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Old 03-15-2012, 11:19 PM
 
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Hello,
I was wondering if anybody here has had any experience with both school system. I live in PW (the western part with supposedly better schools), but so far I have not been impressed with the quality of the schools (not challenging, no differentiation, GT program fairly weak). I have heard many good things about Fairfax, and would love to hear from someone that has dealt with both system. We are considering a move to the Powell/Lanier/Fairfax area, and would also like to hear any feedback(good or bad) about these schools.
Thank you
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Old 03-16-2012, 05:47 AM
 
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I won't comment too much as I have not had my kids in both school systems. I've had a couple of friends use both schools systems but that would be anectdotal evidence on my part.

I first want to comment on this part of your post:

Quote:
I live in PW (the western part with supposedly better schools),
You do know that there is NO difference between the curriculum between the eastern and western PWC schools? Everything is the same. What makes the western end of the county score better is demographics. What you have there is basically white, middle to upper-middle class families living there. Period. Not much racial or economic diversity which come along various challenges that the eastern end of the county deals with. These things tend to lower scores overall and create a different environment within the building.

And so it is with Fairfax. The actual curriculum there isn't necessarily "so much better" or "more challenging". I'm sure there are differences as every system has small differences but what makes Fairfax better is that their demographics for the most part are different. Much more wealth than PWC, and their diversity primarily consists of whites and Asians, with a small percentage of financially struggling people. Even their more poor performing school districts (if you can even call them poor performing) do not have the economic challenges that much of eastern PWC has.

The people I have known who have left PWC (mainly from the eastern side) and gone to Fairfax have done so for the schools and have commented that their kids weren't necessarily behind Fairfax kids or more challenged there but that the entire atmosphere in the school (quality of student population and their desire to be engaged in school) was much better. You may not notice that much of a difference leaving the western end of PWC into Fairfax.
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Old 03-16-2012, 06:54 AM
 
Location: Tysons Corner
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Fairfax has more than just Whites and Asians.

My highschool (Lake Braddock) when I graduated had somewhere in the ranges of 40% white, 20% hispanic, 20% Asian/Middle Eastern, 10% black, 10% other.

Was there a significant asian presence? Sure but no more so than hispanic, middle eastern or black. The key to fairfax isn't racial but rather affluence and the fact that almost all the parents are masters degree or higher (atleast mine were).
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Old 03-16-2012, 07:07 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tysonsengineer View Post
Fairfax has more than just Whites and Asians.

Yes, I know this for sure. However, if you look at some of the districts (my friend is in the Centerville/Clifton address area), it is heavily populated with Asians, then whites, then everyone else.

If you look at Prince William County demographics, in some areas you see almost an inverse. I'm not sure there is any one area in PWC that has over a 3% Asian demographic. They also seem to be about even in percentages of White/Black/Hispanic.

I agree that affluence is the key here, which of course is driven by higher education. PWC doesn't seem to have that overall.

In trying to answer the OPs question, he/she seems to want to move thinking that the curriculum is going to be vastly different. I just wanted to point out, and truly is my opinion only, that I think the differences come from racial and economic differences.
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Old 03-16-2012, 02:15 PM
 
Location: Centreville, VA
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChristineVA View Post

And so it is with Fairfax. The actual curriculum there isn't necessarily "so much better" or "more challenging". I'm sure there are differences as every system has small differences but what makes Fairfax better is that their demographics for the most part are different.
While I agree with the overall statement here, there are some subtle differences along the periphery of programs that could be considered significant by some.

If you look at the music programs in FCPS compared with Loudoun or Prince William - it seems that overall FCPS is more challenging and the demands and expectations are greater. As an example if you look at the top HS Bands from the 2011 VBODA band assessments - virtually all FCPS top Bands played level 6 pieces (most difficult) while none from Loudoun and only 2 from PW did. You will find similar results in HS Orchestra.
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Old 03-16-2012, 02:51 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by newgatedenizen View Post
While I agree with the overall statement here, there are some subtle differences along the periphery of programs that could be considered significant by some.

If you look at the music programs in FCPS compared with Loudoun or Prince William - it seems that overall FCPS is more challenging and the demands and expectations are greater. As an example if you look at the top HS Bands from the 2011 VBODA band assessments - virtually all FCPS top Bands played level 6 pieces (most difficult) while none from Loudoun and only 2 from PW did. You will find similar results in HS Orchestra.

Question on this factor: Do you think it is the school that made the difference or was it the commitment of the parents who have spent much time during the child's younger years pushing the musical instruction that would get them to playing level 6 pieces? What I am trying to get at is are PWC students playing less level 6 pieces because the school just isn't pushing it or is it because they don't receive the outside instruction? Most band kids (including my own) are also receiving private lessons outside the school? Is the difference? Fairfax parents push harder outside the school?
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Old 03-16-2012, 02:58 PM
 
Location: DMV
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tysonsengineer View Post
Fairfax has more than just Whites and Asians.

My highschool (Lake Braddock) when I graduated had somewhere in the ranges of 40% white, 20% hispanic, 20% Asian/Middle Eastern, 10% black, 10% other.

