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Get the lay of the land for Portland area schools. Learn the basics of navigating the system.

Determine what you’re looking for in a school, and what your child might need.

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Know how to get the inside scoop on a school. Learn what to ask and what to look for on a school tour.

Make a plan to go after the schools you like best. Understand the application or lottery process.

When you finally commit to a school, get tips on how to transition successfully.

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Abernethy Elementary (3) Ainsworth Elementary (2) All Saints School (1) Arbor School of Arts & Sciences (2) Arco Iris Spanish Immersion School (1) Atkinson Elementary (1) Be Academy (3) Beach Elementary (2) Beverly Cleary (1) Bridlemile Elementary (1) Buckman Arts Elementary (4) Cathedral School (1) Catlin Gabel (5) Cedar Hills Kindergarten & Preschool (1) Cedarwood Waldorf School (3) Chapman Elementary (1) Childpeace Montessori School (1) Class Academy (1) Cleveland High School (2) Creative Science School (2) Duniway Elementary (1) East/West Sylvan Middle School (1) Emerson School (5) Faubion K-8 (2) French American International School (1) German American School of Portland (1) Gilkey International Middle School (2) Glencoe Elementary (1) Grant High School (1) Grout Elementary (1) Hayhurst Elementary (3) Homeschool (1) Hope Chinese Charter School (1) Hosford Middle School (2) International Leadership Academy (1) Irvington Elementary (1) Ivy School (2) James John Elementary (1) Jefferson High School Middle College for Advanced Studies (1) Laurelhurst Elementary (1) Le Monde Immersion School (2) L'Etoile French Immersion School (1) Lewis Elementary (1) Lincoln High (1) Maplewood School (1) Markham Elementary (2) Martin Luther King Elementary (2) Metropolitan Learning Center (5) Northwest Academy (1) Northwest Chinese Academy (1) Opal Charter School (2) Oregon Connections Academy (1) Oregon Episcopal School (2) Portland French School (2) Portland Public Schools (11) Portland Village School (1) Providence Montessori School (1) Renaissance School of Arts and Sciences (1) Richmond School (Japanese) (2) Rigler Elementary (1) Scott School (1) Sitton Elementary (1) Southwest Charter School (2) Sunstone Montessori School (2) The International School (2) The Living School (2) The Odyssey Program at Hayhurst (5) The Portland Montessori School (1) Trillium Charter School (1) Valley Catholic Elementary (1) Vestal Elementary (1) Whitman Elementary (1) Wilson High School (1) Winterhaven (3) Woodlawn Elementary (1) Woodstock Mandarin Immersion (2) Your School Not Listed? (1)

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Welcome to Scoop On Schools

If you are wondering how to find the best Portland area school for your child, we’ve got you covered! Follow a step-by-step process created by two Portland moms who have gone through it themselves and want to give you the scoop on how it all works.

We may not be blogging anymore,  but we're still around! If you want to let us know about changes in the school scene please leave comments, find us on FACEBOOK, post to the FORUM, or CONTACT US

Tuesday
Nov292016

CLASS Academy – profile

CLASS Academy is a small, for-profit private school across from Montgomery Park in Northwest Portland.  It has two classes per level, with classes that average 12-13 students and are capped at 15.   All students wear uniforms at this school.  While its levels roughly correspond to traditional grades, CLASS groups students by ability rather than age and so avoids the normal terminology. 

The Half-Full Scoop

CLASS Academy offers a well-thought-out program that will appeal to many families.  The facility, while somewhat limited by its small footprint and urban location, is bright, colorful, and open.  It includes a small indoor gym to allow for physical activity on even the rainiest day. 

As noted above CLASS offers small classes, allowing for more individual attention.  It breaks each class down further in the early grades for reading, with students generally working in small groups of about five for reading instruction.  Reading success in the early grades is strongly correlated with long-term academic achievement, and this individual attention helps ensure no student slips through the cracks.  The CLASS curriculum is also rigorous and somewhat advanced, which will appeal to many parents.  CLASS’s system of grouping students by ability rather than age may also appeal to parents with a child who just misses the September 1 birthday cut-off for kindergarten entry, as the school is willing to assess these students for individual placement.

