kitchen table math, the sequel: momof4 on Westchester County's missing private school

Thursday, April 8, 2010

momof4 on Westchester County's missing private school

It sounds as if there might be a market in Westchester County for a private school that stressed real phonics, spelling, grammar, composition, high-quality fiction and non-fiction, real (Singapore etc.) math, serious content across all disciplines (CK or Wise Bauer's classical), explicit teaching to mastery, homogeneous grouping by subject, immediate help for struggling students and allowing/encouraging acceleration. With the existing demographics, I'd think kids would soar to great heights with that kind of program (without outside tutoring!) and class sizes could probably be larger than at public schools, with no problems.
That's what I've been wondering. That's why I asked the question about cheap private schools.


TerriW said...

You know, it poses a funny thought for me since that is, essentially, what I'm providing with our home school. And so I have to ask myself: if that was available in my area, would we choose to send our kids there instead of homeschooling?

My husband and I have had a few interesting conversations about this sort of thing -- since we homeschool for academic, rather than religious or social, reasons -- we have to put our money where our mouth is, so to speak. We need to provide a better education than what is available "out there" -- and the proof will be in the pudding to see if our gamble paid off.

Or maybe this is on my mind because my oldest has her yearly standardized test this afternoon. Heh. And she took it last year, so we'll have a delta to look at: just what *did* we learn last year, in our first "official" year of schooling?

Catherine Johnson said...

Hey Terri - Which test are you using?

TerriW said...

We currently use Peabody. It's an oral test, the licensed test-taker comes to the house and it takes about an hour or so. I think it is structured like those new-fangled computerized tests where what your next question is depends on how you responded to your last question. We did it last year, as well, and seems to be a particularly good fit for younger kids.

TerriW said...

OK, you'll just have to indulge me for a moment, because, hey, I'm a mom. I get to brag a little. We got our Peabody results.

Our traditional method-taught Kindergartener's grade equivalence:

Reading Recognition: 5th grade, 6th month
Reading Comprehension: 8th grade, 1st month**
Math: 4th grade, 0th month
Spelling: 4th grade, 2nd month

** She said possibly even higher, A. was starting to get bored and fidgety as they kept going and going and didn't want to answer any more questions.

So, THANK YOU Singapore math and Math-U-See combo, and THANK YOU traditional phonics!

Catherine Johnson said...


How old is your daughter?

Also - do you want to tell us the results from last year's test so we can see how much progress she made in one year?


TerriW said...

Catherine -- she's six.

I don't have her exact grades from last year in front of me, but from memory, she went up almost 2 years in Reading Recognition, 3 years in Reading Comprehension, 2 years in Math and almost 4 years in Spelling. Also, I didn't mention "General Knowledge" above, it's supposed to be an amalgam of Science, Soc. Studies, etc -- she went up 3 years in that, to 4th grade, 9th month. (And a "Thank you!" shout out to Sonlight, which provided a good chunk of the general knowledge bump this year.)

Last year was our first "official" year of schooling so we had her tested at the beginning of the year to get a baseline to see how much she learned during that year.

Apparently, a whole heck of a lot.

TerriW said...

And, again, I apologize for the prideful mom-puffery here, but ... well, you guys know how this is. The choices you make for your kids *are* a gamble -- and homeschooling is a big one.

As Andrew has said -- sending your kid to public school is the educational equivalent of "Nobody ever got fired for buying IBM." So we're -- and especially me -- sticking our necks out here. And the stakes couldn't be higher -- our children's education! -- if we lose.

So high standardized test scores? Yeah, that's a huge deal to me.

And it's a big relief because it solidifies my husband's support for our choice. As the tester said to him, the school wouldn't have any idea what to do with A. if she was a Kindergartener this year. Well, any ideas that taught her academics, at least.

Laura said...

class sizes could probably be larger than at public schools, with no problems.

I was just thinking about this, but from a school-choice perspective (while reflecting on Steve H.'s comments about choice).

One of the plans my district floated for dealing with budget cuts was a "Princeton Plan," in which the 4 school zones are merged and kids are grouped into schools by grade, rather than zone (except that the savings are thought not to outweigh busing costs).

I'm wondering about the possibility of doing this at only one of the elementary schools (on an opt-in basis), in which parents would forgo specials like art, music, and gym (more recess time seems like a fair swap), not object to larger class sizes, half-day K, and getting rid of or using fund raising for big field trips and other expensive programs, in exchange for having parents get to weigh in on:

1. what objectives to set for each grade

2. what to do with kids who don't meet those objectives

3. what to do with kids who have already met their objectives for the year

I'd bet there would be a school's worth of parents who would opt in under those conditions.