Morning Notes

by ARLnow.com September 30, 2011 at 8:32 am 3,382 106 Comments

Wakefield Loses Full Accreditation — Wakefield High School was the only Arlington County public school that failed to receive full state accreditation this year. The school was accredited “within warning” because only 77 percent of the class of 2011 graduated. Wakefield will need to show a rising graduation rate for the next two years or it will lose all state accreditation. [Washington Examiner]

Arlington Skate Park Remarkably Graffiti Free — The Powhatan Springs skate park in Dominion Hills has nary a graffiti scribble, in contrast to nearly every other public skate park in the country. Plus, it also has a rain garden. [Greater Greater Washington]

Colony House Closing — Colony House Furniture (1700 Lee Highway) is closing after 75 years in business. Originally, owner JR Diffee had hoped to move the business elsewhere in Arlington, after he sold the original store to a hotel developer. Now a trade publication reports that Colony House is closing after being hurt by the economy. A going out of business sale currently in progress is expected to wrap up by the end of the year. [Furniture Today, Colony House Furniture]

  • You have to get more than 77% of the students to come to school in order to graduate them. I wonder what the attendance rate for Wakefield is compared to the others?

    • Orlando

      Going to school is hard.

    • Mike

      True– it’s more an attendance issue than you suspect. In fact, about half of the “dropout” students counted against Wakefield’s numbers never once set foot in Wakefield. They instead went to one of the county’s “programs” like Arlington Mill, HB, the teen parent program, etc. About a quarter started at Wakefield and transfered to one of those programs.

      • Lee-n-Glebe

        I find it difficult to believe that a student who transfers or enrolls in another program would be counted as a “dropout” – that would seem to be an unfair accounting practice from any reasonable point of view. Can you point me to where you got those numbers?

        • clarifying

          I could be completely wrong, but I believe in some agreement with Mike that there are many “programs” that are not considered “schools” so if a student being “transferred” to that seems misleading as if they’ve transferred schools and more often than not these programs work where they are through the school registration system itself and they are still students of their districted school and not of the specific program they are transferred to. Again, I could be totally wrong, but that’s why I believe it would still in some way count against the school if they do not complete the program or drop out of the program. It would be counted as dropping out of the school as well if they do not return to everyday school/classroom assignments after they’ve dropped the program or it hasn’t been completed. (Again, I could totally be wrong, I have no facts on that on hand, but I believe that’s how I remember the system working when a friend of mine was part of one of these “programs” but was still technically a student of our high school in Arlington.)

          • Mike

            Correct. To the state DOE, all the students in Arl Mill, HB, etc. are essentially WHS students. One solution would be to eliminate this absurd “program” status, so the data would be a little more readily understood.

            As for the source of the numbers, contact the school. They’ve discussed it with parents, and I’m sure they’d be happy to show you the numbers.

        • Arlwhenver

          Students can’t transfer into the continuation program until they are 16 which means if half of the program’s students never set foot into Wakefield, those students were truant for a couple of years, raising a host of questions about APS’s monitoring and enforcement of complusory attendance laws.

          • John Snyder

            False. 37 of the 75 students listed as “dropouts” from Wakefield never attended Wakefield, transferring into alternative programs. 16 attended WHS, then transferred to an alternative program.

    • madisonmanor

      Not particular to Wakefield but Arlington in general, you might want to read the letter to the editor from yesterday’s *ugh* Sun Gazette. As someone who is painfully aware of the repercussions of an organization having no strategy in their strategic plan, none of this disparity surprises me.

      If your school system has no definable, measurable and relevant goals and objectives, then you have no plan, because you have no way to define where you are, where you want to be or how to get there. You might call it one, but it is not viable, and won’t improve the results one iota. Poor planning is almost always a direct result of poor leadership.

  • Jack

    The conversation in our South Arlington (Fairlington) neighborhood is that if you want good public education you have to move to North Arlington or leave the county. (Two of our neighbors just moved out of their homes to North Arlington for just that purpose) The fact that there is this disparity (factual of perceived) between North and South is really disappointing.

    The news about Wakefield just makes the point more pressing.

    • Mike

      General metrics are always going to be skewed due to demographics. Have your neighbors compare how students in their demographic (race, parents’ education, need, language) do at Wakefield vs.at other schools (including what colleges they’re accepted at). A few years ago, I remember Wakefield’s AP pass rate was essentially equal to HB’s.

