Monday, March 17, 2008

K Files Council: where to wait list?

I think a lot of people have the same problem, so here goes:

Wait listing: Shoot for the moon or . . . a smaller moon?

Our family lives in upper Noe Valley and hoped to get into an immersion program, but we went 0/7 in Round 1. The school we listed as No. 1 on our list, Alvarado, was massively overenrolled. We also liked two other immersion programs, Fairmount and Flynn, which were also overenrolled but not to the same extent. (In spite of its early start time, Alvarado had the edge for us due to its arts program; our kid is really into art.) Last year's wait pool data indicates that only three people out of 26 in the wait pool received a spot at Alvarado by September. The odds at Flynn and Fairmount were a little better. But Fairmount and Flynn received threefold increases in applicants this year, so perhaps last year's data is irrelevant. Overall, we noted that few families who receive offers to immersion programs in Round 1 give them up. The question is, do we wait list for one of the schools that had a much smaller wait pool last year—and may or may not this year—or do we hold out for the fourth most overenrolled school in the city? We really liked all three programs almost equally, but for different reasons.

51 comments:

  1. I agree that it seems like there is less movement in the immersion programs. I rarely hear of people choosing a public immersion program as their "back-up" when they actually plan to go private.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Does someone have a link to the waitlist info from last year?

    I would waitlist Fairmont, I think the odds would be better.

    ReplyDelete
  3. If you currently don't have a school assignment that you can accept, I'd probably go a more conservative route. If you have a good/adequate back-up you can always shoot for the moon in Round 2 and then change your waitlist school down the road.

    ReplyDelete
  4. so does that mean there's really no reason to waitlist at Flynn? i'm getting so depressed with this process.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Do you suggest waitlisting Fairmount because YOU want to waitlist Alvarado or Flynn? On what do you base your advice? It seems that finally the readers(some) of this blog are waking up and realizing the power it has...

    ReplyDelete
  6. since we're talking about half a dozen spaces on waitlists at the most, for any given school, it is somewhat of a random and unpredictable situation as to which one is a better choice.

    Further postings here could influence parents to choose or unchoose a school, adding more uncertainty.

    I'd say regarding wait list choice, its the hardest question for others to answer. We each have to make our own judgement on this.

    ReplyDelete
  7. If you have the private school in the bag and can afford it, I say shoot for the moon for the publics.

    If you are unsure of sending the child to the private, you should be conservative, and waitlist a public that gives you the best shot.

    ReplyDelete
  8. FWIW, many of the families I know at my child's school (Claire Lilienthal) were not assigned there in Round 1, and several didn't get there in Round 2 either. They were either assigned there over the summer or after the 10-day wait.

    I'm not trying to give people false hope, but just letting you know that things CAN move around, even in popular schools.

    ReplyDelete
  9. If you were planning on using a school's aftercare program, you might consider one that has language instruction. While not as intense as immersion, I would think somthing like Lakeshore's 5 hours/week Mandarin will teach a child starting at age 5 a lot. The Dutch, after all, tend to speak several languages, and they don't do immersion--they just start early in life.

    Henry

    ReplyDelete
  10. i'm realizing something disturbing: having the resources to apply to private school -- and getting accepted at at least one -- affords families the security to waitlist for the most overenrolled publics (and to hold out till september). those of us without backups -- either by getting a poor assignment and going 0/7 in round 1 and/or not applying to privates as "back-up" -- by definition are limited in how much we can risk to hold out for the school(s) we think are best for our child. sad.

    ReplyDelete
  11. call each school you want to waitlist and ask how many of those currently accepted are siblings - they are not likely to move if they are - then you can get a better sense of what the "real" chance might be of a space opening up - i.e. if one has 20 English speaking slots and 15 are filled with siblings and the other school has 20 English speaking slots with 8 sibs, regardless of how many put it on the first round, I would go with the school with fewer sibs - more chance someone will move and a slot will open up. Also, keep in mind that ALL of the immersion programs no matter the language are highly popular regardless of how many people put them on their lists as first.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Regarding the original post..I'm unsure how the writer came to the conclusion that only 3 out of the original 26 on the waitlist got a spot at Alvarado. I've printed the wait pools for May (after round 1) and June..and it seems obvious that there is MUCH movement among the waitpools...so much so that you can't draw these types of conclusions. Take a look at a few schools and the specific numbers in each pool. What do others think?

