I am a parent at Gardner Street Elementary School. We chose our home elementary school over local charters/magnets.
The reason the school's score dropped from an 8 to a 6 is based on last year's Common Core tests even though the California Board of Education suspended the state’s school accountability system. Moreover, the Board of Education voted not to produce an Academic Performance Index (API) for the 2014-15 SY (the index uses student results to rank schools and to identify those that need improvement). Many educational professionals strongly believe current testing measures affluence rather than learning. Gardner is a Title 1 school with 50% of its children receiving free/reduced lunch. This creates a socioeconomic and racially diverse school. However, this also means 30% of the students are learning English as a 2nd language and many students have limited access to computers/I-pads compared to counterparts at surrounding schools. This is an important fact as last year's test were electronic instead of the paper and pencil method used previously. Unfortunately, in light of these facts, Great Schools chose to adjust Gardner's ranking based on last year's test scores.
Our principal (former vice principal at Wonderland rated a 10) has made positive changes to ensure each teacher at every grade level is exceptional. Teachers are well versed in traditional & modern teaching methods. Ample training is provided to teachers to ensure they create a healthy learning environment and one that supports each child to grow emotionally.
The children receive P.E. twice a week, music once a week, art once a week and enrichment courses that are provided on a rotational basis such as drama and garden. Additionally, enrichment classes are offered after school such as engineering and robotics.
The children at Gardner are wonderful and kind. The landscaping/building structure provides a beautiful background for learning. The teachers are a perfect blend of loving and strict. Both children and teachers are taught principles of talking circles or peacemaking circles. These circles use a structural framework to build relationships and to address conflict within a community. This in turn creates an environment where children play well together.
Lastly, the parents are lovely! They are friendly and involved in making our school wonderful.
This review should serve as both a review of Gardner Elementary School (awesome!) and a rebuke of the "great schools" website (flawed!)
I relied heavily on this website to help me choose my daughter's school, earlier this year. I considered three schools, none of them my home school. In large part, because my home school received a score of 5 on this website, i barely considered it. I considered Ocean Charter, Citizens of the World Charter and Gardner Street. Those schools had scores of 6, 8 and 8 respectively. The only reason i was considering Ocean Charter with a 6, was because I have a friend who works in their office and could tell me that the school was really a special place, that the test scores were quite old (the only measure this site uses to determine it's score), that the academics were strong, and that the place was just wonderful. In the end we chose Gardner based on our multiple visits to the school, conversations with the principal and teachers and parents, and on the fact that the Principal had come from Wonderland Elementary (they have a 10). I admit that I cared about our 8, that I hoped it would go up. But checking the site recently the scores I mentioned above have flipped drastically. From 6, 8 and 8 to 9, 9, and 6.
Did those other schools go from being mediocre to excellent in one year? Did Gardner go from high achieving to middling in one year? Obviously that's impossible. The leap in numbers alone indicates how meaningless the scores are.
There were major technical difficulties with the tests administered at my school, and that the test only scores kids from 3rd to 5th grade and most importantly, that it was a new test administered on iPads that failed to work. When our administrator complained of the technical failures she was assured that this is just the first year of this test, and they are working out the bugs on this round, and that nothing will come of lower scores.
Except on the internet. Where we have lost two full points and have had our reputation as a Great School tarnished.
It won't change our minds, we are having a wonderful year in Ms. Janet's kinder class and enjoying art twice a week, PE twice a week, music, drama, garden and library. We love it. You might too. Just ignore that meaningless number.
The grade dropped from 8 to 6 for this school. Im not surprised. A lot of good teachers left, no homework, no gifted students/classes. Thanks to Mr. Rosner. Gardner was one of the best school in Los Angeles.
