Monday, September 29, 2014

Hello From Confused (but hopeful) Parents From Pac Heights!


Hi there SF K File Readers!

We are excited to start our year long journey to find and get accepted in the right school for our Small Fry. It seems these days we are lurking on this site and/or attending school tours. The talk all around is about K and K search ;) 

Before sharing the journey here, we wanted to introduce ourselves. We are your typical asian couple; raised in a solid educational foundation, middle class values and strong work ethic. Our parents drilled a love for arts and sports only as a means to "round" off our personality and not to become sportsmen or artists.  To them, that would have been too risky (in terms of employment)! 

We were raised outside US and hence are unfamiliar with schools and school systems here. Having lived here in US for a decade and having attended grad school here makes us value US education system. And we hope our Small Fry will learn to value it as well. 

We recently moved to SF and are now thrown in these tricky waters of unified school system and choice. It seems we settled him into a preschool not too long ago and here we embark on K search again. We currently live in Pac Heights but are open to moving closer to the school once we get accepted to aid with day to day life with kids. Oh, and we also have a Tiny Fry who will benefit from all this research and learning when its time!

Like most parents, we love our Fry but we don't know what kind of education styles will suit him. Also he is a late summer baby so we are torn between red shirting him or not. Our Asian background dictates we should send him to school and let him be. Modern parenting sensibilities want us to give him time to mature. So we are exploring public schools, private schools, parochial schools. Alternate Schools and Traditional Schools. We are exploring Arts curriculum and Science focused schools. 

Our hope is to understand more about education options and what kind of education we want for our Fry alongside of shortlisting schools and getting accepted in a school. 

There are a few things we know for sure:
  • We don't care about immersion schools. 
  • Arts is good but we need solid science/maths foundation 
  • We don't care for a trophy school. Neither of us attended one and we turned out OK. 
  • We definitely need after care. But don't necessarily want to fills afternoons with a bunch of activities. 

We have a few schools that we plan to tour/ have toured already. I will post my thoughts on them soon. I won't be posting statistical information ( like class sizes, school hours, extended care options etc ) unless there is something that stuck with me. That is something that can be easily googled anyways. I will be posting information on PTA and participation, school leadership, how the parenting community looked like to me, whether kids were engaged in various classrooms etc. 

Here is a list of schools that we are touring. We are casting our net wide and are working our way through this process.Hopefully we will have more clarity as December approaches.

1. Public Schools: Claire Lilienthal, Peabody, Sherman, Alvarado, Spring Valley 
2. Private Schools: Presidio Hill, Bright Works, Presidio Knolls, Adda Clevenger, Alt School
3. Charter Schools: Creative Arts, Thomas Edison, New School 
4. Parochial Schools: St. Brigid, Stuart Hall for Boys, St. Vincent De Paul

Looking forward to your  feedback, advise and encouragement via comments! 

Best,
Confused Parents

Thursday, September 18, 2014

A New School Year Means...Seeking New Bloggers! Updating School Tour Info!

It's September in San Francisco. There's finally warm weather, the apples are crisper and more delicious, and it's almost time for Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, And that means it's time to warn your boss that you'll need to take some time off and get ready to run into your friends and neighbors on a bazillion school tours! We'll start updating the info on the website as soon as possible (click on the buttons that say SFUSD School Tours and/or Charter School Tours above the blog posts). Please feel free to share any information you've received about tours in the comments as well.

We'll also start reminding you about an important upcoming date: October 25, 2014. That is the date for the SFUSD enrollment fair. This year it will be held at John O'Connell High School, 2355 Folsom Street, from 9:30 AM to 2:30 PM.

Finally, Fall means we are looking for a new class of bloggers! If you are looking for kindergarten (or another grade 1-5!), middle school, or high school and would like to share your experiences with others, please send an email to kfilesblog @ gmail.com and we will set you up to write up your tours and document your decision-making process. We would love to hear from a lot of parents, so please write in, even if you can just weigh in on a few tours.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Reader Request: Share Your Experience With Spring Transfer?

