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Public district
Santa Clara, CA
Students enrolled: 350

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270 Washington Avenue
Santa Clara, CA 95050

School website
(408) 423-3900
(408) 423-3980
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Map of Washington Elementary School address.
March 23, 2015
As with any major decision, you have to consider what is right for your family. We love WO and have had a great experience. Though this school is not known for being academic, we have had a positive experience and any concerns have been addressed; our child has grown & improved in areas where we were concerned. A new principal came in our second year and she has approached obstacles very professionally (keeping the children as the main focus). A few other reviewers mentioned the 'gossipers,' this is going to happen anytime you get groups of people together and it is all about how you communicate with those people. Our family has never had a problem with other parents or staff at school but I sure every person will have a different experience. If you want to be in a school where you can truly be involved, Washington Open is worth looking into.

- submitted by a parent
January 23, 2015
I cannot agree more with the previous review and cannot describe better the atmosphere. There is this false impression of community harmony that attracts parents to the school only to realize after couples of months how much gossip and fakeness resides under all this. The K teachers are great, so it is hard to realize immediately that the academics are missing from the whole child concept. For us, 3rd grade was a total disaster with 3 teachers barely communicating with each other. Therefore, the information we received about our child was contradicting and deceptive making us to take paths we regretted. It could have been worse if some teacher would not have come back to help. Finally, we found in 4th grade that long waited and promised academic recovery. The school philosophy and vision are misleading parents making them believe that this is the ideal place on Earth to have their children educated. In reality, it is only a bunch of teachers who know what the whole child concept is about and do everything to keep it alive. And there is another bunch of teachers who hide behind it to make an easy day to go to work. In other words, this school is not what it seems.

- submitted by a parent
January 15, 2015
Potential parent beware! We heard plenty of whole child , and you ll be lucky to be admitted (BS) that we decided to look past the negative reviews and only focus on the good. Unfortunately, we were admitted. At first we were excited to be a part of our child s community and invested wholeheartedly from fundraising to aftercare; but things started to change they went from bad to worse, much worse. Our child was put into dangerous situations and when it was mentioned the supervising staff it was shrugged off as not a big deal. Behind the friendly faces of the parent group and staff is a vicious bunch of gossip hungry, fake individuals who feed off wide-eyed kindergarten hopefuls. This is not a negative towards our teacher, she was lovely. But we are thankful EVERYDAY that we got out when we did. Your child s wellbeing both educationally and emotionally will be better off elsewhere, not to mention your time and money. Good luck and don t be misled.

- submitted by a parent
May 09, 2014
My family absolutely loves Washington Open! We've always educated our kids using the "learning through play" style. We went to a parent participation preschool for 3 years and then onto Washington Open. I was told by a few other non-WO parents that my children would not receive a good educational foundation here, as there really is no academic structure. Well, after a few years at this school, my children are both excelling at academics and socially. They aren't afraid to ask questions and they love the field trips and how hands on the learning is. Thank you WO for providing my kids with a great learning environment!

- submitted by a parent
October 04, 2012
My child attended WO for Kindergarten and first grade, this year we have moved out of state and are attending a more traditional, academic school. I love WO and miss it a lot. I enjoyed working with the kids and getting to know all of them. I loved the community spirit and I felt genuine warmth and caring towards myself and my child from all the staff and teachers I met. I love the center style small group learning at WO that allows teachers regular 1-on-1 time with the kids, classroom flexibility for fun and interactive projects, and allows kids to learn from many different types of activities. They also get plenty of socialization time. It was a fun and happy place to be. I can't speak to the academics of the upper grades. I think parent involvement (supplementation) is always a must regardless of the school type. I felt the K-1st activities provided a foundational understanding of numbers, and promoted a love of writing and reading. The children learn more from interacting with numbers, words, people, and problems in different ways than from direct instruction. Our new academic school gets great test scores but doesn't inspire my love (yet).

- submitted by a parent
August 14, 2012
I am very disappointed with WO!!!! Both of my kids were there since Kinder...and I just pull them out this year. The whole child concept is great, but my children isn't whole because they didn't have the academic side of it. There are good teachers and not so good either, but more missed placed than anything. If you have kids that is going into third grade...good luck. You need to supplement a lot at home. They don't teach them anything..!!! Oh don't even think about bringing it up to the principal...she won't help, but make it your problem to deal with. The teachers are way too entiled there. I was disappointed to say the least. From what I heard and experienced...WO was a good school that has gone down hill.