I would like to invite the writer underneath this post to back to school night. We will be extensively going over the kindergarten curriculum and how we differentiate instruction for all learners. Have you actually talked to the teachers? Where are you getting "we do nothing" all day from? I am a kindergarten teacher at Gardner and spend countless unpaid hours working hard to develop a curriculum that meets the academic, social emotional, and developmental aspects of an appropriate kindergarten age student-as well as writing grants to obtain field trips and other materials to extend their learning. The kids spend the day learning math, writing, reading, learning science in the garden, going to music class, drama class, developing their fine motor skills, expanding their social emotional growth, etc. The start of the year might seem "slow". We do spend a little extra time going over rules, procedures, building a classroom community , etc. Studies show that having a classroom with consistent procedures and a sense of community have a great academic pay off. We also have to spend time assessing the children to understand the academic needs of each individual student. The kindergarten students tend to range academically. Some can read and some are just learning their letters. They all are ready for kindergarten and all will learn a ton this year. A child who is already "reading" their teacher might focus on fluency, reading comprehension strategies, spelling, developing their writing, etc. Other children might need more of an emphasis on phonemic awareness strategies. The kindergarten teachers collaborate at least twice a week developing lesson plans to meet the children's academic needs. For example- we all teach writing EVERY day. None of the children are writing perfectly now! They ALL have room to improve. We keep their writing samples in a folder and they get sent home at the end of the unit. A beginning of the year writing sample might not look like much-without some explanation of the story or phonics behind it. Examples of beginning of the year writing lessons are: teaching kids how to develop writing ideas, punctuation, what to do if you don't know how to spell a word, labeling, etc. All 3 classes have been teaching the same lessons. I am running out of room. Feel free to discuss any academic concerns with the 3 of us! Sarah N!
My son just began Kindergarten program , and honestly I feel very upset. Even though it is a kindergarten, why 5 years old children basically do NOTHING!!! The teacher explains that some of the kids are not ready, but I personally think they need to gain this knowledge, I do not like my son and other better prepared children wait when all of them will be equally uneducated! I will see, if situation will not change, we will try to find another option for more serious education.
I'm a teacher and a parent at this school. I started working at Gardner last year while my daughter was attending a different LAUSD elementary school. When I saw the level of dedication that the principal, faculty, and staff have here, and all of the programs that make Gardner special, I just had to bring my daughter here, too. Our family is really happy with that decision. It's a wonderful school. Since I've been here I have received training in Writer's Workshop, Reader's Workshop, and Council in Schools (a wonderful community-building practice). As was not always the case at my previous school, these trainings are not just one-time things and then forgotten; we receive ongoing support. I love that the school offers students extras like organic gardening, art studio, Playworks PE, computer lab, music, and drama in addition to the regular academic curriculum. The students get a well-rounded education. Finally, the parents have been warm and helpful, and I look forward to meeting my new group of students and their parents this year!
Our daughter started Kindergarten in the fall of 2014. We were nervous about sending her to an LAUSD school, but felt it was important to support the public school system and give our neighborhood school a chance. We couldn't be happier. Our daughter loves going to school every day. Not only is she learning math, reading and writing, but with the use of Council, she is being taught how to communicate in an open and effective way. The new principal has done wonders for the school. He's brought in phenomenal teachers and workshops for them. He's an amazing leader, he puts the important things first and he cares about the education that the kids in his school are getting. The school is constantly growing and changing for the better under his leadership. We have loved getting involved and it's been exciting to be a part of growing and improving our neighborhood school.
We decided on going to Gardner over our local 'high rated' charter school and we are so happy that we did!!!! My daughter started kindergarten this year and she absolutely loves everything about this school. The new principal is great and I feel has made a huge difference in making this a top school. My daughter's teacher is Ms. Sarah and she is absolutely incredible: attentive, caring, sweet, intelligent and most of all, knows how to have the right balance of play and academics. I was incredibly nervous about my daughter entering LAUSD and whether she would thrive in this environment. She came from a small, private, play based, reggio pre-school and I was worried she wouldn't do well in a more academic school. But Gardner has created an excellent balance of social/emotional development, academics and creativity. I especially love their 'writers workshop,' and the after school STAR program. My daughter has truly blossomed since attending this school.
I am personally offended by the comment written below! The principal at the school has implemented so many wonderful programs. These programs are Writing Workshop, Council ( this fosters social,emotional and community development), and purchasing leveled libraries for each classroom. The stakeholders at Gardner work hard to implement additional educational programs. They have funded a music program, a physical education program, computer lab, gardening class, and an art lab. The teachers and staff members are constantly working together. We share ideas, acitivities, and collaborate on our lesson plans. Most of the faculty puts countless of unpaid hours to develop the curriculum for their students and well being of the school. We do this with love, passion, and dedication. The parents and families at the school are amazing. My classroom parents are always there to volunteer in the classroom, help fix my computers, assist in art lab, volunteer in the PTA, the list goes on! Gardner is so lucky to have the best principal, best teachers, best staff, best parents, and the best students. Anyone would be lucky to be a part of this nurturing community!