A reader has written in to ask if folks would mind sharing their experience with the lottery for spring transfer. This reader has a child in kindergarten at her attendance area school, Harvey Milk, but she is thinking about applying for spring transfer to another school. Originally, she hoped to get her kid a spot at West Portal, but now she is thinking about Peabody. So, how about it folks? Did you apply for the spring transfer round in recent years? Was it a success? Any words of advice?

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Reader Request: Chances of Getting SFUSD Mandarin Immersion in K vs 1st grade?

A reader sent in this question:Our older child has been attending a Chinese immersion preschool that continues to elementary. We will be considering Kindergarten options for this coming year. Our family is very interested in the Mandarin Immersion programs at Starr King and Jose Ortega, but may put off placing our older child in the public school system until 1st grade, primarily to allow a younger sibling access to a spot in the preschool program.Spots at the preschool are in pretty high demand. 

Therefore, I'm wondering whether our chances of a SFUSD Mandarin Immersion program in 1st grade are a lot worse than for Kindergarten. If we ultimately want to be at either Starr King or Jose Ortega's programs, would it be foolish to wait out the Kindergarten placement process in the hopes that there will opportunities to enroll for 1st grade? We are assuming that our child will place as bilingual in both Mandarin and English in the language placement test.

Parents of students in SFUSD Mandarin immersion, what's your take on openings in first grade vs kindergarten for a Mandarin-speaking student?

Chances for K vs 1st grade are unknown for 2 reasons:
  1. For the purposes of the SFUSD lottery, Mandarin-speaking (MN) and and English-only (ME) are separate, mutually exclusive programs. SFUSD doesn't break down requests for Mandarin Immersion by Mandarin-speaking (MN) vs. English-only (ME) applicants.
  2. Openings in first grade are completely dependent on students leaving the program after kindergarten. I can tell you that for Korean immersion this year, all of last year's kindergarteners returned, so no 1st grade spots opened up.
         With three classes for Mandarin immersion, the chance of a student leaving is higher. However, a Mandarin-speaking (MN) kindergartener would have to drop out. An ME student leaving wouldn't help. As you can imagine,students who already speak Mandarin are probably less likely to drop out.
Below is a summary of total requests (MN and ME) for Mandarin Immersion for the last 3 years.
Starr KingTotal
requests
1st
choice
2nd
choice
3rd
choice
2014
   K19053167
   1st grade4100
   2nd grade1100
2013
   K17941245
   1st8311
   2nd1100
2012
   K149461518
   1st4200
   2nd2020


OrtegaTotal
requests
1st
choice
2nd
choice
3rd
choice
2014
   K224343513
   1st13431
   2nd1000
2013
   K173332213
   1st5300
   2nd1100
2012
   K155282214
   1st11421
   2nd1100

Sources for First Round Requests 2012-2014: 
http://www.sfusd.edu/en/assets/sfusd-staff/enroll/files/2014-15/request_report_2014-15.pdf
http://www.sfusd.edu/en/assets/sfusd-staff/enroll/files/2013-14/2013-14_requests.pdf
http://www.sfusd.edu/en/assets/sfusd-staff/enroll/files/2012-13/Requests.pdf

Historically, Starr King has had more Mandarin-speaking (MN) spots for it could fill, but this may be changing. In 2013, the list of open spots after Round 2 included openings for Mandarin speakers at Starr King for K and 2nd grade (but not 1st grade). However, in 2014 after Round 1,  King had no open Mandarin-speaking spots for kindergarten. Some spots probably opened up in later rounds since King had no waitpool for Mandarin speakers in any grade on the June 2014 waitpool list.

A first grade spot is less likely to open up at Jose Ortega, which is more popular and has fewer spots than King. Total requests for Mandarin immersion at Ortega increased 45% from 2012 to 2014, compared to 28% for King. Waitpools have been consistently larger for Ortega.

For 2nd grade, the chances look better because only Mandarin speakers can be admitted for 2nd grade and up. In the past 3 years, there's only been 1-2 "top 3" requests for 2nd grade Mandarin immersion. However, depending on the spacing of your kids, you may lose sibling priority for your younger child by waiting until 2nd grade for the older child.

