My son is a first grader and we are in the spanish immersion program - which is excellent. It amazes me how effective - and wonderful - the teachers are given the incredibly diverse student population. My son went to a private pre-school (montessori education) and I feel like Bailey's is along the same bend (as you can be in a public school setting). The experiences the children receive - with the arts and sciences magnet ad the CETA program are unparalleled. Is the school overcrowded - yes. FCPS has identified a solution to ease the overcrowding and return the current Baileys building to a small-school environment (it will be a lower school, K-2, beginning in the 2013-2014 school year.
I have two children at Bailey's and am very happy with the school. Maybe we have been lucky but we have not had any communication issues. One of my children has sensory issues and received extensive speech and OT through preK. We had him privately evaluated before kindergarten and were told he had caught up and didn't require services anymore but later, after we expressed concern to his teacher at Bailey's, the school was very proactive about evaluating him, providing suggestions, and monitoring his progress. I was a shock to us after hearing from parents at other Fairfax schools that you have to fight for services. My youngest is in the Spanish immersion program which is an amazing option.
Bailey's could be a good school, but it has simply grown too large to be manageable. While there are many different programs available to kids I think for some kids it is just too much and does not leave enough time to focus on the basics. Also the teaching for us has been hit or miss. We have had some excellent teachers we have also has some bad experiences. If your child is outgoing, thrives in chaos and loves the arts then this is a great school. If they are reserved and enjoy focused structured days then it may not be a good match. I think the enrollment this year is more like 1400 with no good way to reduce that in the near future. Although the class size has remained a constant 20-22 kids. To do that they have put trailers on every possible piece of open space leaving much less space for play.
If you measure the school by your children's happiness then Baileys is great. If communication is important to you well then look elsewhere. I learn more from my third grader than from any representative of the school, which is sad. The teachers and administrators seem used to dealing with less involved and less informed parents who might not ask questions or exhibit interest. Homework is non-existent. Not sure we will stay.
We have had a great experience with Bailey's. My son is finishing kindergarten and is sad the school year is over and that he has to wait until September to go back. He had a terrible preschool experience (not at Bailey's) that destroyed his confidence and left him hating the idea of school. His wonderful teachers at Bailey's were a key reason he reagained his confidence and now loves school. He is leaving kindergarten able to read, write and do basic addition and subtraction. The full day kindergarten program was very important to us (as opposed to the half day offered at many other Fairfax County elementary schools) and the wide variety of special classes (art, music, pe, dance, etc).
I have had one child go through Bailey's and a second one almost done. Both have done Spanish immersion and seem to thrive in the creative and diverse environment. It is not perfect and is not a school if you think homework is an indication of scholastic rigor. Instead, the teachers encourage the children to think critically and learn facts in an interesting way. More work needs to be done with the Spanish Immersion program, mainly given the children need some grammar structure and the middle school doesn't really have the capability to continue the program well. But it has certainly given both children good accents and a solid start. Parents who get involved see the beauty and the magic of the school--others, who may view it from a distance, are quite likely to assume the worst. I"m pleased my children have had this experience and hope that Fairfax County Public Schools continue to ensure that it can continue.
Don't let the low GreatSchools rating fool you--Bailey's does NOT "teach to the test". It is a science technology and fine arts magnet school. The teachers emphasize hands-on exploration and collaboration. My first grader loves science and comes home excited everyday. This week she wrote observations about the eggs hatching in her classroom, she ate a salad made of vegetables she grew in the school garden, and in her creative movement class they are working with their teacher to choreograph a piece on slavery. Her field trips this year included two trips to the portrait gallery to study portraits of Americans including George Washington and Rosa Parks; trips to the Kennedy Center (who the school partners with); and visits to the Lincoln Memorial to see where Martin Luther King gave his famous "I Have A Dream" speech. She wants to be the first woman scientist President. The teachers and the administration--in our experience so far--have been fabulous. Bailey's has more county teachers of the year than any other elementary school. They are dedicated to the students and to the mission of the school. Bailey's is a unique school and not for everyone, but we love it.
