Most students of the school are from nice families. Parents' involvement is good here. I believe the other reviews said that "the API is good because the school has good students" to be a true statement.
I sent my kids here for Mandarin but it did not meet my expectation. I believe the main problem is the leadership of this school. The principal Diana Hallock knows nothing about Mandarin or any other foreign languages. She is obviously incompetent to be a principal at a Mandarin immersion school. The Mandarin teachers who already work here for a few years often do not listen to her at all. Diana Hallock has no ability to lead them so she often bully newer Mandarin teachers . As a result , this school has a very high Mandarin teacher turn over rate. Last school year alone, three Mandarin teachers left, including my son's teacher. It is not good for the students. I will not be surprised if other Mandarin teachers will leave at the end of this year.The principal has lots of problems. Many teachers have complained about her because she was rude and disrespectful to them. Good Mandarin teachers have many job opportunists in CA. It seemed to me like College Park can only get teachers who do not have very good Mandarin language level to stay at the school because they cannot get a position elsewhere. After 8 years, the school still do not have Mandarin curriculum. I am very concern. The Mandarin teachers also seemed very divided to me. No consistence across grade levels. I am sure Mandarin teachers work overtime here but I don't know how much that helps when a school has no standards ,no curriculum. Unfortunately, a teacher told me that she regretted she chose to come work for principal Hallock ,which is a shame.
This principal tried to change the uniform to black and red color. Parents stopped her. Many parents said she is a pain to deal with. What I am not happy about is the quality of Mandarin instruction. When many teachers are leaving a school, it is NOT a good sign!I am hoping the principal will retire or get fired by the district soon so college park can have a competent leadership. No curriculum after 8 years proved that the school need a better principal.
College Park is just ok. Most of parents who send there kids here is because they want to avoid Chinese schools on weekends. In terms of how fluent they will be, that's anyone's guess. 3rd grade and up, there is no set mandarin curriculum. My understanding is that they're simply translating the common core curriculum and teaching that instead. And I do agree with the other parents that the rising scores is mainly due to the student demographics, and not that the teachers are all that exceptional. Most of the parents here are wealthy with advance degrees and focus heavily on the children's academics. Private tutoring, Kumon, and after school programs are common for the students. My plan is to go all the way up to 5th grade and stop mandarin immersion altogether. The plans for the 6-8th grades are not set in stone and right now it's at Bayside Stem where it is getting very little attention. If you have time and money to donate to this school, this is the school for you. Student to teacher ratio is also on the high side, 24:1. So teachers rely on parents to help correct and grade the homework, be in the room as aids, and of course, help kids outside of class.
We have had our children here from preschool onward. We have no Mandarin at home or in our family. Our kids enjoy school and are doing well with the language all on their own without outside help. I don't see any more afterschool tutors or help at our school than I do all of the local kids at English-only schools who have been going to Kumon since they were 4 years old. Parents will always shape their children's education and provide support. This is a positive factor! And parents definitely need to stay on top of the Mandarin and English workload. All CP students take the same standardized tests as the English-only schools, and you only need to look at the test scores to realize that the kids are doing just fine. But my 4th grader also wrote an essay on American Indians, in Mandarin. Pretty cool.
The only reason this school appears to be successful is because of the parent population. After changing from a neighborhood school serving socioeconomically disadvantaged children to being the Mandarin "immersion" magnet school for the district, affluent families began sending their children here. The majority of students are either privately tutored to supplement the curriculum or attend academic programs after school. The administration deserves no credit for rising test scores. As for this being a language immersion program, it is not. Only in this school year is Mandarin supposedly taught for 50% of the school day. In previous years the percentage was significantly less. Prospective parents, don't believe any hype about College Park. Send you children elsewhere to learn Mandarin.
This is a Mandarin "immersion" school. What does that mean? The school still must meet state and federal guidelines/expectations with respect to language arts, social studies, science, and math in our country's native English. The addition of Mandarin is not simply an add-on separate and distinct language course unrelated to the overall curriculum as is typical in middle, high school, and college level courses. But rather it is integrated with the comparative English requirements. For example, the science of our solar system and elements/structures of life are taught in English and Mandarin. Thus, the Mandarin component learning reinforces the English curriculum while contemporaneously teaching its own elements of grammatical structure, writing skills (i.e. traditional character stroke order), and oratory pronunciation and annunciation. But wouldn t this limit the school-day allocation of English learning? Not necessarily. Some required learning such as Social Studies are taught exclusively in Mandarin. After all, topics such as this are more conceptual in nature. Not to say that the hard sciences are excluded. Far from it. Math is taught in both English & Mandarin.
Of the fifteen elementary schools in the San Mateo-Foster City School District, only one is pending award in 2014 as a "California Distinguished School"; that school is College Park Elementary and the award should be granted as early as late April. It is a credit to the Principal, Teachers, Parents, PTA, District Superintendent, and ancillary support from the local community, former and current state elected officials (who enthusiastically attended recent fund-raisers), and the Friends of Mandarin Scholars organization. The high API scores and its continuing upward trajectory (among all demographics) speak for themselves. This is not a neighborhood school but rather an "application only" school; i.e. you must desire to attend, follow a strict application process, and be accepted for matriculation into the school. This is a public school that presents itself as a private school with its closed gated campus, comprehensive remodeling, uniform-only student apparel, and small class sizes. Parent involvement (creativity, financial, and time) is highly prized -- how many schools have as many Kinder parent-student extracurricular private events? Likely few. A very unique school.
I agree that College Park is a very polarized school. That being said, the API improvement for socio-economically disadvantaged students was 46 points, 7 points higher than the school performance overall. That means the score increase came by working with kids who need help, rather than pressuring students to leave. The technology instructor, Gifford Canteens has worked with students identified by teachers as challenged readers. They receive additional computer instruction on auditory and language processing. If I were a parent looking into an elementary school based on purely the academic opportunities for my child, I would ignore the PTA pressures and consider College Park.