schools? Just asking, because they are really well prepared, and if they come mostly from public schools, then I guess my question is answered...

Thanks in advance for your responses,
PRMOM
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Old 12-09-2010, 08:24 AM
 
Location: among the clustered spires
2,380 posts, read 4,515,042 times
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"she does seems way too relaxed."

Why is it bad to have a kid that's not stressing out?

If you think she isn't learning enough in school, read with her, take her on field trips, etc., etc. If she likes history, get an old college textbook, if she likes English, take her to the library, if she likes computers, get her an old $300 laptop to install Linux on, etc., etc. Most private schools in Northern VA are there for parents who are either highly religious or want to say their kid goes to private school.

Vienna has some of the better public schools in the county and hence Northern VA -- and even the nation. Madison, Oakton, and Marshall are all among the top schools in the country, both in SAT scores and AP/IB classes taken by graduating seniors. Unless your kid can get into Beauvoir or one of the elite private schools, or has special needs, or you are particularly religious, I'm not sure how much of an advantage you get by going private instead of one of the high-end FCPS publics.

K and 2nd grade are a tad early to be worrying about getting into TJ. Most TJ entrants come from public schools, or the GT centers to be specific.
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Old 12-09-2010, 08:25 AM
 
5,125 posts, read 10,088,046 times
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TJ students primarily come from the Fairfax, Loudoun and Arlington public schools. However, it's a magnet school with a competitive entrance exam, and you can't assume your children will be admitted to TJ six or eight years from now.

We have very good public schools in Fairfax, and students are generally well prepared for college, but they probably aren't generally as demanding as some private schools and they certainly can't give individual students the same degree of personal attention. Even the top local public schools sometimes get slammed for "teaching to the [standardized] tests." The level of homework that is assigned can be a bit inconsistent.

My prediction is that, if you or your daughters ever attended a school like Academia del Perpetuo Socorro in San Juan that tends to place a very high percentage of its graduates in top colleges and universities, you'll eventually start thinking about places like Madeira or The Potomac School for your daughters. There are some good private schools in NoVa, but considerably more in DC and Maryland.

Last edited by JD984; 12-09-2010 at 08:43 AM..
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Old 12-09-2010, 08:39 AM
 
Location: VA
4 posts, read 39,302 times
Reputation: 13
Default Thanks

JEB77 Thanks for your reply.

They actually attended Baldwin School of Puerto Rico. I'm definitely not looking for a religious school. I just want to make sure that they are learning what they are supposed to for their age.

I read all about magnets, child gifted programs, how to get to TJ, etc.

I just have this feeling that they are only teaching what they need just to pass the standardized tests. I don't know if you understand what I mean (sorry, my English is not too good). Like, the definition of matter is this(just as an ex), and forget about the rest, that's all you need to pass the test.

But, I guess I just have to be patience. I do read with them, and got books at home, etc...

Thanks, again....

Last edited by PRMOM; 12-09-2010 at 08:56 AM..
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Old 12-09-2010, 08:40 AM
 
Location: Northern Virginia
4,489 posts, read 10,943,609 times
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The only reason I would look at private schools in this area are for religious reasons, or because you want a small class atmosphere. The public schools in this area are very good.

Your daughter will get the chance to test into GT classes for 3rd grade, at which point the rigor may pick up a bit.
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Old 12-09-2010, 08:49 AM
 
Location: VA
4 posts, read 39,302 times
Reputation: 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by stpickrell View Post
"she does seems way too relaxed."

Why is it bad to have a kid that's not stressing out?

If you think she isn't learning enough in school, read with her, take her on field trips, etc., etc. If she likes history, get an old college textbook, if she likes English, take her to the library, if she likes computers, get her an old $300 laptop to install Linux on, etc., etc. Most private schools in Northern VA are there for parents who are either highly religious or want to say their kid goes to private school.

Vienna has some of the better public schools in the county and hence Northern VA -- and even the nation. Madison, Oakton, and Marshall are all among the top schools in the country, both in SAT scores and AP/IB classes taken by graduating seniors. Unless your kid can get into Beauvoir or one of the elite private schools, or has special needs, or you are particularly religious, I'm not sure how much of an advantage you get by going private instead of one of the high-end FCPS publics.

