Author Topic: How good of school is good enough?  (Read 2008 times)

LearningMustachian72

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How good of school is good enough?
« on: September 24, 2019, 09:50:45 PM »
Hey!

I am wondering what peopleís thoughts are on neighborhood price/school ratings trade off?

I live in a semi convenient neighborhood now but want to move closer to the city in roughly 5 years which is when my kids would be of school age.  My current neighborhood elementary rating is 5/10, middle school 7/10, high school 7/10.

I would like an affordable house in the city but see that you either pay much more for a neighborhood in the city with good schools or sacrifice a bit on the schools.

Any thoughts on this? Do ratings even really matter?

Thanks in advance for sharing your experiences!

RFAAOATB

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Re: How good of school is good enough?
« Reply #1 on: September 24, 2019, 10:28:15 PM »
Iíve heard that parents are a better indicator of success than the schools for economically better parents.  Meaning going to a worse school than you can afford wonít lower test scores too much, while poor kids going to a better school than they can afford get a test score boost.

That doesnít take social measurements into account.  I would be wary of going to a school with too high a percentage of low performers and troublemakers, even if it didnít necessarily mean lower test scores for your kid.  Do you want your kids friends picked from that pool rather than from a pool of high performing families?

What Iím concerned about is, does this matter for elementary school as much as high school?

Tom Bri

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Re: How good of school is good enough?
« Reply #2 on: September 25, 2019, 02:22:21 AM »

The rating of the school by itself doesn't matter much, but the REASON for the rating can matter a lot. Is the school full of gangs and violence? Or is it just that it has loads of new immigrants who score lower because they don't speak English well but are otherwise decent kids?
I'd look more at the neighborhood crime stats rather than the school rating.

former player

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Re: How good of school is good enough?
« Reply #3 on: September 25, 2019, 04:15:10 AM »
If you want to spend the next 10 or 15 years hothousing your child towards Harvard then school matters.  If your kids have special needs school matters.  Otherwise you need your kid to be safe (from both gangs and bullies, hopefully) and it is the attitude you and your partner express in your every day actions (ie what you do and how you live, not what you say) towards learning, towards reading, towards being a good and competent human being, that matters the most.

elliha

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Re: How good of school is good enough?
« Reply #4 on: September 25, 2019, 08:01:50 AM »
My guess as a teacher is, your kids are most likely going to be fine in that school especially if you as a parent is also prepared to go the extra mile and support and encourage extra learning if there are areas that are not as good as you would like. I don't mean semi-homeschooling or anything like that but help the kid understand things that the teacher didn't explain well enough, take some time to guide them with home work, read to them, give them experiences (anything from going to the forest/sea/park to museums to trips in the area or longer vacations). See if you can visit the school or talk to a teacher there and get a feel for it. Often people can get a good sense of what the school is like if you contact it and learn about it with an open mind. I see no reason that the school could not be good enough for your kid just from the rating itself but if you know of serious problems with it even as a person who doesn't have students there I would be less optimistic.

MissNancyPryor

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Re: How good of school is good enough?
« Reply #5 on: September 25, 2019, 08:18:15 AM »
We bought our first house in a really awful neighborhood.  When the first baby arrived we knew we had to get out and deliberately researched which was the best public elementary school in the city and actively looked for the cheapest house in that area and then moved up slowly to higher value real estate which was absolutely boosted because the public schools are outstanding.

It has made all the difference in my opinion.  The neighborhood parents were involved all along, with perhaps a higher % of stay at home moms available to volunteer and monitor the village.  There was music education and diversity, with doctor's kids attending alongside some inner city kids.  Test scores are tops in the state and the kids are exposed to things they never would have had in other schools where basic discipline is a huge daily distraction.  These advantages combined with our parental attention and support to the kids (as other posters have mentioned) absolutely mattered.

So not only did it make all the difference for our kids it helped me achieve FIRE status because the property values continue to be above all others in town.  That is why I still choose this neighborhood now that my kids are out of college. 

Aelias

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Re: How good of school is good enough?
« Reply #6 on: September 25, 2019, 09:23:13 AM »
The teachers I've spoken to say that the emphasis parents place on education and the non-monetary resources they're able to devote to education (enriching activities, reading at home, engagement at school, etc.) matter more than school ratings, which tend to primarily measure the wealth of the families in the district. At least one said that she'd observed that some teachers in lower performing schools have better pedagogical methods because they have to work harder to reach their kids and can't just rest on getting a class of all highly privileged students with highly engaged parents who are probably going to do well regardless.