      If they still want to move, might I suggest that they have another motive?

    • Joe

      Is the quality of the schools/teachers better in N. Arlington or is it just the students?

      • Lou


      • Jack

        The read is this -Most the elementary (most Fairlington parents have young ones) schools that perform well, are recognized, are challenging, have higher scores are in North Arlington. It could be that its purely a matter of demographics. But if that is the case, can the school system try to equalize this? It maybe selfish, but if I have the means, ought I place my child in a school that is addressing a significant demographic issues when she scores above their average such that she will not be challenged as much. Yes, there is nobility in helping out all by having her there, but what do I say when she is 18…”Well honey, you were one of the top students at your school, but we always knew your school had problems, and while we know if hurt your chances in getting into a great college, we knew that if you stuck it out you would help Arlington county.”

        This is just the dilemma I am thinking through these days as we make a decision in the next year to either move within/out of the county or place in a private school. Thoughts?

        • Lee-n-Glebe

          My take is that you owe your kids the best opportunity they can get. If I thought my kids would have a better opportunity in a private school or in another school district, I would move – or consider some of the County-wide schools like ATS, which is widely regarded as being a fantastic program.

        • Mr Mister

          It would be better for *all* students if the School Board were to put the ESL and underperforming students in separate programs focused on their problems.

        • Mike

          And I’m somewhat sympathetic when we’re talking about “significant demographic issues”, as long as that doesn’t mean “the school has some minorities”. My daughter went to an elem. school in N Arlington that was perceived as bad due to low test scores. We saw that scores in our demographic were actually no worse than other North Arl schools. She had a very good education and exposure to other demographics: in my book, win/win.

          Now she’s at Wakefield. And while the school is wildly diverse, I would in no way characterize her experience as having “significant (negative) demographic issues”. Regular classes have a wildly diverse group of students. Advanced classes have a wildly diverse group of smart students. And the smart kids do well, learn a lot, and go to great colleges.

          • John Snyder

            Mike, actually “significant demographic issues” is a big plus for Wakefield. (I expect you would agree.) The students benefit from a diverse student body, ethnically and economically. They learn stuff like mutual respect, that people who look or sound different need not be feared, that you are entitled to things like respect, but not to success. You have to work for that. And your classmates may have experiences or viewpoints you have never encountered.

      • Burger

        Both. And you add in great affluence, smaller immigration population, more two-parent families and North Arlington has a built in advantage over South Arlington.

        And, yes, the above is one of the reasons parents fight anytime the School Board wants to shift school jurisdictions.

        Maybe the new Wakefield school when it comes on line will change that perception some.

    • John Snyder

      Jack, are there really a lot of parents in Fairlington who think that their children are likely to drop out of high school? Do they really think they are more likely to drop out if they go to Wakefield? That is all this factor supposedly measures–completion. What it really measures is the extent to which Arlington is economically and ethnically segregated. When most of the students with little English and with high pressure to add an income to the family finances live in one part of the county, shazam! more kids from that part of the county drop out of high school. This has nothing at all to do with the education of the kids who stay.

      If APS could declare that all the kids in alternative programs go to Yorktown, would Yorktown all of a sudden be a bad school when a high percentage of the kids most at risk of dropping out do drop out? Or would people say it is idiotic to judge a school by the actions of students who do not go there?

  • CrystalMikey

    Sad news about a local business (Colony House).

    • charlie

      colony house owns their property and sold it to a developer. they sealed their own fate. and walked away with some serious $$.

  • Zoning Victim

    This is what happens when you willingly allow your area to be overrun with people who either cannot speak English, have received a poor education before entering our school system and/or don’t value an education. Those people drag down the school systems in the areas they live because the teachers can’t just leave them behind and concentrate on the students who do care, which means those students are not getting the attention they deserve. It’s certainly not the school’s fault that students are dropping out; it’s the fault of those students’ parents and the school system for not figuring out how to bring these kids up-to-speed in a way that doesn’t impact the good students (or move them out the door if that’s where they’re going to end up anyway).

    • Bingo. +10

    • KalashniKEV


    • Lee-n-Glebe

      Serious question – do any of the local schools even have trade programs anymore? Wood shop? Auto shop? Something where a non college-bound student can learn a productive skill, even with limited language skills?