We are a first year out of boundary family at this wonderful school. We were thrilled to have won the "lotto" and Bailey's has not disappointed us. We wanted our children here first and foremost because of the Spanish immersion program. It is unbelievable. However, Bailey s diversity is shaping my kids in ways no other school could have. In my experience, the teachers and staff have always been helpful and academics have been very challenging. My kids are thriving here. This is a very special school and my kids are getting the well-rounded education I hoped.
Bailey's has been a huge disappointment for me from an academic perspective. I find that the teachers have very low expectations of the children, and teach only the bare minimum that the children need to get by. I feel the teachers are not prepared to go the extra mile for children who are performing above the bare minimum. I also feel that you are dismissed if you bring this up to any of the staff at Bailey's. My advice to any parent who values their child's education, don't send them to Bailey's. This is coming from a parent who really would love to keep her child at Bailey's because of the diversity. My other comment to parents trying to parse the various reviews, note that a lot of the good ones were all on or around October 5, 2009. I prefer to focus on the ones that a parent chooses to do on his/her own, rather than ones that appear to be a part of a concerted effort to boost Bailey's ratings--that's just my opinion.
This was previously a good school (2001ish), but it has gone downhill since. My daughter went to a private pre school and many children from her private pre school went to this magnet school because of the reputation. However, since then, every single parent from my daughter's pre-school class (including myself) has removed their child from Baileys because of its horrible administration, poorly trained teaching staff, and poor learning environment. IF AT ALL POSSIBLE TAKE YOUR CHILD OUT OF THIS SCHOOL IMMEDIATELY.
All in all, this has been an excellent school for our family and we feel very lucky to be here. Make no mistake, it is very diverse and a large percentage of children are from low socio-economic backgrounds. However, they and all students are challenged and given a very rich experience- both artistically and socially. From a partnership with the Kennedy Center to every child being given a violin to bring home in 3rd grade, Bailey's students get all the amenities of a private school, with public school access. Every room has a Smartboard. Grants flow freely from numerous sources and the teachers are exceptional. The administrative staff has an open door policy and an amazing work ethic. I thank God we "won" the out of boundary lottery and are able to attend!
Bailey's teachers work so hard and find creative ways to teach an astonishing diverse student population. They give students (some who have never been in a school before) a fantastic foundation to build life-long learning skills and a committment to others.
Bailey's Elementary School for the Arts and Sciences is a unique school. It draws diverse students both from the nearby neighborhoods and from all over Fairfax County because a certain percentage of out-of-boundary students can enter via a lottery system. Baileys has some students in the Spanish Immersion program. The school has a superb, talented, and commited staff. The school is a CETA school meaning that it has a partnership with the Kennedy Center and integrates the arts into the curriculum. I have three children at Bailey's, have worked in education for over 20 years, and have never experienced a school as special as Baileys in my life!
Bailey's is able to reach and educate not only my child, but also children who do not speak English, children from many different cultures, and children with special needs. There are a variety of programs at Bailey's that help to keep the kids connected to the school, and Bailey's teachers and staff are top notch.
I love Bailey's for the incredible community from the teachers, parents, kids and partners. Baileys is forward thinking, innovative, creative and provides a warm, creative learning environment. We are an out of boundary family and choose to send our kids to Baileys.
Bailey's has wonderful dedicated teachers. It is the office and administration staff that I beleive are in desperate need of change. They are extremely rude (putting it politely) they lack the touch that is needed to work with children.
Bailey's teachers use up to date teaching techniques and aren't afraid to use different approaches. The school strives to be a community.
Baileys has an excellent staff and an abundance of parental participation. Bailey's is also one of the more diverse elemenary schools in the country and fosters an environment like no other.
spanish immersion, the arts, especially the opportunity that all 3rd graders play the violin! the international nature and the organized chaos that seems to work so well!
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