Friday, July 2, 2010

Hot topic: First grader and higher

This from a reader:
There are some families reading your site who have been hoping for new first grade (and higher) assignments. While I am sure many of us are happy with our current schools, my family would like to try for a better fit.

Much upper grade shuffling will take place the first week of school, but could you please make a hot topic for first grade (and higher) families? I wonder who else is out there and what their wait lists look like.

22 comments:

  1. No movement all summer for our 1st grade wait pool. Albeit, it is a fairly short waitpool, only 8 total, but considering it's a trophy school, no movement. At all. Reconsidering switching waitpools, but I really REALLY want this school for us.

    Right now we're commuting my daughter into Daly City from SF because we moved mid-year and didn't want to pull her from her DC kindergarten. Now I don't want to continue commuting south and would prefer an SF school, but I'm really holding out for our top choice. Ah, I wish things were easier!

    Best of luck to everyone else!

    ReplyDelete
  2. We were also applying for first grade.

    Pretty slim pickings.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Folks looking at transferring in upper grades, I just managed to move two kids from one poor performing school to Commodore Sloat. Darn hard, but we got the eldest in in Round 2 and just got the younger one in in Round 4. I tried several times in years passed, but this year finally worked. Things I did differently: 1) watch this site to get a sense of the "in" schools versus the "out" schools; 2) change their waitpool school (I did it twice!) --there are some good schools that have lots of movement on wait lists because they no longer have "buzz" even though they are absolutely wonderful (like, for example, Lakeshore and Commodore Sloat; and 3) talk to a live counselor (I went down five times over the past six months and found one who was sympathetic to my situation).

    ReplyDelete
  4. There is some movement now and some right before school in first grade. If you can, do some research about what schools tend to have openings in first grade. Usually these are schools that tend to have significant proportions of students going to parochial school (students who miss the age cut-off for kindergarten and who do a first "free" pre-k in a public school before doing a second one in catholic school) or a significant population moving out of town.

    Last year, there were ten (10!) spots in Feinstein for first grade (10 students left for catholic school)--we got one of those spots, and we had friends that got into Lilianthal, where there was also some attrition. I'm sure there are other schools with similar demographics...

    Good luck!

    ReplyDelete
  5. We are hoping to transfer into a language immersion program. Small-ish wait list on May 28, but who knows now? We are going to stay with the wait pools and see what happens. Very frustrated the SFUSD June 30 list isn't posted. Might go to EPC Tuesday and ask.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Anybody else know of schools where kids leave K spots for catholic K, like Feinstein? We are in ok K for this coming year but will try the lotto again next year for a 1st G closer to home. Is it mostly West side schools that see this movement?

    ReplyDelete
  7. I know it doesn't help b/c the waitlists seem long, but we have pretty significant movement at every grade at Grattan every year. Some families leave the city or change schools, but a chunk of our families also are international, at UCSF for fellowships, etc. and they usually go home after a year or so. Off the top of my head I'd say we lost 5 or 6 of our Ks from last year and that seems consistent with years prior.

    ReplyDelete
  8. In Starr King MI a couple of kids moved over to CAIS after kindergarten last year and one family moved to China - not sure if there will be this many spots again but worth checking if you're interested in immersion.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Sort of off Topic - What if child attends a K-8 span school and we want to take her out to attend a school like Aptos - does anyone know if our child has less a chance in given lottery?
    I'm concerned about GATE, as most parents are, or lack there of at the school she will attend. I'm fearful that she WILL be left behind because school she's attending has problems...

    ReplyDelete
  10. Question about going thru the assignment process after K. If we are in an okay K this year, but want to try for our neighborhood school next year, do we loose our spot at our current school just by entering the lottery? We'd like to go to the school 2 blocks away but if we can't get it again for 1st G next year then I'd at least want to keep our K school that is far away. I know it all changes next year so maybe no one knows.