      • CW

        I think most of that has been delegated to trade schools and community colleges. The American education model is predicated, for better or for worse, upon the idea that everyone should receive a general high school education.

        • Zoning Victim

          For worse, IMO. The last two years of HS should be prep for a job or prep for college; student’s choice. It’s insane to convince everyone that they have to spend $100K on secondary education if they want to succeed when it simply isn’t true. There are a lot of good jobs people could be trained for and receive accreditation in during their last two years of HS.

          • Lou

            You know, I had a teacher at Yorktown, kind of a legendary droll and dour type of guy, tell our class that the majority should not plan on going to college. This was a 10th grade class. I think even back then I got what he meant, although a lot of people got upset about it. He was just saying something with a lot of experience behind it that sounded really unpopular the way he said it.

          • funny

            Bet I had him too… storyline sounds familiar. 🙂

          • Ho

            Honey, we’ve all had him.

      • John

        W-L has a design/technology class. It’s the latest evolution of what was once wood shop. The lab has a CNC-milling machine, laser cutter, 3D-printer, the latest CAD and 3D modeling software, in addition to the standard wood shop equipment. The class is intended for students interested in engineering, architecture, industrial design, etc. Only W-L has this course, but I think all the high schools should offer something similar.

        So to answer Lee-n-Glebe’s question, this is a class aimed at highly motivated college-bound students. But, the career center does offer technical courses, for those interested in joining the workforce after high school.

        • FCPS have a program called “technology” which is as you describe at W-L. I’m not sure if it is at every FCPS, but I know someone who used to teach it there and it is a county-wide program.

        • Lou

          It would be nice if Yorktown gets a similar setup in the new school. When I was there they had a full 4 year regime of electives in drafting/architecture. I know it led to a handful of kids around my class moving into design and construction careers.

          • John

            Yeah, those classes were pretty intense, and the students produced beautiful hand-drafted technical drawings–a lost art today. All the county high schools had that class until about 10 years ago, and I think every high school in the county should offer W-L’s design/technology class.

      • Arlwhenver

        Most of the vocational/tech offerings are at the Career Center on Walter Reed just off of Columbia Pike. Classes are in areas such as med tech, IT, auto shop, engineering, beauticians, finance etc. There’s regularly scheduled bus service throughout the day to get students back and forth from the regular high schools where they take academic classes.

        As for the dropout rate, a lot of the students in the programs (AMill and LangsBrown) are counted as drop outs because they’ve fallen behind, but do eventually graduate. Without the continuation programs those students would never receive a bona fide high school diploma. Students don’t enter AMill of LB until age 16 which means they’ve not been able to make a go of it at one of the comprensive high schools (WL, Wake or York) prior to matriculating in the continuation program or are looking for an alternative to dropping out.

    • Smilla

      Your anti-immigrant sentiments aside, how do you screen out people who “have received a poor education before entering our school system and/or don’t value an education” before they move to the county? And once they have moved here, how do you kick them out legally? Newsflash: there are white people who have poor educations or who don’t care about their education, too, you know.

      Or are you simply using code for “brown people”?

      • D’oh


      • I don’t see where Zoning Victim stated anything about “brown” people. You did. In fact, ZV stated specifically kids who don’t value an education which is a comment transparent to any specific “color”, sex, or any other classification.

        Pot stirrer.

        • Smilla

          You missed the gist of my comment completely — or are you being deliberately obtuse? “Code for ‘brown people’ ” is the operative phrase.

          • I’m being deliberately obtuse to counteract your stirring.

          • aaactually

            “I’m being deliberately obtuse to counteract my horrific racism.”

            Fixed your post for you.

          • I have never once said anything about race. In fact, I pointed out how Zoning Victim didn’t either. You both clearly have fixated on his statement regarding not speaking English as racist toward “brown” people. Quite certainly, there are people out there who are not “brown” who don’t speak English. ZV also cited (1) students who have received a poor education before coming to Arlington and, (2) students who don’t value an education. Hmmmm….how is ANY of that “code for being brown”?

            aaactually….YOU are the racist.

          • Lou

            Oh man. I was wondering how long it would take for this site to become one of those “fixed it for you”-type places. I see it has finally sunk that far.

          • Smilla

            Better than the site becoming one of those ones where people write “FIRST!”…

            Plus, aaactually was right.