    ReplyDelete
  13. Kim -- Hedging one's bets is not a public vs private issue. Everyone grabs what they can and holds out for something better. -->Takes Flynn assignment; waitpools Alvarado.... or whatever.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I have to agree with Kim that this system is sad and limits people without a backup (be it private or an acceptable public option). We want an immersion program that we could get to and still keep our jobs, which means AFY or W. Portal. So, we listed those first and then 5 others that we liked in our area. However, we are 0/7 with an assignment to a school that is not geographically viable for us. We can't afford private because we chose shelter and must pay our mortgage instead:-)
    We are now trying to identify a few schools for our round 2 list that we think we can get into. We are probably not going to use our waitlist option to hold out for 1 of our 2 preferred schools, since they are horribly oversubscribed. Instead we will use it for one of the other 5, 2 of which are not so horribly oversubscribed, though all are popular. Then, hopefully, we have some security that we will end up somewhere viable. Of course, this means that we give up the language immersion program. This is a shame because our son is in a bilingual preschool and we know from experience that he would really enjoy the language exposure. The only thing sadder than this is that the proposed budget cuts will probably make it all even worse:-(

    ReplyDelete
  15. I am shocked that people can just plunk down 2,000 bucks for a non-refundable private school deposit and then abandon it when they get a better public school assignment. Do people really do this? It seems like a huge waste of money and an even greater waste of resources - and really is not fair to those who are waiting to fill those precious public spots.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Have you not figured out yet that most of the people posting here are entirely unbalanced?

    They are talking about Kindergarten and acting like any decision they make is the most critical decision they will ever make in their children's lives.

    God help them if they ever are faced with something real to worry about, like cancer or parents with Alzheimers. Get a grip, people.

    ReplyDelete
  17. They start at Kindergarten but unless I am missing something that turns into First grade and then Second through 5th or 8th grade. I know, for me, my academic habits were set by then.
    I agree that it's not the most important decision I will make for my kids, but you can't be suggesting that it is not important at all? And if you are then why waste your time reading this stuff?

    ReplyDelete
  18. To anon at 1:49 pm, given that my child will be there for 8 - 10 hours a day for the next 6 years and it will be very influential in his development, I think that I would be remiss not to take it seriously, don't you? It's not cancer, but it is a big deal.....

    ReplyDelete
  19. If you think we're all unbalanced, perhaps there is some other blog that you can visit, since you are, presumably, not getting anything out of this one. In fact, it seems a tad unbalanced for you to be spending time here.

    ReplyDelete
  20. i agree that the amount of effort we're putting into the school search seems extreme given the true import of kindergarten (not sure i'd call us "unbalanced"...happen to have excellent balance, myself...). i think part of that for me is that i bought the district's sales pitch -- "isn't it fantastic that here in SF you have a CHOICE where you send your kid to school?" -- and now feel like i got gypped (if i don't in fact get to choose my kids' school). it's the classic bait and switch!

    i think i would have laid down like a little puppy at the outset if the sales pitch hadn't overpromised. like, if it was: "this is your school assignment, bitch, and whatever it is, you'll love it! so you go get your kid one of those teardrop tattoos over summer vacay so she'll fit right in and we'll see you in september. over and out."

    i will confess that my husband agrees with you that the time i spend on this blog is evidence of a potential, uh, mental imbalance.

    and to anon about holding out for something better: i can honestly say that i would have happily accepted any of the 7 schools on our list -- and about 7 more. we just didn't get any of those. but i did enroll at j. serra just in case, because it really is a nice place.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Yes we care about the deicision, yes it is important for our children's welfare...and the passion directed in this area also stems from a system which results in a HIGH degree of uncertainty for many people and a loss of control. These are hard things more many of us to deal with. I for one don't appreciate others judging me for the energy and passion I need to invest in this area. So, perhaps the poster who thinks we are over the top has already found a way to peaceful ride this rollercoaster. That is great...for you. And, please don't criticize the rest of us.

