Schools

The Carderock neighborhood feeds into three excellent schools. Both the Carderock Springs Elementary School and the Thomas. W. Pyle Middle School have been deemed Blue Ribbon Schools by the US Department of Education. The Blue Ribbon Schools Program that are either academically superior in their states or that demonstrate dramatic gains in student achievement. The Blue Ribbon School of Excellence award was established by the U. S. Department of Education in 1982 to honor public and private K-12 schools around the nation that exhibit sustained high achievement and/or significant improvement in mathematics and reading related to State assessments. Less than 300 schools nationwide are recognized each year.

Carderock Springs Elementary and Thomas. W. Pyle Middle School rank at top 5% in the county and state for their excellent Maryland School Assessment (MSA) test scores.

For more information on these fine schools please visit Montgomery County Public Schools web site or the individual school you are interested in below:

Carderock Springs Elementary School
7401 Persimmon Tree Lane
Bethesda, MD 20817
(301) 469-1034

Thomas W. Pyle Middle School
6311 Wilson Lane
Bethesda, MD 20817
(301) 320-6540

Walt Whitman High School
7100 Whittier Boulevard
Bethesda, MD 20817
(301) 320-6600
More information
School Paper

Other Useful School Information:

Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE)www.Marylandpublicschools.org is your online source for information on Maryland’s preK-12 public education, public libraries, and rehabilitation services. Thank you for your interest in Maryland public education.

Maryland Report Cardwww.mdreportcard.org a collection of data compiled on an annual basis to provide information on school performance to all education stakeholders; provide information to support school improvement efforts; and to provide accountability at the state, school system and school level or reporting educational progress.

Great Schoolswww.greatschools.net
A parents guide to area schools. Webby Awards voted Great Schools the Best Family & Parenting Site 2007 People’s Voice Award.

PUBLIC CHOICE
by: Ira Carnahan

TWO YEARS AGO SUSAN RHEA was thinking about pulling her first-grade son from his public school just outside Dayton, Ohio and putting him in a private school. “His school just wasn’t challenging,” she complains.

Then her husband took a job in Washington, D.C. When they went house-shopping this time, they homed in on neighborhoods with terrific public schools. They talked to Realtors and other parents, researched test scores and class sizes, and ended up picking Carderock Springs Elementary, in Montgomery County, Md.

Even in Montgomery County, where 60% of adults are college graduates and 30% have graduate degrees, Carderock’s test scores and ambience stood out. “Obviously we pay a lot to live here. But if you get good public schools, it’s worth it,” says Rhea, whose two children are now in kindergarten and third Grade.

She’s right, and you should do the arithmetic before buying a house. What if the house in the town with the good schools costs you $300,000 more? If it saves you a $20,000 school tuition bill, it’s worth it. Assuming a 7.5% mortgage cost and a 1.5% property tax, the expensive house adds a tax-deductible $27,000 to your living expenses-perhaps $15,000 aftertax. With two kids in school the costly home is a screaming bargain.

Across the river from Montgomery County; Thomas Jefferson High School in Alexandria, Va. offers Latin, Russian, Japanese, thermodynamics and artificial intelligence. And the kids can actually handle this stuff; a stunning 153 of the school’s 392 seniors were National Merit Semiflnalists last year. From that class, 7 went to Stanford, 11 to Harvard, 13 to Princeton and 21 to MIT.

What about a rigorous liberal arts education? More public schools, such as Montgomery County magnet school Richard Montgomery High, have started offering International Baccalaureate Diploma programs. Students must complete five years of a foreign language, pass six sets of exams and write a 4,000-word essay.

Scarsdale and Great Neck, near New York City; Brookline, near Boston; Shaker Heights, near Cleveland; and Winnetka, outside Chicago, all boast excellent public schools. Even in California, with its school funding problems, towns like Palo Alto and Saratoga stand out.

Of the 40 finalists in this year’s Intel Science Talent Search, the nation’s most prestigious science competition, 35 hail from public schools. Of this year’s 141 Presidential Scholars, 107 attend public schools. Of National Merit Scholars, three-fourths attend public schools. Nearly two-thirds of Harvard freshmen come from public schools.

Alice Anne Freund, a Washington consultant and former private school admissions director, recommends that parents with access to a great public school consider it first, and look at private schools only if it doesn’t meet their fainily’s needs.

High-priced private schools usually offer smaller class sizes. Are they worth it? “The research on class size suggests it’s not a great buy. It seems not to pay off in academic achievement,” says Eric Hanushek, a senior fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution; Also, your child may get some small classes at a public school; in Montgomery County; first, second, and third-graders get 90 minutes of reading instruction a day with 12 to 15 students per teacher.

How do you find the best school public or private? Start by comparing test scores, graduation rates and college admissions. Many public school districts now post scores on the Web; Montgomery County even lets you sort schools by test results. Private schools tend to be less forthcoming. Check out newspaper Web sites. Chicagotribune.com and The Inquirer (wwwphilly.com) offer school “report cards” that include scores, demographics and other info. For schools offering an International Baccalaureate Diploma, go to wwwibo.org.

Before signing a house purchase contract, talk to parents and visit any school you’re considering. Check out how involved the parents are, both in volunteer time and fundraising. Parent groups in some affluent areas have formed foundations to ensure that their schools are as well-equipped as private ones.

When comparing test results, remember that they are skewed by students’ backgrounds-mainly their par- ents’ educational levels. That makes public schools in wealthy neighborhoods and private schools look better than they are; smart kids do well wherever they enroll. This is no minor point. Private school students do better on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, but the gap between average scores is about the same at ages 13 and 17 as at 9. If private schools really added so much value, then the gap should widen.

Of course, parents are drawn to private schools for the social aspects, too. Public schools are generally larger and don’t offer single-sex or religious education. Jennifer Abrams has two children in public Somerset Elementary in Chevy Chase, Md., but she sent her sixth-grader to the all-girls National Cathedral School. “I think there’s less chance to go astray. The community is smaller and tighter and looks out for you a lot,” she says. It’s also hard to beat the contacts you’ll make at a school like Andover, alma mater of two generations of President Bushes.

If, that is, you can get in. The truth is, with the current boom in the school-age population and more families willing and able to pay, getting into a prestigious private school is harder than ever. The National Association of Independent Schools reports that average acceptance rates at its schools fell from 60% in 1989 to 50% in 1998. In California, Florida. NewYork and Washington, D.C. some prime private schools have five applicants per place.

Assuming your child gets in to the school of your dreams, the tuition bill may not be the end of it. Many private schools pressure parents for donations. You’re not expected to spend as much at the PTA auction in a public school.

Add it all up, and for most parents an excellent public school is a better deal financially and possibly a better deal educationally than the private school they would otherwise be sending their kids to. And with public schools reemphasizing basics and piling on more homework and tests, you can’t assume that the private school will be more of a challenge. In 1997 in a Public Agenda survey, 42% of parents of kids in public school said private ones had higher standards; only 22% said their own schools were more demanding. But in a new survey, Public Agenda found that just 35% of public school parents still think private ones are more demanding and 34% think public schools are tougher. Their impressions may not be far from the truth.