          • Lou


          • Josh S

            OB –

            Yes, there are people who are white who don’t speak English. But I don’t think Arlington Public Schools are being “overrun” with French or Italian immigrants. You use “overrun with people who don’t speak English” in Arlington, you’re talking about non-white people. It doesn’t take a terribly big leap to assume there might possibly be some racism there.

            Your protests notwithstanding….

        • Smoke_Jaguar4

          “This is what happens when you willingly allow your area to be overrun with people who either cannot speak English…”

          So what language do you think he’s thinking about? Norgwegian? Polish? Pashto?
          Considering the population at WHS is 45% hispanic, could he be refering to SPANISH? Nahhh… Maybe he’s thinking about the 27% at WHS who are black, since they speak Ebonics. Let’s ‘aks’ him.

      • Jack

        The answer maybe is to put them in classes that address those issues and separate them from those who are not as challenged.

      • KalashniKEV

        “how do you screen out people who “have received a poor education before entering our school system”

        It’s simple… with an entrance exam. We had them where I grew up and your teachers were on a “team” of tracked students… faculty meetings were frequent, and by team, to ensure tests weren’t all on the same day and sometimes lessons even crossed over in a very interesting way.

        It’s high school, not kindergarten. There’s nothing wrong with giving an exam to assess ability and standing and placing students accordingly.

      • News Flash

        There are standardized tests very early in elem. school that easily show which students are ready to learn and which need help.

      • Zoning Victim

        As other people have stated, you have entrance exams. One of the big differences between our school systems and the school systems of some of the countries that kick our butts in academics despite spending far less per student is that they don’t just get to go to a good school or a bad school because of where they live. They fight for placement in the good K-12 schools there just like Americans do to get into good colleges here. If you don’t place well, you don’t go to the good schools where you can hold back the good students.

        Yes, I mean throw out the white deadbeats, too. Let them go to a school(s) where people are trained to deal with the problems they have, whether developmental, attitudinal or mental. I was one of those people who hated school, couldn’t wait to leave school diploma or not diploma, did poorly grade wise because I wouldn’t do a lot of the busy work or kiss the teacher’s butt and probably disrupted more than my fair share of classes; so I know exactly what I’m talking about. It didn’t do me any good to keep me in the schools I was designated to go to because of where I was regionally when I was totally incapable of excelling there. All it did was make my attitude toward school and authority even worse year by year. It certainly didn’t help the other students at the schools I attended to have me around. I should have been moved off to a school that was run by people who were ready to deal with children like me early in my career as a student. It would have worked out better for everyone involved. I know exactly how hard it is to attend regular school if it doesn’t fit you, and I actually tested out highly in all subjects; I can’t imagine how much more difficult it must be to incorporate students like me into our one size fits all system if you can’t even effectively communicate with them. If you have schools packed full of people like that who the teachers and administrators cannot effectively communicate with because of a lack of any sensible immigration and education policy, you’re subjecting both the “problem” students and the good students to a situation where they will be more prone to failure than not. In the grand scheme of things, I was extremely lucky to have made it through all of that and become successful.

        And I’m not anti-immigration. I am definitely anti-illegal immigration, which accounts for more than 80% of the 1.25 million people who immigrate to this country a year according to the Census Bureau. We should be actively courting immigrants who are doctors, scientists, engineers, business men in good standing, good students, etc. Instead, we have no immigration plan for this country or county at all.

        • Josh S

          See, if you had just said all that to begin with, you could have avoided some of the flamers.

          Not that I agree with everything you say, but it is much more nuanced and reasonable than just talking about being “overrun” with colored people. Which just sounds bigoted.

    • Bender

      ZV —

      This is what happens when County government willingly and purposely pursues policies that keep (segregate) lower-income people (i.e. minorities) in South Arlington.

      Perhaps if the County inflicted its development and affordable housing policies on those areas north of Lee Highway too, such that lower-income people could afford to live there, rather than being packed into South Arlington, then minority children could get a good education too.

      • Zoning Victim

        I agree with you in some ways, but North Arlington is built; there’s no way to put affordable housing in there. They should at least stop the practice of grouping all of the students from one area together in a school as this will cause bad schools to form in the areas dominated by low-income people, which further devalues the property there. It seems like it would be much more effective to mix these types of students into all of the different schools and have some of the kids from other areas that are performing well go to the areas where the schools aren’t so non-performers don’t become the overwhelming demographic of any one school.

        • Vicente Fox

          This is the idea behind ‘magnet’ schools.