My own opinion is that if you want SFUSD Mandarin immersion and get a kindergarten spot, take it. The younger child will get sibling priority for Mandarin Immersion K-5, which will matter more than 1-2 years of preschool in developing language proficiency.

Parents of students in Mandarin immersion at JOES or Starr King, what are your thoughts?

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Request from a Reader: Information on Tule Elk Park TK

A reader writes in that her family just got a spot for their child at the Tule Elk Park Early Education School (http://www.sfusd.edu/en/schools/school-information/tule-elk-park.html). She's looking for any feedback from families with children there now, or insights from parents who might have had a chance to tour. Anyone with good information out there? Thanks in advance...

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Data: More Maps on Kindergarten Demand and Capacity

 As we wait for the end of the 10-day count/Round 5, here's a few more maps on kindergarten demand and capacity.









What AA schools are NOT wanted by their AA residents?

The next two maps show AAs where that people, include AA residents, overwhelmingly don't want to attend. They doesn't tell you anything about which schools that AA residents want to attend. That's because the maps include total requests, AA and non-AA, as a percentage of AA residents.  However, when the number of first choice requests is only a small percentage of AA residents, that means that few AA residents want their AA school.

A better map would have been the percentage of AA residents who listed their AA school in their top 3 choices. This was as close as I could get with the available data.


Total 1st choice requests from all applicants (AA and non-AA),as a percentage of AA residents

Total top 3 choice requests from all applicants (AA and non-AA), as a percentage of AA residents






Monday, August 18, 2014

Openings at your child's school (Kindergarten or otherwise!)

As some parents are anxiously waiting to get calls from SFUSD and get off the waitlist for their dream school it seemed a good time to start a dialogue regarding any openings at your kids school.  Please feel free to post and share if there are openings at your school; what grade, what program, etc.

Good luck all!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Data: Attendance Areas' Residents per Kindergarten Seat

The discussion about Clarendon AA got me thinking about attendance area schools and what their real capacity is.

I've always found SFUSD's map below to be an odd way of looking at AA capacity. To calculate AA capacity, it uses all kindergarten seats that are geographically in the AA, including citywide programs.   For Clarendon's AA, which contains Alice Fong Yu and Rooftop, this is clearly misleading. (Source: SFUSD's 3rd Annual Report on School Assignment, page 39)

Below is the capacity for each attendance area, based on AA seats alone, and an edited map. Who's the most screwed? Residents of Webster, Cleveland and Monroe AAs, each with over 100 residents and just 22 AA spots. None of these AAs are CTIP1, so they have no priority elsewhere.


Edited:  Kindergarten applicants living in each attendance area relative to
kindergarten capacity of attendance area seats
Do attendance areas have the capacity to accomodate Kindergarten residents? Map.

SCHOOLS WITH AA RESIDENTS  > 200% of AA SEATS, 2013-14

SCHOOL AA Resident
% of AA seats
AA residents  AA
seats
Citywide programs
in AA (seats)
Approx
how much
of the AA is CTIP1?
Webster 651% 143 22 ImmS (44), Carmichael (SB 22, FB 22, GE 44)
Cleveland 594% 131 22 SB (44)
Monroe 506% 111 22 CB (22), ImmS (44), SF Community (33),
Moscone 465% 102 22 CB (22), SB (22), Marshall (ImmS 44) All
Bryant 422% 93 22 SB (22) Almost all
Carver 402% 177 44
All
Serra 396% 87 22 SB (22)
Drew 364% 160 44
Under 1/4
Sutro 354% 78 22 CB (22),
Lilienthal (ImmK 22, GE 66)

Harte 354% 78 22 ImmS (22) Almost all
Starr King 324% 71 22 ImmM (44) Almost all
Flynn 293% 129 44 ImmS (44),
Revere (ImmS 40, GE 20), 