We had a lottery in our district and lucked out by getting our son into our first choice school.  We picked it primarily because it was far and away the most conventiently located.  Sort of in the middle on test scores -- I ruled out the highest testing school because they were the only school without an ESL program, and I just didn't like that on principle.  We've been super happy with it.  My younger son is in a lower performing school for Pre-K because his brother's school doesn't have a Pre-K program.  We're pretty happy with that too, and, frankly, the lower performing school makes lots of accommodations for working families because there's not this assumption that everyone has at least one stay-at-home / flexibly employed parent (which I've noticed in my older son's school). 

We do want to try to get the younger son into the older son's school for Kindergarten, just because it's more convenient.  But if we can't?  I think we'd have to strongly consider moving the older son into the lower performing school. I'm that confident that both schools are fine.

Ynari

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Re: How good of school is good enough?
« Reply #7 on: September 25, 2019, 02:24:37 PM »
I work at a middle school that gets a 5/10. I'd send my kids there (if I had any). The staff is incredible. There are 6 STEM related after school programs offered (to the point where I feel like I have to compete to get kids to Math Club!), as well as drama and art and improv and creative writing and board games and GSA and karaoke and who knows what else.

Our school mostly gets dinged for equity (hey - that's this year's main administrative initiative!) which can really suck, and the tracking that goes on is very... bubbly. The "gifted" kids never have a reason to be in a class with the recent immigrants (we have a sizable population) who speak very little English, and that's a shame. There are kids here that go on the to super-magnet high school and then to Ivy educations. Most graduate and go to in-state or community colleges, but there are also kids who go through the culinary or mechanic programs at the neighboring high school. It's pretty cool.

There are things to improve, and it might be worth a parent of a student with particular needs to do some comparison between us and the neighboring schools. But the neighboring school with higher test scores and a massive math club that always wins competitions gets worse scores on equity. The test scores weigh out, so they get a 7/10. The other nearby middle school, which has the most intensive special ed program around, gets a 3/10 because, again, test scores. For the most part, a typical kid will have a similar experience in all 3 schools, so I'm a bit baffled how the range is so wide.

TLDR: Ignore the ratings. Talk to parents, teachers, etc., for actual information.

mm1970

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Re: How good of school is good enough?
« Reply #8 on: September 26, 2019, 04:39:09 PM »
Elementary: 2/10
Junior High: 6/10
High school: 8/10 (prob, not there yet)

My kids are doing fine.  The lower scores are due to English learners, disability, and poverty, not gangs or indifference.

In fact, we are transfer students in Elementary.
9 years ago when we transferred:
Home district school: 1/10
School we x-fered to: 6/10

Now:
Home district school: 3/10
School we are still in: 2/10

What happened??  Why does our school suck, and the other one better now?
Not much.  The school we are districted to has been improving, yes.  That is good.
The school we are in has not changed much at all (scores also going up).  That is good.
Why the drop from 6 to 2?

Because Great Schools changed their grading criteria to ding you hard if you have wide disparity in sub-groups, the achievement gap.  So if our English learners score much worse than the English only kids.  They didn't use to use that as a criteria, they do now.
Why is our "home" school a 3?  Their test scores are LOWER than ours (the "2"), but they have very few English Only kids, too few to be statistically significant, so there is no "achievement gap".

Villanelle

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Re: How good of school is good enough?
« Reply #9 on: September 27, 2019, 12:54:56 PM »
We bought our first house in a really awful neighborhood.  When the first baby arrived we knew we had to get out and deliberately researched which was the best public elementary school in the city and actively looked for the cheapest house in that area and then moved up slowly to higher value real estate which was absolutely boosted because the public schools are outstanding.

It has made all the difference in my opinion.  The neighborhood parents were involved all along, with perhaps a higher % of stay at home moms available to volunteer and monitor the village.  There was music education and diversity, with doctor's kids attending alongside some inner city kids.  Test scores are tops in the state and the kids are exposed to things they never would have had in other schools where basic discipline is a huge daily distraction.  These advantages combined with our parental attention and support to the kids (as other posters have mentioned) absolutely mattered.

So not only did it make all the difference for our kids it helped me achieve FIRE status because the property values continue to be above all others in town.  That is why I still choose this neighborhood now that my kids are out of college.