K and 2nd grade are a tad early to be worrying about getting into TJ. Most TJ entrants come from public schools, or the GT centers to be specific.
Thanks for your reply.

Being relax is not bad at all, but being TOO relax might mean that they are not being challenge. That sometimes makes students too lazy.

I do read to them, and encourage them to learn new things.

It's just that like I told the other poster, is just this feeling that they are just teaching what they need to pass the tests. I don't know, I might be too paranoid.

About TJ, I only mentioned, because if the students that are admitted at that school come mostly from public schools, then it probably means that Fairfax public schools are indeed well prepared. Unless, they only accept students from public, but I'm sure that's not the case. Definitely not worrying about TJ, I only want to make sure they get a good education.
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Old 12-09-2010, 08:56 AM
 
Location: VA
4 posts, read 39,302 times
Reputation: 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by CaliTerp07 View Post
The only reason I would look at private schools in this area are for religious reasons, or because you want a small class atmosphere. The public schools in this area are very good.

Your daughter will get the chance to test into GT classes for 3rd grade, at which point the rigor may pick up a bit.
Thank you, CaliTerp07

I feel a lot better with your responses!!!! I just wanted to be sure that we had made a good decision about choosing a public school vs a private one.
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Old 12-09-2010, 09:05 AM
 
12,905 posts, read 15,654,531 times
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I think the Fairfax County Schools do a good job. My kids have mostly been in private schools in Prince William County but they did have a few years in public elementary and my daughter spent one year in public high school.

You are absolutely correct in your perception that the schools are teaching to the SOL test. You bet they are. That didn't bother me TOO much with the exception of it just getting on my nerves. The material on the SOL tests was something that's valuable and needs to be learned. Depending on the teacher and the classroom that your child is in depends greatly on what they learn outside the SOL tests.

I did not put my kids in private school solely because they weren't challenged. I did think that was the case in the middle school years (our PWC middle schools are rife with issues in some schools). My issues were that for my daughter especially, she was an "average" student that was getting lost in the shuffle. I sent her to a private Catholic school in Fairfax County. I felt the education there was on par with the public high schools, yet discipline was very much more so enforced and she got more attention that she required. Was it perfect? No, but it was better *for her.*

Most of the kids getting into TJ are from Fairfax public schools. So, yes, Fairfax is doing a good job at getting their students prepared. My kids' private catholic school in PWC always seemed to get one or two students in per year. Because they are a much smaller school and can't fund ALL the math offerings that a public school can, they have a harder time, especially now, that most TJ freshman come in with much higher level math than the general student body. If a private school cannot keep up with those higher level math courses, it will hurt their students' chances for acceptance into TJ.
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Old 12-09-2010, 10:01 AM
 
1,529 posts, read 2,263,504 times
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I have to admit, I was underwhelmed last year when my son was in 2nd grade last year. We also felt that he needed a bit more of a challenge and worked with his teacher. He did a 2nd grade and 3rd grade spelling test each week as well as extra math work. In my son's school, reading is really stressed and I believe that the time spent reading (at least to me) is more important than doing a lot of busy work just to say they had homework. My niece went to private school (Congressional) and I was shocked at how much homework they assigned at the elementary level.

Third grade gets much better.
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Old 12-09-2010, 11:04 AM
 
14 posts, read 33,846 times
Reputation: 17
If you can afford private school, go to private school. If you can't, see if your kids qualify for GT. If they don't, go to Spring Hill. If you can't do that, home school them in the summer and supplement at home. However, you know it seems, even private school won't watch out for your kids like you will. You know their potential and many schools have to focus on everyone and will overlook your child's needs unless you bring it up. They don't mean to, they are just often overworked and underpaid. Yes, be concerned about everything. A retired education superindendent developed a beautiful program to help parents map their children's academic education future. Trust your own heart and don't let people tell you anything that differs from your gut. City of Fairfax Schools: Road Map to Success
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