      • Wrong

        N. Arl. has plenty of low-income housing. Buckingham is huge and has been low-income Hispanic forever, except for the new condos they just built. Also, there’s an area by the hospital that’s low-income and mostly black. There are apts all up and down Lee, including some in Rosslyn, that are low income. They also are just about done building a big income restricted building in Ballston, where the funky car dealership used to be, at Glebe and I think Wilson.

        N. Arl has far fewer relatively affordable (under 500 K) detached homes than S Arl, but it has at least as many officially programmed low income apartments as S Arl.

        • Bender

          Are Buckingham and Rosslyn north of Lee Highway? You know, up in that lily white area of Arlington?

          Between Lee Highway and Arlington Blvd. might technically be “north” for purposes of map-making, but it is more realistically central Arlington (which is somewhat mixed, but even then minorities are essentially segregated into certain neighborhoods, e.g. Buckingham).

          And there is no problem constructing 20-story buildings up in the neighborhoods north of Lee Highway — they can just tear down existing structures in order to “revitalize” the area, just as they have along Columbia Pike.

          • Wrong

            N. Arlington is north of 50, not Lee Hwy. But even accepting your dubious changing of the definition, the people who live in those areas of “central” arlington where the low income housing is are zoned for W-L. Your original point was that Wakefield has bad scores becauase A) all the poor miniority kids are zoned for Wakefield (false) and B) all the affordable housing is in S. Arlington. Also false.

            20 story buildings will never happen in the area you describe. Maybe in Rosslyn/Courthouse, but that’s it.

          • Wrong again

            If you speak with any true Arlingtonian native, people whose family go back generations, they will tell you “north” Arlington was always above Lee Hwy. When my grandfather moved here as a construction worker at the Pentagon he used to say that real estate agents back in those days refused to show blue collar workers homes that were north of Lee. Not until he became a policeman was he “allowed” to look at homes in Westover where my family finally settled.
            Arlington is consistantly regarded as one of the most affluent places in America. There is no reason why any school, regardless of drmographics, income levels,etc should be underperforming. Arlington is not a corruption and crime ridden inner city…so these kinds of issues should not be allowed to fester.

          • John

            Westover is south of Lee Hwy; so I don’t know how that helps your argument.

            There have always been affluent areas south of Lee Hwy: Lyon Vill, Tara, Waycroft Woodlawn, Ashton Hts, etc etc. There were however more blue collar neighborhoods south of Lee Hwy than north, like Bon Air (near the RR tracks), Halls Hill (both N and S of Lee Hwy). It was never cut and dried, as you make it appear.

          • liz

            Totally agree with the last paragraph.

    • Josh S

      You’re just not gonna win many arguments when you start off with “willingly allow your area to be overrun with people.” It’s absurd and offensive on so many levels it’s hard to even start.

  • UnlimitedCustoms

    What is the demographic makeup of Wakefield HS?

    • Lee-n-Glebe

      According to the article:

      “Wakefield’s student body is 45 percent Hispanic, followed by blacks at 27 percent — significantly more diverse than the school system as a whole, which is 45 percent white.”

      • The Dope of South Arlington

        But I thought immigrants were supposed to be a net gain for a community.

        • Lee-n-Glebe

          The school score card is an interesting read:

          A quick run through indicates that:
          Black students and hispanic students at Wakefield have tended to underperform white students in most subjects tested
          All WHS demographic groups outperform their division and state peer groups, except in science where all WHS demographic groups underperform their division and state peers
          The Hispanic dropout rate has historically (since 07-08) hovered somewhere around 8%, which is roughly twice that of black students. Info for white students was not reported, the somewhat confusing note says whites in this context are “A group below state definition for personally identifiable results.” Not entirely sure, but could that mean the dropout rates are negligible?

      • Greg

        Why is 45 percent hispanic more diverse than 45 percent white? That’s a strange definition of diversity.

        • Zoning Victim

          45% Hispanic + 27% black would mean 28% other, which we can assume is mostly white. Counting other as all white would mean that this particular school is 72% non-white. A school that is 45% white would only leave room for a 55% population of non-whites, and is therefore, under the accepted definition of “diverse” in this context, less diverse.

          • Curious

            What is accepted definition of “diverse”?

          • Zoning Victim

            I’m betting you can figure it out without my help. If not, your computer seems to be working fine.