- submitted by a parent
July 13, 2012
I am surprised by the response of parents to a neg. review. I think that while some of what the person said might be from personal feelings, I don't think that you can count it out. WO is NOT academic . The reason children do well on Star is because of parents who supplement at home. The teachers have gotten a little lazy and feel entitled. I have heard 3rd grade teachers say they don't get paid enough to put up with the class. I find that interesting since santa clara teachers are the 5th hightest paid in the state. I think that we can be both acedemic and social, it doesn't have to be one or the other. I also think that the principal is more worried about her image than making sure that her teachers do their jobs.The only way you can make it a better school is to acknowledge the problems and find solutions, sticking your head in the sand and pretending the school is perfect is not the option. I also resent the notion that if you disagree then its not the school for you, That is like saying there is no room for discuss. & change. Lets not forget that WO was started by parents who wanted change and a better learning environment for their child, that didn't mean sacrafice education.

- submitted by a parent
July 08, 2012
As a parent of Washington Open, I am very surprised by some of the negative reviews, but everyone is entitled to their opinion. This has not been our experience at all. WO is not a place were as parents you are always going to get your way, but we have found the school to be very fair and balanced with all decisions. We have found the teachers and staff to be very professional; concerned that our children are getting the best all round education not just academics, but social and emotional, and learning life/people skills that will serve them for the rest of their lives. This has been a great fit for our children, a caring fun environment where children are allowed to learn with teachers that truly care about our children s development. I have found the Principal to take charge and deal with all issues that arise and not sweep anything under the table or to ignore them no matter what the issue may be. WO is a unique environment for learning that may not be right for everyone, but it has been a wonderful fun experience for our children. Oh and they are learning a lot, both academically and in developing life s skills, the end result will be successful adults.

- submitted by a parent
June 11, 2012
As a parent at WO, I am very disheartened by the recent reviews of our school. If academics is what your family values most in an elementary school, then WO may not be a good fit,but if you are looking for a school that looks at each child as an individual&sees potential in who they can become&provides an environment that can help guide them to reach their full potential,then yes WO is the place to be. Admittedly, academics aren't aggressively pursued, but then again the test scores aren't too shabby either. WO provides the right mix of emotional, social,&personal growth interspersed with the 'traditional' academic program,WO after all still has to meet state standards. What they are doing though, is meeting those standards while also teaching our 'future' how to think out side of the box. This includes how to communicate effectively with a wide variety of people,how to have their voice heard&needs met without being afraid of authority. Yes, to some, that may seem 'disrespectful', but taken in the context of it being a life skill they will use always, isn't it really a gift we are giving them? So to all that feel that their children are 'suffering' I wish you the best of luck.

- submitted by a parent
June 10, 2012
I am also a parent from Washington Open. I agree that the school is not strong in academics and I also agree that there are some wonderful teachers and below average teachers. However, I strongly disagree that children are being groomed to be unmotivated, disrespectful citizens from the previous review. I have known this family at the school for a while. The mom is always late (always more than 15 minutes late) picking up her son and the dad simply just doesn't do too much with the boy. The boy is the most disrespectful kid I have ever met in my life. We as parents need to teach our kids to respect us and others. When the kids are constantly being ignored at home, you will of course have an unmotivated and disrespectful child at home and school because they are craving for the attention. The person who wrote the previous review maybe need to look into the environment he or she is providing instead of blaming the school. Most of the children I met at the school are very respectful, loving, and sweet.

- submitted by a parent
June 06, 2012
As a parent of 2 children at WO (3rd&4th), I feel very disappointed at the lack of academics that my children are getting. I am expected to do 110%at the school, but then I also need to do 110% at home to keep them academically on par. This wouldn't be so much of an issue if the whole child philosophy was adhered to, but unfortunately it isn't. My children are being groomed to be unmotivated,disrespectful citizens and I feel that this is not the school for us. What sealed the deal was my year long tenure on the parent board. This parent board which should be representative of the parents/families at WO really is just a few people who like to hear themselves talk. The high and mighty attitudes get in the way of real issues that are facing this school, such as bullying, a principal that doesn't do anything by way of leading, teachers that can't teach much less control the class they have. I'm so disappointed that I let my children suffer at the hands of the whole child philosophy for so long. My only hope is that I can get them in a school that can truly meet their needs and help other families make a informed choice of elementary school. best of luck, a very concerned parent

- submitted by a parent
May 02, 2012
The school's whole child philosophy is great in theory, but unfortunately the reality doesn't match the school's philosophy. There are issues with bullying that are not adequately addressed, I agree with the 3rd grade parent where the "principal encourages everyone to trust the intention" but she is not giving us a reason to trust her intention. These (many) incidents of bullying have been brought to her attention, but that's where it ended. No action taken and the problem still exists. To trust the intention is one thing when your child is safe and feels safe, but in all honesty, that 'intention' can't be trusted when not all of the children are feeling safe. Here is where the "whole child" philosophy gets lost.