CLASS also offers all students art, music, science, and p.e. every day.  Further, all students have two recesses each day.  This, coupled with a specifically designed educational system in which the day is divided into 30 minute lesson blocks that are further divided into three to five teacher-led activities that often included games and physical movement, ensures students have a lot of changes to move and be active during the school day.  Students also move throughout the building over the course of day, visiting “specials” teachers and going back and forth between the two classes at their grade for various activities.

Finally, CLASS offers a unique year-round schedule that will appeal to many working parents, as well as students who crave consistency.  With the exception of brief breaks at the beginning and end of the summer, school continues uninterrupted throughout the year.  During the summer the programs transitions to a different, less academic mode that more resembles many camps and even includes swim lessons.  This is a relief for many working parents, who aren’t scrambling for childcare coverage during the summer.  Many children also benefit from the consistency this offers. Unlike many schools, CLASS also offers full-day care as part of tuition, with teachers providing before and after school supervision, rather than outside providers.

The Half-Empty Scoop

First, with annual tuition and fees ranging from $11,330 to $11,810 depending on grade level, the school is a significant financial commitment.  Parents should remember, however, that this covers both year-round school and full-day care, however, saving working parents other childcare costs.  For parents who don’t need the extended day care, however, it may feel like paying for a service they are not using.

CLASS’s facilities may also be a concern for some families.  While the building is open and colorful, it has limited natural light and can feel a bit like the concrete box that it essentially is.  The school also has exceptionally limited outdoor space, with only a small playground.  Similarly, there is very limited parking at the school, which may be a concern for parents.

While CLASS’s unique schedule may be a positive for many parents, it is important to not that the summer program is not optional, which may be a negative for parents who have more flexibility to be home with their children during breaks, or who have children who look forward to participating in the wide range of summer camp options available in Portland.   Parents have also expressed some concerns about a high level of staff turnover, which may result from the long hours required to provide the extended day and summer coverage.

The school’s focus on teacher-led rather than inquiry-based instruction may also be a significant negative for some families.  Similarly, the intense academic push may not be an environment in which some children thrive.

Finally, the fact that the school is for profit may be a concern for some families.  The vast majority of private schools are nonprofit enterprises; for-profit schools naturally raise concerns about how the school balances what’s best for the students with the bottom-line.

The Final Scoop

CLASS Academy may be a great option for parents looking for a year-round school and extended day coverage, as well as those who like its balance of active, developmentally appropriate learning with its teacher-led instruction.  It has limited facilities but makes the most of them to offer a well rounded curriculum with lots of opportunities for movement, music, art, and science. 

Do you have a child at CLASS Academy?  Share your experience in the comments!

Monday
Nov212016

School Choice in Hillsboro: City View Charter School

City View Charter School is Hillsboro’s only charter school.  The school enrolls students in kindergarten through eighth grade with one class per grade kindergarten through sixth and a blended seventh and eighth grade.  Class size is limited to 24 students. Much to students’ delight Fridays are half days, with dismissal before lunch.  The school offers an afterschool program via an outside contractor for parents who need full-day care.

City View is an expeditionary learning school.  Learning is project and inquiry based, working to engage students more deeply in discovery.  This philosophy was developed through a partnership between Harvard Graduate School of Education and the founder of Outward Bound with the goal of creating school in which students demonstrate a deep mastery of knowledge and skills, develop strong character, and produce high quality work.  For those interested in learning more about expeditionary learning, its website provides a comprehensive look at its philosophy and principles.

As a charter school City View is free to students but does fundraise via its active PTSA.  Parents are also encouraged but not required to volunteer in some capacity.  Finally, families should be aware there is a fieldwork fee of $175 for first through eighth graders and $50 for kindergarteners due at the beginning of the year. 

City View is popular – parents tout its small class sizes and inquiry and project based learning, as well as the character education component that they feel helps create a community of mutual respect.  As a result, its lottery is competitive, often generating a waiting list at each grade.  The school says that a 60-student waiting list for kindergarten and 45 for first grade is not uncommon.