    ReplyDelete
  11. 6:53 pm -- although the traffic is generally the other way there are families that leave the k thru 8s and go to the bigger middle schools. Generally they leave because their kid wants more extracurricular activities (band, orchestra, serious sports teams) not because of academic issues. I do not want to pry, but I am wondering which k8 your kid is at. Most have great academic prigs. Before doing anything I would seriously tour the big middle schools. Each has a significantly different approach to GATE/Honors class admittance and you may find it difficult to get whatever Honors class you want. As far as your odds of getting in, the new assignment system may change things for you. Aptos will now have a bunch of k5s where the fifth graders will automatically get in --they will get letters in the fall of their fifth grade year. They can then go into the assignment System and try to get better, all while holding that Aptos seat. This may make it harder for someone like you to get in.

    ReplyDelete
  12. @10:14

    If I were in your shoes, I would only list the school that you would choose over your current school for next year's lottery. I'm not sure if each listed school, if chosen, overrides your current school, but I have a feeling it might. Therefore, you probably wouldn't want to risk getting into a lesser desirable school for you by filling up all 7 slots with random schools, but instead with schools you might consider as well as your neighborhood school.

    ReplyDelete
  13. 10:50
    I'm not so sure "the traffic is usually the other way around" with families going to K-8 in middle school. My kids will both be at Aptos next year and I know many kids that left K-8 for a 6-8 middle school (schools include Rooftop, Alice Fong Yu, Lillenthal, and Creative Arts Charter, that come to mind.)

    Most of the kids I know left because they wanted a bigger school. This includes leaving because of lack of elective options (band, orchestra) and also because they just wanted to get away from the same smaller class of friends. I know quite a few that left CAC because they felt the middle school wasn't academically where they wanted it to be for their kids.

    While in our K-5 elementary, there was usually one kid every year (out of 60) that left for a K-8 after the 4th grade. A few actually ended up transferring to 6-8 middle school once they saw that 6-8 can provide some broader experiences.

    As for our family, when my oldest was a preschooler I really liked the idea of a K-8. Now, for both of my kids, I'm really glad that wasn't the option for us. My oldest LOVES Aptos and what makes it wonderful is all the music options - both Jazz Band and orchestra - that it offers. He also really likes the bigger school - more friends (all of which I've been very pleased with.)

    I'm happy to report that his friends that attend the other 6-8th grade middle schools all feel they are at the perfect middle school for them and are very happy as well.

    So, for all the newcomers, middle school is working out very well for just about everyone that I know.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Apart from CAC, which is imploding as we speak, the k through 8s are virtual impossible to get into. And while some kids do well in the big middle schools, many do not. This is EXACTLY the reason Rachel Norton gave for approving the new Gateway middle school charter. I am glad Aptos is working fine for you. But for many, many kids, the big middle schools leave them floundering. My kid is up this fall for middle school. We will be putting down the k through 8s but not expecting any miracles. Gateway and edition and cac (if it pulls itself together) will be our most likely destinations.

    ReplyDelete
  15. The big middle school thing depends so much on the kid. Some flounder horribly with the big classes and lost-in-the-shuffle feeling while others thrive on the varied opportunities. The June 30 wait pools for 6th grade show a few schools everybody seems to want and several schools with no wait pools at all. Interesting . . . . Given the raging hormones and general upheaval at that age, it's crucial to get the best situation you can for your kid.

    If you have a first grader, none of the wait pools seem hopelessly large except AFY and Rooftop. There seems to be more wait-pooling in second grade. Maybe people who hung with private for K and 1 hoping the economy would improve are realizing they can't hold out any more. That's our position.

    ReplyDelete
  16. 8:48 - The Aptos mom here,
    I agree that there is no 'one size fits all' school.

    But speaking from experience, I find that what parents think their kid needs in the way of a middle school when their kids are in kinder or first often changes. I thought my kids needed one then at one point, then changed my mind (actually, THEY changed my mind!)