I've always wondered about RE in great school districts.  "Buy in a good district as you'll be able to resale for higher when the time comes" is one of those very common things.  Do they actually appreciate at a faster rate than those in mediocre or bad school districts?  Otherwise, this "wisdom" doesn't seem to make much sense.   If I can buy for 20% less in the "bad" area, then I'm okay selling for 20% less in the future and I'm probably just as well off (assuming I invest the rest and that those investments grow at roughly the same rate as the RE). 

Chris Pascale

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Re: How good of school is good enough?
« Reply #10 on: October 06, 2019, 08:49:18 PM »
7/10 sounds pretty good to me, especially for kids whose parents are the kind who ask if it's good enough.

If you can afford to have your kids in schools that (A) don't fail the state requirements and (B) don't qualify for a program like Troops to Teachers, then you're doing very well by your kids.

My town has very good public schools that I personally find to be overrated. They're good, but the people in my community are a little too impressed. For instance, if it's so great, why aren't the top 5-10 kids of each graduating class heading to ivy league schools? Last year's valedictorian/salutatorian are at out-of-state schools that didn't even make the top 25 nationwide. I'm not some educational elitist, mind you. My kids are going to community college. But what I'm saying is that even in a town like mine with "the best" schools, they're not going to be that great.

What your kids need are parents like you who love them enough to ask if you're doing enough. And then they need some friends to make memories with. And some ideas for what makes someone a good person so they can be people they are proud of, who you like.

Chris Pascale

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Re: How good of school is good enough?
« Reply #11 on: October 06, 2019, 09:12:54 PM »
We bought our first house in a really awful neighborhood.  When the first baby arrived we knew we had to get out and deliberately researched which was the best public elementary school in the city and actively looked for the cheapest house in that area and then moved up slowly to higher value real estate which was absolutely boosted because the public schools are outstanding.

It has made all the difference in my opinion.  The neighborhood parents were involved all along, with perhaps a higher % of stay at home moms available to volunteer and monitor the village.  There was music education and diversity, with doctor's kids attending alongside some inner city kids.  Test scores are tops in the state and the kids are exposed to things they never would have had in other schools where basic discipline is a huge daily distraction.  These advantages combined with our parental attention and support to the kids (as other posters have mentioned) absolutely mattered.

So not only did it make all the difference for our kids it helped me achieve FIRE status because the property values continue to be above all others in town.  That is why I still choose this neighborhood now that my kids are out of college.

I've always wondered about RE in great school districts.  "Buy in a good district as you'll be able to resale for higher when the time comes" is one of those very common things.  Do they actually appreciate at a faster rate than those in mediocre or bad school districts?  Otherwise, this "wisdom" doesn't seem to make much sense.   If I can buy for 20% less in the "bad" area, then I'm okay selling for 20% less in the future and I'm probably just as well off (assuming I invest the rest and that those investments grow at roughly the same rate as the RE).

You'll pay a premium for it because fear and greed drive the market.

2 towns near me are experiencing some issues right now because 2 other school districts that have had repeated problems may be getting closed down, and possibly bused into those schools. Because my town supposedly won't get any of those kids, and was also known to be a little bit better to begin with, RE prices are going pretty high - too high, IMO.

But those higher RE prices you can later cash in on aren't so likely to benefit you all that much. After all, taxes are higher. Also, so many people fall to social pressure to buy dumb things, like a better driveway, or to buy into the "right" street in the great school district. And who can blame them? You moved here so your kids can have it better. The key is to decide where you draw the line, because you can always find better.

mm1970

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Re: How good of school is good enough?
« Reply #12 on: October 08, 2019, 12:57:13 PM »
7/10 sounds pretty good to me, especially for kids whose parents are the kind who ask if it's good enough.

If you can afford to have your kids in schools that (A) don't fail the state requirements and (B) don't qualify for a program like Troops to Teachers, then you're doing very well by your kids.

My town has very good public schools that I personally find to be overrated. They're good, but the people in my community are a little too impressed. For instance, if it's so great, why aren't the top 5-10 kids of each graduating class heading to ivy league schools? Last year's valedictorian/salutatorian are at out-of-state schools that didn't even make the top 25 nationwide. I'm not some educational elitist, mind you. My kids are going to community college. But what I'm saying is that even in a town like mine with "the best" schools, they're not going to be that great.

What your kids need are parents like you who love them enough to ask if you're doing enough. And then they need some friends to make memories with. And some ideas for what makes someone a good person so they can be people they are proud of, who you like.
Maybe they got better scholarships from those schools, or it is a better fit?

charis

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Re: How good of school is good enough?
« Reply #13 on: October 08, 2019, 01:04:50 PM »
7/10 sounds pretty good to me, especially for kids whose parents are the kind who ask if it's good enough.