Parents interested in City View should submit an online letter of interest available on the school’s website, which enters them in the enrollment lottery.  Letters may be submitted after January 1 and are generally due in early April, with the first round of the lottery a few days later.  The school runs subsequent round of the lottery through the spring to enroll students and generate its waiting list.  Priority goes to siblings of current students, followed by students living in the district, followed by students living outside the district.

Want to learn more about City View?  The school offers an open house in late March, just before letters of interest are due.  Keep an eye on the school’s website for this year’s date.

Do you have a child at City View Charter School?  Share your experience in the comments.

Monday
Nov072016

School Choice in Beaverton: Middle and High School Learning Options

Considering Beaverton School District (BSD) choice options for your middle or high school students?  Now is the time to check these options out – applications are already available and are due at the start of the new year.  Scoop on Schools will provide more detailed profiles of the individuals schools in future posts.  Here we focus on the details of researching and applying to all the programs.

BSD offers exceptionally well-regarded learning option programs at the middle and high school levels.   These options include thematically organized programs (such as the Health Science School) as well as spots in the middle school program at the district’s smaller K-8 learning communities.  Family will be pleased to note that the district provides transportation for students attending these middle and high school learning options programs.

For students in middle school, the learning options programs include:

For students in high school, the learning options programs include:

Admission to all programs is determined via a single, district-run lottery, and students must select on their application a single program to which to apply.  This system requires students to put all their eggs on one basket and cross their fingers that they (quite literally) win the lottery for a spot in their preferred program – they cannot apply to a second choice program as a backup. 

As a result, students and families should carefully research the choices and learn as much as possible about each before making their selection.  To facilitate this process the programs offer open houses for prospective students.  Students considering entering the BSD learning options lottery should strongly consider attending these events to help them make an information choice.

Current BSD students can apply online to these learning options programs, and students living in the district but not currently attending Beaverton school district schools can submit a paper application.  Only students currently living in the district are eligible to apply for these programs.  Important dates to remember for this process include:  

  • Monday, October 24, 2016 - Applications Available
  • Wednesday, January 4 at 4pm -  Application Deadline
  • Friday, January 6 - Electronic lottery for all programs
  • Tuesday, January 10 - Letters mailed offering enrollment or wait pool status
  • Wednesday, January 25 at 4pm - Deadline to accept or decline an offer of enrollment

Do you have a child in one of Beaverton’s learning options programs?  Share your experience with us in the comments!

Wednesday
Oct262016

School Choice in Beaverton: Charter Schools

Beaverton School District (BSD), like other Portland suburban school districts takes a different approach to school choice than Portland Public Schools (PPS).  While PPS has abundant focus option schools, alternative programs, and charter schools with multiple lotteries to navigate, Beaverton offers comparatively few choices at each level with a more straightforward lottery process.  Today’s post will give an overview of the charter school options in Beaverton; future posts will look at the district’s other options beyond neighborhood schools.

BSD has two charter schools, Arco Iris Spanish Immersion School and Hope Chinese Charter School.   As public charter schools, these schools are free to enrolled families.  Charter schools receive less funding per student than other public schools, however, and both schools hold fundraising events.  They ask that families participate and give to the extent that they are able.  Hope Chinese Charter School also asks for a commitment of 30 volunteer hours per school year from its families.

Both schools follow similar application procedures – families submit an application during the open enrollment window.  If there are more applicants than spaces available, the schools accept students based on a combination of the priority categories (described in detail on each school’s website) and a lottery.  Both schools also accept applications from students living outside BSD, however enrollment priority goes to students living in the district.

While standardized tests are the subject of much controversy, their results can provide useful information for parents looking at school choice options.  Students at both Beaverton charter schools generally outperform both the state average and students at similar schools by significant margins.  Those interested in a more detailed breakdown of testing data can find it via the report cards issued by the Oregon Department of Education for each school and district in the state.

Parents should note that the district does not provide transportation for students attending charter schools, though the schools may provide resources to help parents coordinate carpools. 

 

Arco Iris Spanish Immersion School

Arco Iris offers a Spanish immersion program for students in first through eighth grades.   The school also touts its rigorous math curriculum as central to its mission.  In first through fifth grade, approximately 75% of the instruction occurs in Spanish, with the remaining 25% including English/Language Arts and more complex math instruction occurring in English.  In middle school (sixth through eighth grade) approximately 50% of the instruction is in English and 50% in Spanish.