- submitted by a parent
April 25, 2012
I'm giving the school two stars because third grade was so disappointing and difficult. The school's "whole child" philosophy is great, but some of the teachers and the principal's behavior do not match the philosophy. The K-2 grade teachers were kind, patient, and pretty effective at classroom management. However, third grade was chaotic; the third grade teachers were sometimes unprepared or only half prepared with lessons (this is very frustrating when you are working in the classroom). One teacher often gave verbal instructions, and then changed her mind about the instructions half way through giving them. The students AND parents were often confused by this. Consistent written instructions would have been helpful. She didn't consistently use the classroom management tools, so the classroom was often out of control. She sometimes made idle threats. She yelled and was sarcastic. The principal encourages everyone to "trust the intention," but she is unhelpful when problems arise. She is often not a good listener and doesn't trust the intention of the parents. When parents approach her with a problem, she'll often make accusations or ask accusing questions.

- submitted by a parent
January 07, 2011
Both of my daughters have gone to this school, and I was very pleased with the teachers and the overall parent involvment. I would recommend this school to others.

- submitted by a parent
December 16, 2010
Lots of parent involvment, good teachers for the most part. Overall, a solid school to attend.

- submitted by a community member
November 27, 2010
I agree entirely with the other three star reviews: too much parental involvement (required), too little teacher input, low self discipline, and concerns are resolved their way, if addressed at all. The hands-on, fun atmosphere is nice, but over the top, and though test scores show students are performing well now, I worry about their jr. high and high school years. I like to be supportive of my kids education, and involved in the process, but I was relieved to leave this school.

- submitted by a parent
no rating October 15, 2010
The teachers are fantastic and dedicated. Parents are very involved and the school has a great "community" feeling.

- submitted by a parent
no rating April 24, 2010
This is a parent participation alternative school. There is so much 'extra' effort put into the multi faceted curriculum by teachers, parents, families and of course the students, it deserves to be a favorite school.

- submitted by a parent
January 29, 2010
This review submitted without content.

- submitted by a parent
October 05, 2009
Love the way everyone looks out for everyone's kids and how everyone is so involved!

- submitted by a parent
September 15, 2009
Best choice I made was to send my 2 children to Washington Open. The hands on experiances give so much more meaning to what they are learning. The places they go on field trips are wonderful, enriching the learning process so much more. Every teacher is terrific. Yes, it takes volunteer time but hasn't been as hard as you might think and I am a working parent. My children are getting a whole community of support. Great life lessons. Learning made enjoyable so children love school and want to learn.

- submitted by a parent
August 26, 2009
This review submitted without content.

- submitted by a parent
May 21, 2009
As a Washington Open parent of 6 years, I agree that this school is not for all families. If you expect a traditional setting where 'discipline' looks like children quietly working at the their desks, this is not a good place for you. If you believe in whole child education, view the learning process as an ongoing one that will hit benchmarks at different times for different children due to variations in development, and are willing to put yourself into the school community and not just look for a place to ship your child off to every day, this place is miraculous. Great teachers, huge range of activities made possible by the parent association, and a focus on life learning and not just book learning. So perhaps API scores are under 900, but Washington Open kids tend to excel as they move forward, as they know how to work together.

- submitted by a parent
March 27, 2008
I would disagree that there are no formal programs to teach fundamental academics. Each child is accepted at whatever level they are and supported to excel. While the activities at this school do 'appear' different than a traditional school (lots of centers, movement, activity, noise), there is a lot of learning that is taking place. More importantly, the kind of learning that is happening includes taking responsibility, making appropriate choices, and resolving conflicts, as well as traditional academics. Kids leave this school with a solid sense of who they are and how they learn. Each child is regarded as an individual with social, emotional, and academic needs. Students are active participants in their own learning, not bystanders. They take part in student-teacher-parent conferences to set personal goals for themselves. They are motived to learn for the sake of learning, not to get a reward or good grade.

- submitted by a parent
November 10, 2007
We had 6 years at Washington. It is a fun school for the kids The parental involvement is exhausting- much more time than a 1 morning/week workday. There were at least 20 field trips per year per class, plus a class committee job and outside prep-I was spending 1 day per week preparing to teach on my workday. There are no formal programs in spelling, vocabulary, or penmanship. The reading program does not use phonics. We had to pay for outside tutoring in phonics to teach our child reading. The math is too low level for some kids. We also had to use a home school spelling program. It was a fun school, but we had to compromise too much on the academics. There is a lack of discipline, and too many disruptive children. Our oldest went there-but we put our youngest at a more academic school.