Visitacion Valley 284% 187 66 CB (22) Half
Malcolm X 270% 54 20
Almost all
Taylor 265% 117 44 CB (44), SB (22)
Alvarado 262% 115 44 ImmS (44) A few blocks
Clarendon 260% 114 44 JBBP (44), AFY (66), Rooftop (66)
Longfellow 260% 114 44 SB (22), FB (22?)
Hillcrest 244% 98 40 CB (20), SB (20)
Chavez 219% 96 44 SB (44), Buena Vista (60),  Almost all
Parks 208% 83 40 JBBP (40) Half
Muir 206% 41 20 SB (20) Half


SCHOOLS WITH AA APPLICANTS BETWEEN 120-199% of AA SEATS, 2013-14

SCHOOL AA
Resident
% of
AA seats
AA
 residents 
AA
seats
Citywide programs
in AA (seats)
Approx
how much
of the AA is
CTIP1?
Glen Park 198% 87 44 SB (22), Fairmount (66)
New Traditions 195% 86 44
a quarter
Sheridan 180% 79 44

Tenderloin 177% 117 66
Half
Sanchez 171% 75 44 SB (22) a quarter
Parker 164% 36 22 CB
Milk 161% 71 44
Under 1/4
Stevenson 158% 104 66/88* Lawton (66)
McCoppin 147% 65 44 CB (22)
Miraloma 144% 86 60

Argonne 141% 93 66/88*

El Dorado 141% 93 66

Sunnyside 135% 89 66

Ulloa 129% 85 66 CB (22)
Guadalupe 129% 85 66 SB (22)
Alamo 129% 114 88

Ortega 128% 56 44 ImmM (22)
Spring Valley 123% 27 22 CB (22), SB (22)
Lau 120% 53 44 CB (66)
Cobb 120% 53 44

* Argonne and Stevenson alternate between 66 students one year and 88 the next.
   In 2013, both schools had 66 students.


SCHOOLS WITH AA APPLICANTS  < 120% OF AA SEATS, 2013-14

SCHOOL AA
Resident
% of
AA seats
AA
 residents 
AA
seats
Citywide programs
in AA (seats)
Approx
how much
 of the AA is
CTIP1?
Lafayette 119% 105 88

West Portal 119% 78 66 ImmC (33)
Garfield 118% 26 22 ImmC (22)
Wo 116% 51 44

Grattan 115% 76 66

Sherman 113% 75 66 Montessori (44)
Jefferson 113% 99 88

Peabody 111% 49 44

Sloat 106% 70 66

Key 99% 87 88

Sunset 87% 57 66

Feinstein 85% 75 88

McKinley 82% 54 66 CIS (66)
Redding 82% 36 44
a quarter
Chin 76% 17 22 CB (22)
Lakeshore 69% 61 88


Total K seats
2666
AA seats
1826 
citywide seats

CB - Chinese biliteracy pathway, for native Chinese speakers
SB - Spanish biliteracy pathway, for native Spanish speakers
ImmC - Cantonese Immersion
ImmM - Mandarin Immersion
ImmS - Spanish Immersion
JBBP - Japanese Bilingual Bicultural Program
FB - Filipino FLES
How the numbers were calculated:
AA applicants =  % from the SFUSD map x the number of seats at all schools in the AA
AA Resident % of AA seats = AA applicants/AA seats



Sources: 
Five year Demand Comparison - 2005-2010 - for K-12 schools that used to be on PPSSF's Historical Demand page, enrollment  data from Dataquest, and the size and racial breakdown of schools' individual K classrooms from California Department of Education's Staff and course data.
CTIP1 area for AA:  Above map and the revised CTIP1 areas from the 8/2013 post of Rachel Norton's blog.


Why so many citywide seats and so few AA seats?

Language pathways account for 80% of these citywide seats and a third of all kindergarten seats. Of the citywide seats, only 40% are open to monolingual English speakers: about 340 general education seats at Montessori and K-8 schools, and 400 seats for JBBP, Filipino FLES, and English-only speakers in language immersion.

Why so many language pathway seats? 

Three words: Lau v. Nichols.