    And...personally..the other stinky thing about the system is having to put all of your eggs in one basket at some point in time. We gave it up to the "fates" in Jan to help "determine" which school (of the ones we got to "choose" as part to the choice system) would be best for our child. Now, we face the stress of strategizing for the ammended list..including the all important decision of the ONE waitlist school...yeah yeah..you can change it at anytime, but that does not decrease the importance of selecting ONE.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Yes we care about the deicision, yes it is important for our children's welfare...and the passion directed in this area also stems from a system which results in a HIGH degree of uncertainty for many people and a loss of control. These are hard things more many of us to deal with. I for one don't appreciate others judging me for the energy and passion I need to invest in this area. So, perhaps the poster who thinks we are over the top has already found a way to peaceful ride this rollercoaster. That is great...for you. And, please don't criticize the rest of us.

    And...personally..the other stinky thing about the system is having to put all of your eggs in one basket at some point in time. We gave it up to the "fates" in Jan to help "determine" which school (of the ones we got to "choose" as part to the choice system) would be best for our child. Now, we face the stress of strategizing for the ammended list..including the all important decision of the ONE waitlist school...yeah yeah..you can change it at anytime, but that does not decrease the importance of selecting ONE.

    ReplyDelete
  23. I have found the waitlist after the 2nd round last year. Where is the list that shows the waitlist numbers as of September last year? Can someone post where to find this info.

    I am assuming that these 2 compared would be very valuable in the decision process.

    ReplyDelete
  24. I dunno, I don't think it is fair to call everybody "unbalanced" ...

    it isn't making the choices that drives people nutty, it's: NOT HAVING A CHOICE, or the illusion of choice.

    People say it is great to have "all these choices" but we don't, not really. It would be entirely different if you were guaranteed one of your seven choices, but you aren't. So as much as people hate the idea of this, I think assignment to your neighborhood school, at least for Elementary schools, is what should happen.
    At least then you would KNOW. I would have gladly sent my kid to the closest school to my house (New Traditions) even though it has crummy test scores and the district is always trying to close it, it's a charming, small school and it would be fine.

    And then a few schools with specialty programs could have a lottery system to get into, but a straight lottery system, not this bizarre set of diversity crap.

    So I guess what I am saying is that it is not making the choices that is hard -- it is the powerlessness and LACK OF CHOICE that makes us crazy, well, me anyway :)

    ReplyDelete
  25. You went 0/7 so you would be in the first priority "cohort" for the waitpool right? Last year there were six people (as of May) in the first priority cohort for Alvarado spanish immersion (26 total).

    I would assume the first cohort would be exhausted before moving on to the second right? Can anyone confirm?

    ReplyDelete
  26. To poster 1:49 and the rest,

    I do have cancer and am muddling through radiation treatment as I post. I also have a parent who died last year from alzheimers disease. I mentioned this in an earlier post. I know what those experiences are about. You can't compare life's challenges. They are unique and come with different aches and pains. You can, however, use similar coping strategies to get through all of these experiences. We rage, we grieve, we rant, we get a little crazy and (unless we are really nuts) we find solutions and move on.
    One of my favorite quotes:
    Life has two ways of crushing us,
    by fulfilling our wishes
    and by denying them.
    I think that this blog is living proof of the truth in this quote.
    I hope that we will not be crushed, but strengthened by all of the challenges we face. At least that's how I view it in my radioactive haze.
    I love this blog because it takes my mind off of my own problems!
    Teacher/Parent

    ReplyDelete
  27. just to clarify the waitlist ratio...

    for all of us who went 0/7, we should only look at the waitlist numbers that apply to 0/7 children (who have the highest priority).

    alvarado spanish had only seven 0/7's last year, and three got assigned. Looking at it this way gives one hope!

    ReplyDelete
  28. 0 for 7 is #5 priority in the wait pool, after priorities #1-4 (medical, employee, hardship, sibling).

    It is unclear whether they look for diversity first -- in every pool until they find it. Or whether they exhaust a pool in order of most to least diverse until moving onto another pool.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Just so everyone knows, it is VERY hard to get a medical or hardship priority. All those people who come in with notes from their doctor indicating that the child has motion sickness and must attend Clarendon which is three blocks away, or those whose note says that their child's asthma can only be controlled in the climate at Lilienthal, are turned away.

    ReplyDelete
  30. "Also, keep in mind that ALL of the immersion programs no matter the language are highly popular regardless of how many people put them on their lists as first."

    That's the case for the Cantonese and Spanish immersion programs: less so for the Mandarin programs (for whatever reason).

    ReplyDelete
  31. If it were me, I'd do round two with a balanced (that word again) smattering of schools that I like or am willing to accept, including schools I might not have considered in the pie in the sky days of round 1, and I would waitlist for my absolute #1 school.

