My take on kids schooling in California, USA.

The motivation of the post is a discussion that me and my friends discussed over a dinner. Families moved from decent school districts to GREAT (Ranked #1 in that State or County) and pay exorbitant rents and living costs. This is a small effort to understand how the schooling system here works.

Consciously or Subconsciously we all send kids to school to gain knowledge, social network, social skills and finally get into the main stream work life or career by undergraduate and graduate degrees. Well, a school’s rank is definitely based on the Students, Parents, Teachers, Public Funds, Private Funds (in case of private schools), Infrastructure and Passout or Graduate %. As i understand these are the main criteria that we as a parent really worry about.

Looks like the US Undergraduate Universities are eying at students from all over the country who are like the TOP 5% (or even top 10%) of the Middle School and High School. This means, the top 5% of the students (in Honor role) in a school have the chances to write the tests conducted by the local universities. e.g. my niece who is 7th grade in NY got to write the John Hopkins talent test which eventually helps them to choose some good candidates. Of course, its a race between many universities to get the best students again to boost their own ratings.

This criteria makes me believe that it is OK to have kids in good/decent school district where they have the opportunity to excel. In that level, any school with a decent API give s great deal of attention to your kid. The purpose of the Academic Performance Index (API) is to measure the year-over-year growth in academic performance for California (or any other State) schools. The API summarizes a school’s standardized test scores into a single number, which ranges from 200 to 1000. The statewide API goal is 800 for all schools; higher numbers generally indicate better performance on the tests.

Now, look at the other aspect of sending our kids to a school that has TOO much of competition and TOO much of pressure. E.g. Cupertino School District.  Kids undergo too much or pressure and distress to keep up with the TOP 5% results and we (some parents) get upset as our kids are not in the TOP 5% (as some may have even moved to Cupertino from else where and are spending higher rents and mortgages). Unconsciously, parents have high expectation on kids and it becomes similar to our EAMCET or IIT coaching stuff. As per my experience, i see less of my friends (in Cupertino) who sends their kids to other extracurricular activities compared to Fremont, Pleasanton and Sunnyvale friends. The fact is the kids in Cupertino HAVE to keep up with the competition to do well.

As long as kids have decent education and overall development, i would not too much worry about the school rankings. Of course, in my view, they should definitely go to a decent school which is probably above 850 API. I am motivated by the fact that every person from IIT and IIM is not a super star while there are more chances of becoming one.

As a closing remark : A person’s success is based on variety of factors than mere Intelligence and School.

What do you think ?

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