Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Reader Looking for McCoppin Feedback

I noticed in the comments a parent whose child is headed to McCoppin, but it's unclear if they got to tour and it sounds like they have yet to hear much, either good or bad, from current parents. So I thought I'd make a separate post inviting feedback on McCoppin specifically. I noticed some pretty positive reviews on Greatschools, so I'm hoping there's someone out there who can reassure this parent that there's a lot to feel good about at McCoppin (of course, I'm sure any negative info would be helpful as well).

More generally, I was thinking now might be a good time for parents who have found (either through a tour or enrolling a child) a "hidden gem" to share what was such a pleasant surprise to them and why. I used the phrase "hidden gem" but I'm hoping people can just describe why a school was a surprise for them and not criticize one another by saying that such and such a school is not a hidden gem at all--that just doesn't seem useful.

For me, one surprise came just a few weeks ago when I ended up on an impromptu tour at Thomas Edison Charter Academy (TECA). We were offered a spot off the waitlist and I didn't know much about TECA, so it was hard to have to make a quick decision. Ultimately we decided to stick with Sunnyside because we're really excited about everything going on there. But I was pleasantly surprised by the really warm and welcoming tone of the school at TECA and definitely tempted by the K-8 and Spanish immersion. The person who was supposed to give me a tour ended up calling in sick that day, so the office person called in someone he described as a cafeteria worker to walk me around. Well, she turned out to be the coordinator of the lunch program (which is separate from the program offered by SFUSD) and a part-time office manager and she gave a great tour. She knew all of the teachers and as she led me around the classrooms, she filled in me on details, including why one teacher's room seemed more sparsely decorated than another (that teacher was about to go on maternity leave so had packed up most of her materials already) and how long different teachers had been with the school and in what grade. She walked me past some middle school classes that looked interesting and we got to see the yard, which if I understood correctly is staffed all day by Playworks staff. She also took me to a guitar class (I think it was for third graders) that blew me away. The teacher (who unfortunately is moving out of state this summer) told us that the class is provided in collaboration with a program called Little Kids Rock (http://www.littlekidsrock.org/) and it's been a huge hit with the kids. They learn to play guitar but they also get a chance to try out songwriting and I saw a group of totally engaged kids each working on their own songs. I also got to see a duo perform an original--that was amazing!

But as I said, we decided to stick with Sunnyside. I am starting to understand why some schools can go down a waiting list pretty quickly once it gets into summer--it can be hard to think about switching from an option you are starting to get to know a little to one that it is a big unknown.

Any other surprises out there?

22 comments:

  1. I looked at Edison for middle, but ultimately passed on it two years ago. Like you, I was very impressed by the enthusiasm of the new "management" there. I felt that, in a couple of years, things could really turn around. And, having gone through the middle school process :(, I can say a K through 8 is really worthwhile. My sense is that Edison really should be a gem, and it just requires a critical mass of middle class parents to get in there. Did you get the sense that middle class parents were now enrolling in Edison?

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  2. formerly optimisticJune 4, 2013 at 12:36 PM

    Thanks Sunrise Sunset!

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  3. Hello? It is feedback on McCoppin not TECA that is asked for.

    Reader Looking for McCoppin Feedback

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  4. I think she(he?)repeated and amplified your request re McCoppin, but then said "More generally, I was thinking now might be a good time for parents who have found (either through a tour or enrolling a child) a "hidden gem" to share what was such a pleasant surprise to them and why."

    Then she described her experience re TECA,as an example of a pleasant surprise. Perhaps the title of the post was misleading, but it probably will get more information for you specifically about McCoppin than if it had been titled "Share News About Pleasant Surprises"



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  5. Some info from the web:

    McCoppin's PTA's tax ID number, or EIN, is tax ID number, or EIN, is 94-6184085. Their McCoppin's last Form 990 was for 2009-2010, accessed via the Office of Attorney General's Charity Research Tool. They raised $37k, spent $26k on classroom and educational supplies and 8k for library materials, gardening project, and computer lab. For the other years, the PTA filed a Form 990-N that says that they raised under $50,000.

    According to their website, they are in the process of switching to a PTO. PTOs are independent and don't have to pay membership dues or abide by the bylaws of to the state and national PTA organization.

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  6. When I toured, the principal made comments about how the PTA used to be really strong but now he's looking to build new relationships. I kind of want to know - why that precipitous API drop last year? It seems to not be just one grade or one class, either. So what happened after their seemingly strong gains? Their library and librarian were very nice. Their building is exactly the same as Peabody's - no indoor space except classrooms.

    What I'd love to hear from current or past parents or anyone who knows anything - what are the teachers like? How well does the PTA work? Are lots of parents involved? Does the no-hallway thing work out okay? Do the days when kids spend all day indoors (because there's no cafetorium of any sort and it's, say, raining outside) happen a lot? How are they handled?

    Why is McCoppin such a dark horse? No one seems to even know it exists.