In 1974, in this landmark civil rights case, the Supreme Court ruled that SFUSD was violating the civil rights of 1,800 monolingual Chinese students by teaching only in English, without any special effort to help them learn English. SFUSD agreed to provide bilingual education as part of the Lau consent decree.  The effects of this ruling are still with us today in the Lau Action Plan

SFUSD still has many students whose first language is not English, and as of 2009, it was still being monitored by the Department of Justice to make sure it was in compliance with the Lau consent decree. 

Next up:  Racially homogeneous elementary schools. Looking at the latest K-2 data, the number of elementary schools with over 60% of their K-2 enrollment from a single ethnic/racial group has declined by 5 in the last 2 years. 

Monday, August 11, 2014

Last Call: Round 5 Best Bets

The August 8, 2014 wait pool list for SFUSD is out. Here are the schools sorted by the ratio of waitpool applicants to kindergarten seats.  The deadline to change your wait pool school is August 15.

The big news: the Argonne wait pool has cleared.  Clarendon and Miraloma AA residents, have hope! Last year both schools had enough spots for the AA residents left in the waitpool for Round 5, in part because of students not allowed to enroll because of address fraud. At Clarendon, one kindergarten seat didn't fill until January. Correction: Clarendon's AA waitpool did not clear, although there were quite a few AA applicants who were offered spots during the first 10 days of school.  But it did look like Miraloma's AA waitpool cleared. 

2014-15 WAIT POOLS as of 8/8/2014

The number of kindergarten seats per school/program are based on SFUSD's reported number of seats per school for Round 1 and enrollment by grade from DataQuest. For the language programs, I assumed a ratio of 9 English to 13 target language spots.

General Education

No waitpool/possible openings (bold indicates that the waitpool has cleared from Round 1): Argonne,  Bryant, Carver, Chavez, Cleveland, Drew, El Dorado, Flynn, Garfield, Harte, Lau, Malcolm X, McCoppin, Muir, Parker, Redding, Revere, Serra, Sheridan, Spring Valley, Starr King, Tenderloin, Webster, Vis Valley.

School Prg Wait
Pool
  Kindergarten
  Capacity 
Waitpool
as a %
  of K Seats
GUADALUPE GE 1 66 2%
CARMICHAEL GE 1 66? 2%
LONGFELLOW GE 2 44 5%
ALAMO GE 2 91 2%
PARKS GE 1 44 2%
LAKESHORE GE 3 88 3%
STEVENSON GE 3 88 3%
ORTEGA GE 2 44 5%
SANCHEZ GE 1 44 2%
LAFAYETTE GE 4 88 5%
MILK GE 3 44 7%
NEW TRADITIONS GE 3 44 7%
ULLOA GE 5 66 8%
FEINSTEIN GE 8 92 9%
SUTRO GE 2 22 9%
KEY GE 8 88 9%
SF COMMUNITY GE 3 33 9%
CHIN GE 2 22 9%
GLEN PARK GE 4 44 9%
JEFFERSON GE 9 90 10%
WEST PORTAL GE 7 69 10%
HILLCREST GE 5 40 13%
YICK WO GE 5 44 11%
LAWTON GE 9 67 13%
MCKINLEY GE 11 69 16%
MIRALOMA GE 10 60 17%
ROOFTOP GE 12 69 17%
MONROE GE 4 22 18%
MOSCONE GE 4 22 18%
PEABODY GE 8 44 18%
SUNSET GE 13 67 19%
SLOAT GE 13 66 20%
SUNNYSIDE GE 13 66 20%
LILIENTHAL GE 14 66 21%
SHERMAN GE 17 67 25%
ALVARADO GE 12 44 27%
MONTESSORI GE 6 44 14%
GRATTAN GE 19 67 28%
TAYLOR GE 15 44 34%
CLARENDON GE 21 44 48%


FLES (Foreign Language in Elementary School)

School Prg Wait
Pool
  Kindergarten
  Capacity 
Waitpool
as a %
  of K Seats
LONGFELLOW FB FB None 22 -
CARMICHAEL FB FB None 22? -
PARKS JBBP JB 2 40 5%
CLARENDON JBBP JB 12 44 27%
FB= Tagalog, JB=Japanese