The school is full for the 2016-2017 school year and applicants will be placed into a wait pool.  The school will accept applications for 2017-2018 during open enrollment from January 9 – February 12, followed by the enrollment lottery on March 10.  Applicants will be notified whether they are accepted or placed in the wait pool after March 10.

 

Hope Chinese Charter School

Hope Chinese Charter School currently offers a Chinese immersion program for students in kindergarten through fifth grade, with plans to add a grade each year to become a kindergarten through eighth grade school.  The school also offers a fee-based Chinese immersion preschool.  Enrollment in the preschool does not guarantee admission to the school in kindergarten or provide any priority in the lottery.

The school offers tours and information sessions throughout the school year to interested families (find the full schedule here).  Parents who are interested in enrollment for 2016-2017 should contact the school to inquire about immediate availability.  Applications for the 2017-2018 school year will be available Tuesday, January 3, 2017 and are due Tuesday, February 28, 2017.  The lottery will be held Friday, March 3, 2017, with results announced Wednesday, March 8, 2017.

 

Do you have a child in one of these schools?  If so, please share your experience in the comments!

Monday
Oct242016

The Lake Oswego Mothers Club 12th Annual Preschool Forum

Lake Oswego Mothers Club Preschool Forum

November 5 from 10 – 12pm

Uplands Elementary School, 2055 Wembley Park Road, Lake Oswego

 

If you’re starting to think about preschool for your toddler or preschooler, this event might be worth a visit.  Every year the Lake Oswego Mothers Club puts on their annual preschool forum, which provides an opportunity for parents to learn about a lot of area preschools quickly.  The event has grown year after year, and more than 30 schools will participate this year.

“What if I don’t live in Lake Oswego?” you might ask?  While the highest concentration of schools are from Lake Oswego, Beaverton, and SW Portland, this is increasingly a regional event, drawing schools from as far away as Oregon City, SE Portland, and Cedar Hills.   Parents in communities near Lake Oswego will find programs near them represented, and even those from farther away might find it worthwhile to look at the list and see if any schools that interest them are participating.

Also, if you’re new to the preschool search and don’t yet have a good understanding of the different philosophies and types of schools, let alone know which you think might be a match for your family, this event gives you a chance to talk to representatives from many types of schools at once.  It can help you get a feel for what differentiates Montessori from Reggio Emilia, and a cooperative preschool from a preschool that’s part of a larger school, for example.  The basic overview it provides can help you narrow down what you want (and don’t want) in a preschool for your child, guiding your search.

 You can learn more about 12th Annual Preschool Forum from the Lake Oswego Mothers Club

Friday
Oct212016

It's Open House Season

It’s private school open house season!  Private and independent schools are hosting open houses now through early 2017 for families applying for the 2017-2018 school year.

While it may seem crazy to be looking at schools that your child will not actually attend for nearly a year, the open house is just a first step in checking out a school and deciding whether to apply.  Many schools also offer events like parent tours, student visit days, and parent receptions to help you decide if their school is a fit for your family.  The open house is a great way to get an overview of the school, see the facility, and meet faculty, parents, and students, and decide if you want to take the next steps in learning about the school. 

What if you’ve missed the tour?  Or it’s at a time when you just can’t attend?  Not to worry – most schools are happy to arrange visits at alternate times.  It is a good idea to call the admission contact at the school as soon as possible, however, as popular schools sometimes fill their spots for student visits and other “next steps” quickly after their open houses.

Daunted by the list?  It’s understandable.  Portland has a lot of school options.  There are a few upcoming school fairs and information events that will allow you to meet representatives from several schools at once.  Scoop on School will share information about these events as they draw closer; the short story is they allow you to learn a little bit about a lot of schools quickly, but they don’t replace a visit to the schools in which you’re really interested. 

You may ask what about parochial and religious schools?  And charter schools?  And public school options?  And preschools?  The open houses for these schools generally don’t happen until into the new year.  Scoop on Schools will share information about those open houses over the next weeks and months, so stay tuned!