  • Matt B

    That’s because they are all at the Taco Bell and Wendy’s just down the street. Looks like 23% of them better get used to going there every day.

  • Arla Mom

    Here are the 2011 SAT scores for all the high schools in Northern VA. (2400 is now the top score.) Notice who is at the very bottom.

    TJ 2184
    Langley 1819
    McLean 1772
    Woodson 1750
    Madison 1746
    Oakton 1733
    Yorktown 1724
    Marshall 1672
    Lake Braddock 1665
    Robinson 1663
    Fairfax 1638
    West Springfield 1632
    Westfield 1627
    Chantilly 1626
    Herndon 1613
    Centreville 1611
    Washington-Lee 1609
    South County 1573
    South Lakes 1568
    West Potomac 1550
    Edison 1522
    Annandale 1514
    Hayfield 1498
    Lee 1498
    Stuart 1487
    Falls Church 1467
    Mount Vernon 1463
    Wakefield 1452

    • If the data you present is true (you didn’t cite the reference), Fairfax County seems to be doing a pretty good job. General consensus here is that Arlington schools are better and we pay our teachers more. Something isn’t adding up. 2 out of 3 are higher than the state average, which is something but comparing to Fairfax is striking.

      • Vik

        I think it depends on what metrics the people rating the schools use. Sometimes, class sizes and percentage of students taking AP/IB classes are taken into account. Many schools in Fairfax County are overcrowded and some of those with relatively high SAT scores don’t have as high a number of students taking AP/IB classes. I think the demographics in many Fairfax County communities leads it to have higher SAT scores despite the county perhaps not having as good a reputation as Arlington.

        • CW

          Correlation is not causation. If you put the worst students at the best school, they won’t magically turn into the best students. I went to a high school that didn’t have half the resources of any school on this list. You got out of it what you put in. Same thing here. There are resources available for students willing to work hard, and you will go as far as you push yourself to go. Does anybody really think college admissions counselors are going to reject kids just because of the school they went to? Of course not; they’re going to look at the individual’s statistics.

          • Jack

            Q. Does anybody really think college admissions counselors are going to reject kids just because of the school they went to?

            Answer: Yes, absolutely.

            Grades from one school do not translate to another. a A+ at Wakefield is not equal to a A+ at Langley. Colleges weight those things all the time.
            Source: My dad who runs 3 private schools, 2 friends who work as college admissions counselors. Another friend is a high school counselor who just spent the last weekend at the NCCAC conference . The goal? To get time in front of college admin counselors to make them aware of the strength of the school because it matters- a lot.

          • Vik

            I agree. That was sort of my point, albeit indirectly. Just because a kid took 6 AP classes at one school, it doesn’t always mean that they would test better on the SAT than a kid at another school who is took half as many AP classes. I know that there is a correlation, but you can see from the SAT scores that it doesn’t tell the whole story. Same thing with a kid with a 4.0 at a mediocre public school compared to a 3.8 at an elite public school. Where you went to school absolutely does matter, which is one reason why schools send out little pamphlets or whatnot along with the transcripts they send out.

          • CW

            Guess I’m a relic of a different time and place, not being raised in this bubble of hyper-competitive public schooling.

            The irony is that the quality of these schools as a whole bites them all in the collective butt, as colleges receive way too many applicants from the DC/NoVa area. People from other areas have a much easier time getting into places, as I understand it.

          • CW

            I also wasn’t referring just to grades. I’m talking about the entire package. You can’t tell me that someone who has A’s at Wakefield and a ton of great ECs, scores, and rec letters doesn’t stand a chance against someone who got good grades and went to Langley.

        • Zoning Victim

          When I was in school, they didn’t force everybody to take SATs. If that’s still the case those scores can be very misleading if you attempt to use them to deduce school performance. Most bad students and students who don’t want to go to college won’t take them even if it’s required, so the average score is simply an average score of the good students.

      • Arla Mom

        Source is College Board, through http://www.city-data.com/forum/northern-virginia/1381002-2011-nova-sat-scores.html

        In our experience, it’s the parents who make the difference as much as the teachers. The brightest kids come from homes that stimulate them and teach them the basics before they even get to the classroom.

        It seems like FCPS is doing a better job overall than ACPS. The schools there with comparable percentages of Hispanic kids (Chantilly, Herndon, Centreville) outperformed the similar Arlington schools on average SAT.