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  7. I drive by McCoppin every day on my way to our school. This is from a couple of years ago and I have no idea if it's true, but I remember reading a comment that McCoppin focuses on its Chinese bilingual ed program leaving the general ed strand something of a neglected stepchild. Not to be confused with language immersion, a bilingual program seeks to get children whose home language is not English up to speed in English. I would not expect many SF K Files readers to be looking for or enrolled in a Chinese bilingual program. Also, in general, not many posters seem to have inside knowledge of schools in the Richmond. Those both might be reasons you're not hearing much about McCoppin. It's population is about 2/3 socioeconomically disadvantaged and 60% English language learners.

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  8. I have also heard that the parent community there is almost nonexistent.

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  9. In any bilingual ed program, you do often have non-English speaking parents/guardians - meaning, they aren't online at the SFKfiles jabbering it up...

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  10. For comparison's sake, Peabody is less than 1/3 socioeconomically disadvantaged and less than 1/4 English language learners. With some exceptions, usually in schools with even larger Asian immigrant populations than McCoppin, test scores follow money and English proficiency.

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    1. That is not true. You are misinformed.

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    2. About which fact? Got both off SFUSD's SARC reports for 2011-12.

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  11. Part of it is true about percentages of low SES and ELL. But please explain what you mean by test scores follow money. The schools with the largest budgets per pupil have the worst test scores.

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  12. I don't mean per-pupil public funding. I mean family money. There are certain schools (John Yehall Chin is a good example) that defy the usual pattern and have outstanding standardized test scores despite very high percentages of socioeconomically disadvantaged students and English learners. The schools that defy the norm are almost always heavily Asian, which I believe reflects a combination of family culture and teaching approach. But the norm is that the highest standardized test scores are found at schools with smaller percentages socioeconomically disadvantaged students and English language learners. It's true in the SFUSD trophy schools and it's true in Marin. If SFUSD and Marin public schools suddenly traded populations, I'd bet my house that SFUSD's scores would go up and Marin test scores would go down--by a lot.

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  13. And now I know why SFKfiles discussions had seemed kinda reasonable to me before. - I just wasn't subscribed to the comments!
    Thanks for the info SFGeekMom, and cheers to the moderators.

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  14. I can't answer specifically why McCoppin's test scores went down; however, in small schools, one or two kids testing extremely high or extremely low can really impact those test scores.

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  15. Even more than test scores, I wonder why McCoppin's enrollment drops so significantly between kindergarten and 5th grade. A lot of elementary schools, even so-called "trophies," experience some enrollment drop in the higher grades, but McCoppin goes from 61 in K to 37 in 5--a big drop. Do McCoppin students transfer to other schools after their English gets better? Sorry for the parent who asked the original question that there is so little info on this school!

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    1. I took a look at the enrollment data for McCoppin from 2006-07 to 2012-13. The numbers are below, but like the CST scores, not very illuminating. Families assigned to McCoppin may have better luck emailing their newly established PTO at mccoppin.parents@gmail.com.

      McCoppin has a lot of variation in its year-to year kindergarten enrollment. For example, there were 38 kindergarteners for 2010-11, vs 61 kindergarteners for the following year. The 2012-13 2nd grade and 5th grade sizes are small because the kindergarten cohorts were small. There hasn't been significant attrition for those years.

      For the larger kindergarten cohorts, most notably the kindergarten classes of 2011-12, 2009-10, and 2008-09, there has been significant attrition, typically between kindergarten and first grade. For example, 61 kindergarteners started in 2011--but only 53 first graders the following year.

      Most of the attrition appears to be Asian and white students. No significant difference between the attrition rate of whites vs Asians, but the numbers are small. No significant attrition among Latino students.

      Overall, the percentage of Latinos at McCoppin has increased slightly and the percentage of Asians has decreased slightly over the past few years. K-2 enrollment for 2011-12 was 57% Asian, 15% Latino, 11% White, 9% Multiracial.

      Good luck to everyone, and let us know if you find any more info.
      Source: California Dept of Education, Dataquest

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    2. FWIW I did email the PTO and got no response. If anyone out there did better, let me know please?

      Thanks for all the research, SFGeekMom!

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    3. Hey, maybe there _are_ parents from McCoppin reading this blog! I just got a response :)

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  16. Where is the info for the current test scores? All I can find on the SFUSD website is for '11-'12, '10-'11, and '09-'10, and there's a stable to upward trend for those years at McCoppin...right? What am I missing? Thanks...

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    1. http://star.cde.ca.gov/

      FWIW, I took a look at McCoppin's CST scores for the last 3 years, and can't see a reason for the drop either. It looks like McCoppin significantly underperformed its demographic across the board, including Asian English Language Learners, in 2012, reflected in the 2012 Similar Schools rank of 1 (from 7 in 2011). The demographics are essentially the same.

      In general, I think it's better to look at CST scores over 3 years, and take the average, unless there's a strong trend over those 3 years.

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