Was there a significant asian presence? Sure but no more so than hispanic, middle eastern or black. The key to fairfax isn't racial but rather affluence and the fact that almost all the parents are masters degree or higher (atleast mine were).
Which means that they generally have more money right? Generally speaking whites and asians have more wealth than other races, right?

When you say more whites and asians, it sounds like you're saying other minorities aren't capable of doing well, which isn't necessarily the case. I don't necessarily think that's what you meant, but if I didn't know any better, those are the type of statements that can be misinterpreted as being racist. I'm not accusing you of being one, but that statement can be taken that way

Like ChristineinVA said, it's about the degree of economic and racial diversity that makes the difference. You can even compare some of the 'less affluent' parts of Fairfax and compare it to the more affluent parts and see a difference in school performance. Is it the race or is it the money? Most teachers will tell you students who come from poorer backgrounds come with a host of issues that makes it more challenging to teach them regardless of their race.
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Old 03-16-2012, 03:16 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pgtitans View Post
Which means that they generally have more money right? Generally speaking whites and asians have more wealth than other races, right?

When you say more whites and asians, it sounds like you're saying other minorities aren't capable of doing well, which isn't necessarily the case. I don't necessarily think that's what you meant, but if I didn't know any better, those are the type of statements that can be misinterpreted as being racist. I'm not accusing you of being one, but that statement can be taken that way

Like ChristineinVA said, it's about the degree of economic and racial diversity that makes the difference. You can even compare some of the 'less affluent' parts of Fairfax and compare it to the more affluent parts and see a difference in school performance. Is it the race or is it the money? Most teachers will tell you students who come from poorer backgrounds come with a host of issues that makes it more challenging to teach them regardless of their race.

Actually, tysonengineer said that Fairfax has more THAN Whites and Asians--meaning they are more than JUST whites and Asians, which I agree with. Of course they do, but both of those two populations are fairly domineering in the county, especially in some areas. I don't even like to look at overall county stats but at specific schools, as populations tend to really cluster.

For instance, I believe the total Asian population in PWC is about 6-7%; however, you won't see that in any one school. When my daughter attended Woodbridge H.S., the percentage of Asian students was laughable in eastern Prince William County. Barely measurable. Whereas, it many schools in Fairfax, you will see something like 20-30% of the population. Same with whites in PWC--many of the eastern schools didn't quite hit 50%, but I bet they do in Fairfax. It's just a very different demographic there.
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Old 03-16-2012, 03:22 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChristineVA View Post
Question on this factor: Do you think it is the school that made the difference or was it the commitment of the parents who have spent much time during the child's younger years pushing the musical instruction that would get them to playing level 6 pieces? What I am trying to get at is are PWC students playing less level 6 pieces because the school just isn't pushing it or is it because they don't receive the outside instruction? Most band kids (including my own) are also receiving private lessons outside the school? Is the difference? Fairfax parents push harder outside the school?
Could be a bit of both. One of my kids is in a FCPS HS band program and I've been amazed at the time commitment expected of high school students. The rewards are great for the kids, when it comes time for things like regional competitions and district assessments, but there are times when it feels like the musical equivalent of Texas high school football. The programs demand a lot from both the students and the parents. I didn't participate in band when I was an FCPS student centuries ago, but I never had the impression it was as intense as it is now.

Last edited by JD984; 03-16-2012 at 03:42 PM..
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Old 03-16-2012, 03:30 PM
 
5,125 posts, read 10,041,519 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChristineVA View Post
Actually, tysonengineer said that Fairfax has more THAN Whites and Asians--meaning they are more than JUST whites and Asians, which I agree with. Of course they do, but both of those two populations are fairly domineering in the county, especially in some areas. I don't even like to look at overall county stats but at specific schools, as populations tend to really cluster.

For instance, I believe the total Asian population in PWC is about 6-7%; however, you won't see that in any one school. When my daughter attended Woodbridge H.S., the percentage of Asian students was laughable in eastern Prince William County. Barely measurable. Whereas, it many schools in Fairfax, you will see something like 20-30% of the population. Same with whites in PWC--many of the eastern schools didn't quite hit 50%, but I bet they do in Fairfax. It's just a very different demographic there.
Fairfax is a "majority minority" school district now. About 14 of the 25% high schools are either close to or above 50% white now, but only three of the schools in eastern Fairfax (Langley, McLean and Marshall) fall in that category; the rest are more diverse. One FCPS high school is majority Asian (TJ), five are between 30-45% Hispanic (Annandale, Falls Church, Lee, Mount Vernon and Stuart), and three are between 20-30% black (Hayfield, Mount Vernon and West Potomac).

Mount Vernon and West Potomac are the only two FCPS high schools that are not at least 10% Asian; in that regard they are perhaps similar to the eastern PWC schools such as Woodbridge. Asians are more evenly distributed throughout the FCPS schools than any other ethnic group; with the exception of TJ, Mount Vernon and West Potomac, every FCPS high school has approximately 10-30% Asian students.

Last edited by JD984; 03-16-2012 at 03:43 PM..
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