Cantonese Immersion

English spots
School Prg Wait
Pool
  Kindergarten
  Capacity 
Waitpool
as a %
  of K Seats
GARFIELD CE None 9 of 22 -
WEST PORTAL CE 3 13 of 33 23%
YU CE - monolingual English* 13 44 of 66? 30%
CIS CE 9 27 of 66 33%
YU CT-not monolingual English 14 22 of 66? 64%
* For Alice Fong Yu, CE refers to students who only listed English as a home language on their application. Students who listed any language other than English on the application are considered "CT."

A glowing review of Garfield from an English speaking parent can be found at
http://www.greatschools.org/california/san-francisco/6370-Garfield-Elementary-School/

Cantonese spots
School Prg Wait
Pool
  Kindergarten
  Capacity 
Waitpool
as a %
  of K Seats
GARFIELD CN None 13 of 22 -
CIS CN None 39 of 66 3%
WEST PORTAL CN 7 20 of 33? 35%
CN=passed the Cantonese proficiency test.

CIS has no wait pool for Cantonese proficient spots, so more English spots may open up in Round 5.

Mandarin Immersion

English spots
School Prg Wait
Pool
  Kindergarten
  Capacity 
Waitpool
as a %
  of K Seats
STARR KING ME None 18 of 44 -%
ORTEGA ME 8 9 of 22 89%

Mandarin spots
School Prg Wait
Pool
  Kindergarten
  Capacity 
Waitpool
as a %
  of K Spots
STARR KING MN None 26 of 44 -
ORTEGA MN 3 13 of 22 23%


Korean Immersion

School Prg Wait
Pool
  Kindergarten
  Capacity 
Waitpool
as a %
  of K Seats
LILIENTHAL English (KE) 4 9 of 22 44%
LILIENTHAL Korean (KN) None 13 of 22 -


Spanish Immersion

English spots
School Prg Wait
Pool
  Kindergarten
  Capacity 
Waitpool
as a %
  of K Seats
HARTE SE None9 of 22 -
MARSHALL SE None 18 of 44 -
REVERE SE None 16 of 40 -
FLYNN SE 3 18 of 44 17%
MONROE SE 4 18 of 44 22%
FAIRMOUNT SE 6 27 of 66 22%
BUENA VISTA/MANN SE 10 24 of 60 42%
ALVARADO SE 9 18 of 44 50%
WEBSTER SE 10 18 of 44 56%

Harte, Revere and Webster have no wait pool for Spanish proficient spots, so more English spots may open up. For those considering Harte, a glowing parent review is at: http://phile.com/user/SweetMedicine

Spanish proficient spots
School Prg Wait
Pool
  Kindergarten
  Capacity 
Waitpool
as a %
  of K Seats
WEBSTER SN - 26 of 44 -
REVERE SN - 24 of 40 -
HARTE SN - 13 of 22 -
FAIRMOUNT SN 1 39 of 66 3%
FLYNN SN 2 26 of 44 8%
MONROE SN 2 26 of 44 8%
BUENA VISTA SN 5 36 of 60 14%
ALVARADO SN 4 26 of 44 15%
MARSHALL SN 8 26 of 44 31%

Never Say Die Strategies

For Round 5, the percentage of students who register but don't show up on the first 3 days of school varies by race/ethnicity. Of the kindergarteners who registered for a spot and did not show up on the first day of school, 40% were white.  Kindergarteners of "Other" race/ethnicity were the most likely not to show up to their kindergarten assignment (35%),  followed by White kindergarteners (25%), non-Chinese Asians (17%), and Latinos and African Americans  (13%). Chinese applicants are the least likely (11%).

This suggests that if you have the fortitude to hold out until the last day to get in off the wait pool, your chances will be higher at, say, Lilienthal than at Alice Fong Yu.
Source: SFUSD First Annual Report on Student Assignment for the 2011-12 School Year, 3/5/2012