Finally, if you know about an open house that’s not listed here, please share in the comments!

 

Harmony Montessori School

  • Saturday, October 22 from 10 – 11am
  • Saturday, November 12 from 10 – 11am

Arbor School of Arts and Sciences

  • Sunday, October 23 from 1 – 4pm

Central Catholic High School

  • Sunday, October 23 from 1 – 4pm

Oregon Episcopal School

  • Middle/Upper School - Sunday, October 23 from 1 – 4pm
  • Lower School - Wednesday, October 26 from 6 – 8pm

Westside Christian High School

  • Tuesday, October 25 at 7pm

German International School

  • Thursday, October 27 from 9 – 11am
  • Sunday, January 22 from 10 – 11:30am

The International School

  • Preschool and Kindergarten Open House - Friday, October 28 from 9:00am – 12:00pm
  • Open House - Saturday, January 24 from 6:00 – 8:00pm

Catlin Gable

  • Sunday, October 30 from 1 – 4pm

De La Salle North Catholic High School

  • Sunday, October 30 from 1 – 4pm

Valley Catholic School

  • High School - Sunday, October 30 from 1 – 4pm (Welcome Address at 1:45)
  • Early Learning School – Sunday, January 29 from 2 – 4pm
  • Elementary School – Sunday, January 29 from 1 – 3pm
  • Middle School – Sunday, January 29 from 2 – 4pm

Northwest Chinese Academy

  • Wednesday, November 2 from 5 – 7pm
  • Saturday, December 3 from 10am – 12pm
  • Saturday, January 7 from 10am – 12pm
  • Saturday, February 11 from 10am – 12pm
  • Tuesday, March 7 from 9:30 – 11am
  • Saturday, April 1 from 10am – 12pm
  • Thursday, May 11 from 9:30 – 11am

Gilkey International Middle School @ French American Internation School

  • Thursday, November 3 at 6:30
  • Wednesday, January 11 at 6:30

Cedarwood Waldorf School

  • Saturday, November 5 from 10am – 1pm
  • Saturday, January 21 from 10am – 1pm
  • Saturday, March 18 from 10am – 1pm

Portland Jewish Academy

  • Tuesday, November 8 at 10am
  • Wednesday, December 7 at 10am
  • Thursday, January 12 at 10am

French American International School

  • Wednesday, November 9 at 9am
  • Friday, January 20 at 9am
  • Thursday, April 6 at 9am

Sunstone Montessori School

  • Thursday November 10 from 5:00 – 7:00pm
  • Thursday, January 12 from 5:00 – 7:00pm

Portland Waldorf School

  • High School - Sunday, November 13 from 1 – 3pm
  • Early Childhood - Sunday, November 20 from 10 – 11:30am
  • Lower School - Saturday, January 28 from 1 – 3pm

Franciscan Montessori Earth School and St. Francis Academy

  • Tuesday, November 15 from 10 – 11:30am
  • Tuesday, January 10 from 10 – 11:30am
  • Tuesday, February 14 from 10 – 11:30am
  • Tuesday, March 14 from 10 – 11:30am
  • Tuesday, April 11 from 10 – 11:30am
  • Tuesday, May 9 from 10 – 11:30am

Northwest Academy

  • Middle School - Tuesday, November 15 from 10:30am – 12:00pm
  • High School - Thursday, November 17 from 10:30am – 12pm
  • Middle School - Tuesday, December 6 from 10:30am – 12pm
  • High School - Thursday, December 8 from 10:30am – 12:00pm
  • High School - Thursday, January 5 from 10:30am – 12:00pm
  • Middle School - Tuesday, May 9 from 10:30am – 12:00pm

The Marylhurst School

  • K-8 Information Night - Tuesday, November 15 from 6 – 8pm
  • Open House - Saturday, January 28 from 10am – 1pm

The Portland Montessori School

  • Elementary Info Night - Thursday, November 17 from 5:30 – 7pm
  • Open House - Saturday, January 28 from 10am – 1pm
  • Elementary Info Night - Wednesday, March 22 from 5:30 – 7pm