If you can afford to have your kids in schools that (A) don't fail the state requirements and (B) don't qualify for a program like Troops to Teachers, then you're doing very well by your kids.

My town has very good public schools that I personally find to be overrated. They're good, but the people in my community are a little too impressed. For instance, if it's so great, why aren't the top 5-10 kids of each graduating class heading to ivy league schools? Last year's valedictorian/salutatorian are at out-of-state schools that didn't even make the top 25 nationwide. I'm not some educational elitist, mind you. My kids are going to community college. But what I'm saying is that even in a town like mine with "the best" schools, they're not going to be that great.

What your kids need are parents like you who love them enough to ask if you're doing enough. And then they need some friends to make memories with. And some ideas for what makes someone a good person so they can be people they are proud of, who you like.
Maybe they got better scholarships from those schools, or it is a better fit?

Lots of high-ranked students don't go to the best school they can get into, many would rather take a full ride to a "lesser" school, and might be limiting themselves to a certain geographic area.  Not comparing myself (as I didn't get in), but I was waited listed at an expensive Ivy league school, and thank my luck stars for that now because I went to the place that gave me the most money.

waltworks

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Re: How good of school is good enough?
« Reply #14 on: October 10, 2019, 01:40:03 PM »
Assuming a totally average kid (ie, not super motivated/bright, nor lazy/dumb) I think there are basically 2 scenarios:
-Parents work a lot and lean heavily on school for all academics and some life/character instruction as well - you'll want very good schools.
-Parents very involved with kids education and have lots of time to spend with kids - school can be pretty mediocre and it's fine. I mean, you don't want to be somewhere where your kid is going to get stabbed if they don't join a gang - but otherwise, any halfway decent school will work.

-W

lisabobisa

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Re: How good of school is good enough?
« Reply #15 on: October 11, 2019, 06:23:30 AM »
I was curious, so I looked up the rating to my school at greatschools.org

1/10

Why? No college readiness, low test scores, and no AP courses.
Why? We are a specialized separate school for students with disabilities who are on a modified curriculum.  Parents don't choose our school for the AP Courses, but for the specialized knowledge we have of their students.

Moral of the story: Don't trust the school grades =)

Cpa Cat

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Re: How good of school is good enough?
« Reply #16 on: October 11, 2019, 07:20:15 AM »
I think there are limits. I did a couple of seminars for Grade 6 kids and in one school, the kids completed the workbooks fine. In the other, we had to skip entire sections because they didnít have access to calculators and several students had ESL helpers who left ďto go smokeĒ for an hour, so those kids couldnít participate due to language barriers. The schools were in the same city.

In school 1, the teacher was engaged. In school 2, the teacher joined the ESL helpers for a smoke. Due to lack of supervision, a couple of kids were disruptive. In the end, the kids in school 2 completed only half (and the kids with language barriers completed 0 percent).

Personally, I donít want my kids in the school that only ever completes half the lessons.

I donít believe the in paying for private school, but I would try to get into the best public school I could. Ask other parents about their experiences instead of relying on online grading though.

Cgbg

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Re: How good of school is good enough?
« Reply #17 on: October 13, 2019, 07:53:42 PM »
Iíve never regretted moving into our school district. Iím still not sure that I love my house, but I donít think we will be moving from here ever.

I waited the spring before until my oldest was ready for kindergarten to pay attention to the school district our kids would attend. I started looking around, found this little district in our town and Dh found a house we could afford.

Itís the best public school district in town. We didnít want private schools- that didnít really line up with our long term financial goals. So we paid a bit more for a crappier house in the best district.

All the parents here expect their kids to go on to college. Some kids in my sonsí classes went to Ivies, some went to service academies and some to community college. My kids took full rides to state universities, both out of state.

I think they wouldíve been fine if weíd stayed in the other district, but I doubt they wouldíve progressed as fast as they did as there were serious limitations put in place in the bigger school district compared to the one the boys attended. The money we wouldíve saved on the mortgage wouldíve been spent on university instead. Now the kids can take their 529 plans and save them for their kids.

Iím sure my kids were worried that the state universities would be too easy but theyíve been plenty challenged. The one thatís likely to stay in a academia has had plenty of research opportunities. Theyíll both end up with engineering degrees and no debt.