    If you are fortunate to have a 4th or 5th grade teacher that really knows your child, that's always a big help. We were lucky to have that kind of a teacher that really knew my son - she advised some kids to the smaller middles for specific reasons. She helped me see that my son would really benefit from bigger with more stuff to do.

    I love it when teachers can help you see new sides of your kids - I've been very fortunate to have this for both kids.

    ReplyDelete
  17. 1:48 pm -- My kids are not kindergarteners. They are in fifth and fourth grade. They DEFINITELY would not do well in one of the big middle schools. Our eldest's fourth grade teacher has told us that clearly. And we see the younger one in the same camp. Nothing is going to change in the next 12 months on that. I don't get what it is about the large middle schools that seems to blind some parents -- if it works for them, it must work for everyone. If you are expressing concern, then you must be one of those overprotective parents who coddles their kid. As for getting in to a K-8, we have tried and tried to get our kids in through a transfer -- and failed EVERY time. Yes there are a few openings in sixth grade. But no one I know has ever gotten one of them. My guess is that the district gives those few slots to folks new to the district -- either those coming from private school or those moving in to SF. Indeed, the only person we know who has EVER gotten their kid into Rooftop moved here in late June last year and got into Rooftop for seventh grade by mid-July! And I'm not whistling alone here. Rachel Norton specifically voted for the Gateway middle school charter because of the lack of small school slots in SF. For us, Gateway, Edison and CAC (with the hope that the latter two will get their act together) will be at the top of our list for Fall 2011. And we will not be alone. The Gateway middle school petition in support had 200 fourth grade families say they wanted their kid to go there! This is for a program that will have at most 100 kids in a grade.

    ReplyDelete
  18. San Francisco Community School is a K-8 small school by design, they may have openings.

    ReplyDelete
  19. 2:44 p.m. has some logic. If you want a big middle school, there are lots of spots to fill. If you don't it is extremely difficult. Perhaps that is why a lot of Private schools open up another class in 6th grade, knowing that big middle schools are not an option for some kids. I wonder, however, how the new assignment system will impact kids from now on. Since they will be tracked to a middle school with those they went to school with for 6 years the transition may be a lot easier for some, rather than others.

    ReplyDelete
  20. 7:58 -- this may have a very slight effect, but probably not significant. The kids who struggle at the big middle schools are not the socially-ill-at-ease. They actually do really well at them. Think about it --400 kids in a grade and there's GOT to be someone who connects with that kid. The ones who struggle are the ones who need a little more help academically and the ones who need more structure and support to do well academically. These are the kids who disappear into the woodwork academically. They may be socially well put together. But put them in the huge classes at a big middle school and they find themselves falling behind. I actually have a theory that the reason so many middle class parents are vociferous in support of the big middle schools is that their kids for the most part are incredibly smart, incredibly good self-starters with varied extracurricular interests but who are way too quirky socially to fit into a smaller school environment.

    ReplyDelete
  21. I think 11:27 nailed it. If your kid is quite bright and confident and has strong academic self-motivation, a big middle school will probably be a great place for him/her because there will be plenty of academic challenges, and if the kid is a bit out of social mainstream, more opportunities to make friends. If your kid is not a self-starter academically but can get along well with other kids and has academic potential, a smaller middle school with more academic support will help him/her stay on track. For a very shy kid, a school with a culture that emphasizes kindness and teamwork can be a real blessing in facilitating friendships and enjoyment of school . . . and such schools do exist (though of course the school's efforts have to become less obvious to the students by middle school).

    Our kid's reports say that he's charming, bright, has deep friendships, and responds well to teacher guidance, but he lacks initiative and is a follower. I can't imagine him succeeding in a big comprehensive middle school.

    ReplyDelete
  22. There's always movement in the summer. I just heard from a family in my son's class that they're leaving San Francisco. If you're interested in a 1st grade spot at Argonne, looks like one might be opening up.

    ReplyDelete