    My husband also thinks I am crazy for my interest in this blog, especially since my son is already in kindergarten. Still, it has provided a fascinating forum in which to discuss so many issues around education, urban living, community building. I think it's great.

    ReplyDelete
  32. I am surprised to see little conversation about Monroe SPanish Im program. I thought this was a great little school that was safe, sunny and has a very involved PTA.Any thoughts on this school?I am thinking of wait listing this school.

    ReplyDelete
  33. I did not get much from the counseling session at Jose Ortega, but one useful tidbit is responsive to anonymous at 5:58 on 3/17: Per the EPS guy, when they go to the waitpools (a) they do look first at people who went 0/7 in round 1 (after hardship, special needs & siblings)--one of the reason's it's unwise to list fewer than 7 schools in round 1, and (b) they do continue to look at the diversity factors when they go to the wait pool. If there are five kids in the wait pool and two spaces, they don't just draw names out of a hat. Instead they look first to the person who's profile will best add to the school's diversity. If the kids all are the same on the diversity index (e.g. all speak English at home, go to preschool, don't qualify for subsidized housing or free lunch), then, if I understood correctly, they will draw two names out of the computer hat to decide to whom to offer the available seats.

    ReplyDelete
  34. can someone explain to me why whether or not a kid goes to preschool is a diversity factor?

    ReplyDelete
  35. Part of the purpose of the diversity index is to diversify schools socioeconomically. In general, children who lack access to preschool tend to be poor. (There are not enough subsidized spots to accommodate all who are eligible). They are often at a tremendous disadvantage when entering kindergarten because, besides not learning things kids tend to learn in preschool (shapes, colors, etc.), they also don't know how to line up, sit in a circle, listen to a teacher, etc. Of course there are also well off kids whose parents choose not to put their kids in preschool, and they may benefit from this factor as well, but unless the system is being widely abused I would think most kids who have not attended preschool are in fact poor and otherwise disadvantaged.

    ReplyDelete
  36. I loved Monroe Spanish Immersion and Marshall last year when I toured. My all time favorite was Marshall. I bet it's much easier to get in there than Alvarado, for sure.

    I thought you could waitpool a school, and even if you get it and register there, you can waitpool another school later on. So for example, you could wait pool for a school where you're more likely to get a spot, and if you get it, still put your top school if you wait list again. Of course you would be the person with the leas priority on that list, but you can still list it and hope for lots of luck.

    Can anyone confirm this?

    ReplyDelete
  37. Marshall: Shoo-In for Immersion.
    Anybody who is really set on immersion should seriously consider wait-listing Marshall. The English slots for Marshall did not fill yet, so if you wait list it, you probably have a very good chance of getting it. Remember the wait list is run before round two, and Marshall will probably fill with Spanish speakers on round two. We toured it, visited again, spoke with about half a dozen families and a number of teachers and administrators. It seems like a great little school which is even more off the radar than Revere or Flynn ever was. The school is all immersion and has a credible science focus. The general location is not great, but the school itself really does feel like an oasis of calm and the immediate block is quiet and clean. Please think about joining our family there in the Fall.
    nicole, ellen, bea and lena

    ReplyDelete
  38. Two comments on prior waitpool posts:

    1) re: two posts up...It is my understanding from the Ortega counseling session that you get ONE shot at going into a waitpool. If at some point you're accepted into your waitpool school, you cannot list a waitpool school again - you're assumed to have been placed in your highest priority school. After that you are probably only able to do open enrollment.

    2) re: an earlier post about diversity in waitpools... I left that counseling session under the impression (from one of the EPC employees) that they do NOT look at diversity in the wait pool, but they DO look at attendance area. So within the 0/7 priority waitlist cohort, they divide the cohort into attendance area and non-attendance area, then randomly assign numbers to each of those groups and run the attendance area group first.

    ReplyDelete
  39. Re: wait pool diversity. I asked this question at EPC last week and was told, quote: "for Round II, we just fill slots, period". That is, no consideration of diversity for Rd II.

