December 15, 2009,
T.F. asks from Hollywood, FL on December 13, 2009
How Do I Find Out If the Elemantary School My Daughter Will Be Going to Is Good?
My daughter is in VPK right now and will be starting Kindergarten next year (2010). I know which Elementary School she would go to (Broward - Panther Run), but there's also a Charter school nearby. I'm not even sure she can get into the Charter school because it works on a lottery system, so I have been told.
Since this is my first child to enter grade school, I feel clueless. I don't know where to go to check on the school to feel comfortable that it's a good school for her. I know all parents feel this way about their child, but I'll say it anyway - she's very intelligent and I want to make sure the gets the best education possible.
Once I find out how to check on the school, what exactly do I look for? Can I ask that she be tested for a gifted program? Do all schools have gifted programs? I feel so clueless here and I should, and want to, know more. Thanks in advance...
UPDATE: Thank you for the initial response. I know I can check out the school online, but I am not aware of specific sites that perhaps review schools or if there's a "score" system...
1 mom found this helpful
L.Z. answers from Miami on December 14, 2009
You can try looking it up on schooldigger.com or greatschools.net, these give results out of either 5 or 10 stars and compare schools nationally. There is a lot of info on these sites, I found them very useful. Good luck!
S.S. answers from Daytona Beach on December 14, 2009
definitely go onto the county school website. if you filter thru it then you should be able to find a parent link. i believe florida schools are required to put up what their "grades" are..as far as fcat scores...reading,writing,science,math....improvements in these area. teacher to student ratio, how many students have free or reduced lunch. also the other poster suggested greatschools.net? they have test scores also and then they compare to other schools in your area. also have parent scores. just a suggestion. if you don't like your school and it is not an "A" school, i believe you should be able to request a variance to another school in your district. but you would have to transport as the buses wouldn't.
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A.M. answers from Lakeland on December 14, 2009
I just want to jump and say that depending on the school district (as you didn't say what county you are from) testing for Gifted can happen in any grade...even Kindergarten. If you feel your child is Gifted, ask for her to be tested. Though as a Gifted teacher myself, I would wait until further in the school year to do this. This will give her more time to get used to going to a new school. Good luck.
J.A. answers from Jacksonville on December 14, 2009
You don't say where you live so I don't know if this will help or not. Here in Duval County go to www.duvalschools.org all schools are listed along with their report cards, test scores, etc... I also know some moms just use this site to ask about a particular school. Contact the school district to inquire about the ESE (gifted) programs, they are also listed on the website.
A.B. answers from Tampa on December 14, 2009
you can go to http://schoolgrades.fldoe.org/ to check out any grades for any school in the state of florida. but a reminder...just because a school is graded as an 'a' doesn't make them good. it just means they have more kids passing state tests, at their levels.
to learn about the school, first just not worry about it the first year. really. having your child their daily, you will learn about the school.....good or bad. and you can decide at a later time to change her for her kindergarten year.
gifted programs usually isn't tested until after the 2nd grade. if you have your children go into a school that works in 'pods' then IF the teacher feels they are indeed 'gifted' they can put them into the more advanced part of the pod of that grade.
basically the most important thing for a pre-k student to learn is the social skills needed for school. they need to learn the basic rules.
if she is as smart as you say, then give it time....and it will happen. don't push TOO hard, or she can get burned out of school before she really starts. i know alot of very smart kids that did amazingly in elementary, even some in middle. then came high school (the important years) and they just stopped. it really is sad.
T.L. answers from Tampa on December 13, 2009
Hi, if you know the name of the school you can look it up on line,check the school grade,programs,etc.I don't think they test for gifted until 3rd grade,but I could be wrong.It also depends on the school if they have gifted classes.Feel free to go visit after doing your online research to check it out during this school year to see how things are run.Be honest,and let them know you are there to see the school.Most schools have school choice where you can enroll out of district,but it's up to you to get them there,so they want to impress.Good Luck
L.Z. answers from Tampa on December 14, 2009
If look up schools in your county you can find the grade information you are looking to find. The ratings are given as letter grades A being best and D not good. It is very hard sending them off to their first year. I just did that with my son and luckily we got a great teacher. You should also ask for a tour of the school so you can get a feel for the principal and the other administrative staff. If you are left feeling comfortable and the schools grades are good then you will know you are making a good choice.
T.F. answers from Orlando on December 14, 2009
Haven't read the other responses so sorry if I repeat
Speaking to your neighbors is your #1 best bet. They will tell you not only the pros and cons of the school, but which teachers to ask for and which to avoid. Most parents don't know they can request a teacher. My feeling on it is if you go out of your way to ask for a specific teacher, the principal can either give you who you ask for or listen to you complain all year about a teacher you don't like! I always write an email every summer to the principal. Find out what is good about a specific teacher and approach it that way... like say your daughter is already reading then say that you would like a teacher such as Mrs. So-n-so who is very academic and will challenge your daughter. As for gifted, all schools have to offer services, but if your child tests for gifted and the school doesn't have enough gifted kids, they may send her one day a week on a bus to a neighboring school. You would have the option to opt out, but I would ask if they stay at the school for it. Not sure if it's different in your school district or if it's a whole state thing, but they couldn't test my daughter until the beginning of 1st grade because they have to be 6 for the test to be accurate and her birthday is over the summer. As for a school's "scoring" system, the state of FL gives school grades, which are 100% based on FCAT testing of 3rd through 5th graders. If a school is an A or B, you're fine-- if they are an A+ and have been an A for several years, those are the best schools because they get extra money for having and maintaining an A so they usually use that money to make the school even better. If the school is a C or lower, I would look into why by scheduling a meeting with the principal or assistant principal and see what they have to say.
Many schools do an orientation and tour for kindergarteners-- in my area (Central Florida) they do it at the end of the school year for next year's kindergarteners. They spend a couple of hours with a K teacher where they actually get to have breakfast in the cafeteria (with you of course) and get a tour of the school and get a chance to ask questions and see a basic day in the life of a kindergartener. Find out if your local school does that and mark your calendar so you don't miss it. Seriously, though, you need to speak with your neighbors who have school age kids and find out everything you can about the school.
S.W. answers from Miami on December 14, 2009
Hi Dear, call to make an appointment with the Pincipal and teacher, school counselor, etc. Perhaps they are holding an Open House that you can meet other parents at. Like any other business, "word of mouth" is one of our best networking tools.
Absolutely ask for testing for "gifted" and/or advanced classes.
Montessori is a fabulous method of teaching. Look into it.
But it's private and expensive, so take advantage of all the public schools have to offer.
God bless and best wishes, S.