Pacific Crest Community School

  • Saturday, November 19 from 1 – 3pm (presentation at 1:30pm)

Gardner School of Arts and Sciences

  • Sunday, December 4 from 1 – 4pm
  • Sunday, March 19 from 1 – 4pm

Montessori of Beaverton

  • Saturday, January 7 from 2:00 – 3:00pm

SUMMA Academy

  • Saturday, January 18 from 10am – 1pm

Park Academy

  • Thursday, January 26 from 7 – 8:30pm

Shining Star Waldorf School

  • Saturday, January 21 from 10am – 2pm
  • Saturday, February 4 from 10am – 2pm
  • Saturday, March 11 from 10am – 2pm

Micha-el School

  • Saturday, February 4, 10am – 12pm
  • Wednesday, March 8 from 6 – 8pm

 

Wednesday
Oct192016

An Introduction

Thanks to Jacqueline for the introduction, and to Jacqueline, Katy, and all the past contributors to Scoop on Schools for their work developing the site into the resource that it is today. I’m delighted to be able to take over the task of continuing to develop it into a thriving resource for the Portland community. 

I’m a long-time Portlander who attended both Beaverton public schools and a Portland-area private high school.  I have a B.A. from Stanford in public policy with an education focus, a law degree, and additional graduate coursework in education policy and psychology.  I’ve worked in both public and private schools as an elementary school teacher’s aide, a middle school teacher, and a college teaching assistant and advisor.  After law school I worked for several years on Oregon education policy, then transitioned to higher education administration.  When my daughter was born I transitioned again to the world of stay-at-home parenting while continuing to volunteer with education-related nonprofits.  I’ve served on the boards of directors of Portland area private schools, a public school district foundation, and other education organizations. I love education policy, schools, and helping families find the right school for their children.

I’m looking forward to maintaining Scoop on School’s strong tradition as a reliable source of information about public and private school options in the city of Portland.  Over the next weeks and months, I’ll add information about other metro area public and private schools for families exploring options throughout the region.

If there are specific topics about which you’d like to learn more in future posts, please feel free to share your thoughts and ideas in the comments – most of all, I want to make sure this site is a resource for you.

 

 

Wednesday
Oct192016

Passing the Torch

With Portland bursting at the seams, the timing couldn’t be better for us to announce that ScoopOnSchools is getting back into action! While we’ve had the honor of bringing this site to fruition as a much-needed resource for the community, it’s time to make some changes.

We are thrilled to pass the torch to Kristin, a Portland native who has worked her adult life at improving education - whether for individuals, in the classroom, or at the community level. She is prepared and ready to guide a new generation of parents who want the scoop on schools in the Portland area.

We’ll let Kristin introduce herself, but in the meanwhile stay tuned for new posts and upcoming information on school open houses. Whether you’re entering the elementary school scene, or considering a family move to Portland, ScoopOnSchools is the best place to start. And it’s about to get even better!

Jacqueline & Katy


 

Friday
Oct162015

ScoopOnSchools has been updated! 

The One thru Six step process to help you navigate your school search now has updated links and reflects the new PPS lottery rules.  These lottery changes in a nutshell: neighborhood school to neighborhood school transfers will no longer be done via lottery, but rather on a case-by-case petition basis.  And, some Focus Option and Language Immersion programs, which are still done via lottery selection, will now have a portion of their available slots weighted toward those who meet certain income eligibility requirements.

Our language immersion program list (that includes public as well as private and after-school options) has also been updated, so check out Language Immersion - The Where!

And if anyone getting into the local school scene is inspired to make ScoopOnSchools a more active site, we’d love to hear from you!


 

Friday
Oct162015

Language Immersion - The Where

This updated list shows the various language immersion programs in the greater Portland area current as of October 2015. It originally followed Language Immersion – The What, Why and When, which offers a basic overview of language immersion.  The list below includes schools that support true immersion to varying degrees, as well as after-school or weekend programs.  Note that we didn’t list separate preschool immersion programs (although there are plenty out there).

If you’ve heard of any programs not on our list, please leave a comment with information.  All schools or programs listed below are in Portland, unless otherwise noted:

Click to read more ...