    ReplyDelete
  40. To add to my partner's earlier Post (J.Nicole): Aftercare & car-pool opportunities will expand if we Bernal folks have a larger presence at Marshall. According to some, single strand lang immersion programs are more successful at immersion, so only Marshall, Fairmount & BV fit this bill. Naturally I am not thrilled with the location, but the small size, "courtyard" set-up and intense involvement of families makes it seem safe. (Many stay-at-home Latina Moms come daily to eat lunch with their kids, and sit in the play-yard keeping watch.) That and the fact that all of the families we have spoken to feel it IS really safe, no incidents. Also, remember that it is easier to transfer into Span Imm if your child is already in a Span Imm Prog. However, of note, none of the Marshall families we spoke to tried to transfer their kid b/c they have been so happy with Marshall. This includes one family w/2 kids who lives right near to Fairmount. Just FYI

    ReplyDelete
  41. I don't think attendance area makes a difference unless you add diversity. My understanding is when they run the wait pools they first look for people within the attendance area who add diversity. But if you don't add diversity, being within the attendance area doesn't give you any advantage.

    ReplyDelete
  42. Can someone clarify why there's so much talk about Marshall for amended apps? I thought it was full - I know someone who was 0/7 and had Marshall on his list. Anyone?

    ReplyDelete
  43. I'm the one who posted about attendance area counting in the wait pool. All I can say is I asked specifically about attendance area at the smaller Q and A with the head of EPC once folks had broken off to talk with PPS reps, etc. and he said that they split the wait list cohort into attendance area and non-attendance area then randomly assign numbers within those two groups. At least that's what I heard - anyone reading this who was there for this question - can you verify or counter my recollection/interpretation of his reply? I thought it was pretty clear and definitive, but I'm doubting everything now.

    ReplyDelete
  44. I'm the one who posted about attendance area counting in the wait pool. All I can say is I asked specifically about attendance area at the smaller Q and A with the head of EPC once folks had broken off to talk with PPS reps, etc. and he said that they split the wait list cohort into attendance area and non-attendance area then randomly assign numbers within those two groups. At least that's what I heard - anyone reading this who was there for this question - can you verify or counter my recollection/interpretation of his reply? I thought it was pretty clear and definitive, but I'm doubting everything now.

    ReplyDelete
  45. I just found it on the EPC website under info on how they prioritize wait pool requests: "Within each of these 10 groups, the attendance area preference is maintained where applicable."

    http://portal.sfusd.edu/template/default.cfm?page=policy.placement.waiting_pools

    ReplyDelete
  46. To 3/25 @ 9:10am, we were told Marshall did not fill with native English speakers so there would be more slots opened for anyone in RdII. (and in years past this was also the case, the native Eng spkr quota has never been met there). Perhaps your friend's kid was a native Span speaker? It's unfortunate in RdII that they do not give priority to native Eng spkers for those leftover seats. That seems totally counter-productive to me, but this is what EPC said. So basically anyone who tries has a chance at those seats in Rd II. It may also be true that w/respect to your friend's kid EPC simply made a mistake - it happens all the time I am afraid.

    ReplyDelete
  47. To the original poster - did you decide what to do? I am interested in what your final strategy was and if any of the comments assisted in your decision making. Best of luck with the next stage.

    ReplyDelete
  48. Regarding attendance area preference, it is my understanding that the preference only comes into play if there is competition between two students who both add diversity to the school: the student in the attendance area who adds diversity will be chosen over the student outside the attendance area who also adds diversity.

    Students who add no diversity to the school never get an attendance area preference.

    Here's what the EPC says on the website: "For schools with attendance areas, applicants from the attendance area will be assigned before non-attendance area students as long as there is space available and attendance area students contribute to diversity as defined by the Student Assignment System. Applications from non-attendance area students are only considered when applicants from the attendance area no longer contribute to diversity."

    ReplyDelete
  49. I think your quote is from the original Round 1 rules, yes? I believe they no longer look at diversity factors in wait pools and amended apps - but do still consider attendance area.

    ReplyDelete
  50. It seems that attendance area is a preference that exists ONLY in relation to the diversity calculation. If you take out diversity calculations, then there is no longer a rule about attendance area preference. Or maybe I missed something. I can't seem to find any reference to attendance area preference without it linking to the diversity calculation.

    ReplyDelete
  51. Someone asked the original poster to follow up -- that's me, so here goes.

    We decided to shoot for the smaller moon (although this moon, Flynn, is still looking pretty big from planet Earth). It's a numbers game, after all, and we wanted the best numbers we could get (and still be excited about the school in question).

    What did other people do? How did you choose which school to waitlist for if you didn't have one clear favorite?

    ReplyDelete