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Old 01-16-2010, 09:56 AM
 
Location: Renton, WA
1 posts, read 2,905 times
Reputation: 10

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Hello,

first post - I've been lurking this forum for a while (couple of years, since when I was still living in the MidWest), and enjoyed learning a lot about the Seattle area.

We'll be looking at several houses today (my wife did a pre-screen to some yesterday), one in Redmond and a couple in Sammamish. One of the main criteria we're considering at are schools (we have 2 small kids).

My wife likes the Redmond house, but I'm concerned about the Elementary school associated with it, Benjamin Rush. I was looking at the WASL scores for science this year, and it went down from 70% (previous 2 years) to 49% (looking back it seems that 3 years ago it was also 52%). The other scores (Reading, Writing) seem to be fine (in the 80+%)

Is there a problem with the way that science is taught at Ben Rush ? Me and my wife are very technically oriented, so we could try to compensate any education flaws, but still I'm a little bit worried.

On the other hand, McAuliffe Elementary in Sammamish scored 74% in science, and 80+% in the other areas. Is it such a good school as the numbers seem to indicate, or is the school aiming more to "get good WASL numbers" ? I like the Samammish area, and I'm willing to tolerate higher commute times for a truly good school.

Thanks for any insight you may provide !
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Old 01-16-2010, 10:26 AM
 
2,352 posts, read 2,062,590 times
Reputation: 538
Quote:
Originally Posted by pnwkayaker View Post
Hello,

first post - I've been lurking this forum for a while (couple of years, since when I was still living in the MidWest), and enjoyed learning a lot about the Seattle area.

We'll be looking at several houses today (my wife did a pre-screen to some yesterday), one in Redmond and a couple in Sammamish. One of the main criteria we're considering at are schools (we have 2 small kids).

My wife likes the Redmond house, but I'm concerned about the Elementary school associated with it, Benjamin Rush. I was looking at the WASL scores for science this year, and it went down from 70% (previous 2 years) to 49% (looking back it seems that 3 years ago it was also 52%). The other scores (Reading, Writing) seem to be fine (in the 80+%)

Is there a problem with the way that science is taught at Ben Rush ? Me and my wife are very technically oriented, so we could try to compensate any education flaws, but still I'm a little bit worried.

On the other hand, McAuliffe Elementary in Sammamish scored 74% in science, and 80+% in the other areas. Is it such a good school as the numbers seem to indicate, or is the school aiming more to "get good WASL numbers" ? I like the Samammish area, and I'm willing to tolerate higher commute times for a truly good school.

Thanks for any insight you may provide !


I'm gathering you've been to the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction website?

There's some additional comparisons you can do there.

I don't know the 2 schools in question, but here are a few things that we based our decisions upon when we chose our kids' schools.

In addition to test scores...

1. Parental involvement
Frankly there's a good bet that the school with the best scores, has far more parental involvement. That's essential at the Elementary Level. Whether it's parents volunteering in class, getting active in the PTSA and supporting initiatives that supplement programs like music and art or the procurement of add ons for the school,or tutoring special needs kids. This is critical in my view. It sends a strong message to the kids that their education is important.

2. Highly Capable Programs
It's essential that a school serve the community's needs. And the manner with which they do so can really make a difference. Children with special needs should be accommodated too. In our case, our daughters scored in the 95+ percentile (two of the 3) in reading, writing and math. At the time, the Seattle schools offered two programs. One, called APP, was devoted to the top 1% of kids and was specific to Lowell ES in Seattle. The entire school was APP. Now the most convenient since the school was not close to our home. The 2nd program they offered was called Spectrum. This program focussed on the top 5%. Essentially they set up full classes of kids within a grade school that shared a common score set. In essence they were amongst their peers. The underlying value is that the entire cl;ass shared the same curriculum. Kids are far less likely to feel the "different" stigma since everyone on their class is treated the same.

Some schools still use pull outs. That is, they actually pull the child out of the classroom and provide accelerated curriculum for the child. While this can be effective, kids tend to like it less because it does treat them differently.

We have since moved to Bellingham, where they have pull outs. My oldest daughter refused to enter the program in Bellingham for that reason. (She was in middle school at the time)

My youngest is now in MS and she still participates.

3. The Vibe from the Principal
This may sound petty, but it really does matter. Principals set the tone in the building. If teachers are unhappy, it impacts their work. The underlying message here is that you really need to get out and meet the principal. And I would high recommend auditing classes in each of the schools when you narrow it down. And talk to other parents while you're there. You'll be amazed at how this will impact your choices. It was the clincher for us.

4. Art, Music.
These programs are essential in my view Don't discount what they bring to your child. Math, science and reading are obvious, but these two stimulate everything else. Look for an active PTSA that drives these programs.

Good luck!
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Old 01-16-2010, 12:18 PM
 
Location: Duvall, WA
1,677 posts, read 6,498,927 times
Reputation: 639
The websites I use to research schools are School Digger, Seattle Times School Guide (http://community.seattletimes.nwsource.com/schoolguide - broken link) and Great Schools. This might help you compare the schools in other areas, besides just test scores.
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Old 01-16-2010, 01:59 PM
 
7,758 posts, read 14,818,711 times
Reputation: 10411
I don't know much about the schools itself, but its in the Lake Washington School district. Its between the Issaquah SD and the Northshore SD both of which are ones of the best in state. Lake Washington is good, but not as good as those 2 SD. If the 2 schools don't match up to your criteria, maybe broadening the areas so that you can get into these school districts?
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