- submitted by a parent
November 09, 2007
This school is awesome it it soo wonderful! And everything about it just makes everyone happy! the overnight feild trips are wonderful! and the teachers are so understanding, espetialy Jennifer the 5th grade teacher! this school is just soo great!

- submitted by a parent
June 26, 2007
Washington Open is not for everyone. While there are may positives, such as parental involvement and teaching kids to like school, there are also many negatives. The school seems to attract families that don't believe in discipline and the classes can be out of control at times. We've had some really good teachers and some really bad ones, so like any school you really have to pay attention to the environment and academics. We are not convinced this is for us.

- submitted by a parent
June 14, 2007
This is a nice school for many, but not for all. They go over the top in many ways, which makes school fun for the kids (maybe too much), and exhausting for the parents - no grades either, and an extremely casual atmosphere. The teachers delegate to the parents and the parents do the teaching and discipline (with teacher supervision), which doesn't seem wise. I never really know who is working with my child, let alone their background and teaching abilities. The staff talks about how fantastic the school is when doing the required pre-application observation, but does not realistically state what the school is like. And the staff is difficult to work with when there is a problem - unless you resolve it their way. If the fun and relaxed atmosphere make up for the negative, then this is the school for you.

- submitted by a parent
March 24, 2007
Excellent School! Very caring staff and administration. Children learn how to be intrinsically motivated and how learning can be really fun. Parents are required to work in the classroom. This is a great place for families who would like to be involved in their child's/children's education. My children are excelling academically as well as socially, and emotionally. They love hands-on learning and field-trips we go on. Favorites are 5th grade science camp and pioneer days in 3rd grade.

- submitted by a parent
August 15, 2006
Very good teachers who truely care about the kids. I think the parents take things for granted, particularly about childrens behavior outside schoolastic activity, that they don't need to monitor/watch them...they should.

- submitted by a parent
February 05, 2006
This review submitted without content.

- submitted by a parent
January 01, 2006
Washington Open is truly a community unto itself. The education is hands-on, nurturing, and well-rounded. Parents must be ready to commit time and energy to this school; but luckily, the more you give, the more the students (and the parents) get.

- submitted by a parent
October 02, 2005
Washington open is a wonderful school. My children have thrived in it.All of the teachers want to be there and that really shows. The hands on learning approch is effective. Washington is a lot of work for the parents so if you do not want to be involved in the classroom this is not the place for you.

- submitted by a parent
September 12, 2005
Great school. Big emphasis on getting children to be internally motivated. Conflict resolution is also stressed. Parent participation is not only encouraged, but required. One morning a week is required as well as some type of classroom job. Every grade level takes about 10-20 field trips a year.

- submitted by a parent
August 17, 2005
It is an excellent school for those wishing to be involved in their children's education. There is a heavy emphasis on field trips and hands on learning.

- submitted by a parent
February 22, 2005
Washington Open is model for what all educational learning experiences should be about. Parents are requied to volunteer 3 hours per family per week. This allows hands on learning experiences, many field trips, and individualized support for each student. The school is based on community, mutual adult-child respect, and problem solving, with these elements in place academics naturally blossoms. Teachers, administrators, staff, and volunteers all respect each child's individuals learning style and develoment time table. Assessments are based on observations, portfolios, and the child's daily work, not tests. Children learn to seek out adults for support and fellow students for collabloration. Music, art, sports and many field trips are funded through one main auction funder raiser. My son graduated last year. It is a great school. I can't say enough good things about the experience we both had there. My son has made a wonderful transition into a private school.

- submitted by a parent
September 06, 2004
Pretty good school. Parents can see how the kid is doing, how the peers are, and help the kids in the areas he need help. Teachers are very good, the whole school is like a community. I am very impressed, I wish they had this parent particiaton system all the way to high school.

- submitted by a parent
January 27, 2004
Great school for social development in lower grades. Look twice at the academics in 4th and 5th. Written work not held to a high standard. Very little feedback from the teachers to the kids on quality of work done. No grades. Many/most parents supplement at home. Excellent field trips in all grades.

- submitted by a parent

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Last modified: March 23, 2015

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Washington Elementary School
270 Washington Avenue, Santa Clara, CA  95050
(408) 423-3900
Last modified Washington Elementary School is a Public school that serves grades K-5. It has received a GreatSchools rating of 8 out of 10 based on academic quality.
Washington Elementary School Rating: 4 out of 5 based on 38 reviews. Top