        • Arlwhenver

          You got it right — better results at two-thirds the cost. APS is an overrated spendthrift, that in my experience thwarts creativity and individual initiative and holds high performing students back.. I would much rather my kids were in FCPS. We are moving out of town next spring. My kids will be better off for it.

          • John Snyder

            Really? So all those kids entering college with a year or more of AP credits or an IB diploma are just an illusion? If you had ever met students in places like Wakefield or HB Woodlawn, you would understand that students are challenged in Arlington.

    • JMB

      Where’s TC Williams?

      • Alexandrian

        On the ghetto school list.

    • John Snyder

      So what percentage of the students take the test in each school? Do they encourage kids who otherwise would not take the SAT to try? Or do they make low expectations a self-fulfilling prediction? What percentage are eligible for free and reduced lunch? What percentage of the kids taking the SAT are doing so in their second language?

  • Smilla

    Hey, is ARLNow going to cover this knee-slapper of a story?

    Arlington GOP raises $4 in September

  • In the age of the Great Recession how anyone would not seek to graduate High School or at least get a equivlancey diploma is beyond me.

    • Hattie McDaniel

      Most kids tend not to think in those terms. That is why it is up to their parents to instill the need for education in them.

  • G

    Some of the condo-owners in my building with kids just rent their units out and rent temporarily in N. Arlington while their kid goes to high school. Then they just move back.

    • Jack

      That is wild

    • charlie

      there are some parts of Rosslyn with “good” hispanics that get bussed to Yorktown … passing by W-L … and there are several people with studio apartments as their “home” address..
      it is just crazy what people will do to get what they think might be a better education, but isn’t really.

      • Lou

        There could be lots of other factors besides grades and test scores.

      • John

        The controversial Rosslyn boundary island, and a large section of S Arlington that moved to W-L, was created in the mid-90s to relieve Wakefield of its heavy low income population. While initially it helped, Arlington’s open enrollment policy has allowed many students to transfer out of Wakefield to W-L and Yorktown over the years.

        • School Bored

          It also coincided with the completion of a sizable strand of million dollar townhouses in North Rosslyn. That area used to be assigned to W-L, but when they build the ritzy houses it switched to Yorktown. Coincidence?

          • John

            There are plenty of 1 million + townhouses and single family homes in the w-l district to squash that argument. In fact the 1 million + townhose development, hillcrest, near McCoy park is oddly zoned to w-l while the majority of homes in that neighborhood are now zoned to Yorktown. My point is that real estate values had nothing to do with those boundary changes. It was about helping out Wakefield while sending w-l neighborhoods that would not put up a fight to Yorktown to prevent overcrowding at w-l and increase the population at Yorktown. Moving rosslyn to Yorktown was the least controverial move. Supt. Gosling had proposed sending all of North Arlington north of 17th street to Yorktown but woodmont, cherrydale, and waverly hills protested.

  • Chris M.

    There are only two real determinants of educational performance, IQ and work ethic. Everything else is white noise on the margins. Both of these correlate with income as well, so of course N. Arlington will do better. But, being at the bottom of that list is just sad.

    I imagine the parents who care, can manage it, and don’t want to move, just put their kids in private schools and end up making Wakefield even a worse place to learn.

    • I’d argue parental involvement, genes, and home life play a big part too.

      • CW

        IQ = genes

        Work ethic = product of home life and parental involvement.

  • MC

    If nearly a quarter of students aren’t graduating, and taxpayers are spending about $18,000 a year for the education of these non-graduates, this is a colossal failure, whatever the reason. It doesn’t take much to graduate from high school anymore, and still, huge numbers can’t do it.

  • The Truth

    Listen folks, drop out rates many times are effective by a students family resources to send them to college. If a 16 year old kid comes from no-money, and little parent involvement, they will rebel and drop out more easily.

    Wakefield vs. Yorktown has everything to do with what goes on in the home…the schools, teachers, ect are no different…it’s the families that feed them, and incomes of families that effect the numbers.

    If Wakefield kids drop out because they think they cant go to college, up the education and programs to give them H.O.P.E that they can!

    • Aaron

      Up the education? Shouldn’t we gut the education so that even the laziest, least motivated child in the school can get through it without having their feelings hurt or their brain overworked? That’ll also boost our graduation numbers so everyone will be happy with the system’s performance. I mean, that strategy worked wonders for the DC public schools, right?


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