Agree with all the comments about hit or miss teachers. Tend to agree with comment about strong Lafayette boosters not really understanding what a good school is. Strong fundraising has not improved the quality of the school and there doesn't seem to be any interest of the parents to do so, there is more interest and motivation in protecting the feeder to another DCPS. Odd. We will hopefully go charter next year but this will thankfully be our last at Lafayette. Fingers crossed that we will have luck on our side for teachers.
I am a former student of Lafayette and I have just graduated from the fifth grade. Lafayette is an amazing school with so many opportunities for all ages. The kids are respectful of one another and I feel I have learned a lot in the past seven years. I only have experience with 2 bad teachers but the others were fabulous. I made so many friends at lafayette and I will miss it horribly. Overall, I recommend lafayette as a school to any child. -Elise R
Lafayette may still be one of the strongest elementary schools in DC, but unfortunately it has many problems. My child just graduated from 5th and the experience has definitely been mixed. First and third grade teachers were excellent, second and fourth grade pretty solid. Kindergarten and fifth grade teachers were awful. The fifth grade at Lafayette is a disaster. Our child's teacher was extremely disorganized, unkind towards the children, and left projects uncompleted. This awful teacher was hired just two years ago, which leads one to wonder how a school with a good reputation accepted someone whose standards are so low. The positives are the good teachers, the fantastic art teacher, strong music program and arts integration. Parent involvement has been historically extremely strong, which has helped the school raise money for arts programs and renovations, but seems to be falling off. The kids are mostly great and there is very little bullying or behavior problems but some parents can be cliquey and snobbish to a comical degree for a group of adults.
Lafayette is a good school. Maybe not great, but it does a fine job given the limitations faced by any school. The music program is great - there are lots of instruments available to the student to use, for free. The only real reason I am posting here is to provide a little balance to some of the angry comments. I'm disturbed by references to "uneducated" parents in more than one comment. Is this some sort of coded language for differences of race, class, or neighborhood? I guess I shouldn't be surprised, but I am. In any case, don't get dragged into the sniping and criticizing. There are pluses and minuses to every school - Lafayette is no different. Show up, get to know your kids' teachers and the staff. Say hello, smile. Be friendly. You might be surprised at the good things you will see and hear.
Thank heavens the school year is over! This will be our last year at Lafayette and I won't miss it. No my child is not graduating, we are just pulling her out to get her into a good school. One of the odd things about Lafayette is all the hype and rah-rah that surrounds it. The parents who think it is an excellent school, tend to be uneducated themselves, so are unable to distinguish a good school from a bad one. I am so glad we won't be returning, this is a happy day for at least one Lafayette parent. We are getting our child out before too much damage has been done, and she is not too far behind her peers.
We relocated from the SF Bay Area last year and our children (first and second grade) were previously in a small private school. Lafayette as definitely an adjustment for them but at the end of the school year they both had tears in their eyes because they were leaving their teachers and friends for the summer. The thing that sticks out for me is the ownership of the school that the parents have taken on. The previous post has it wrong, we found highly educated, caring, and well rounded parents at Lafayette. Very few schools are perfect but we are very happy to be part of the Lafayette community.
There is a high variation in the quality of teachers, but the biggest problem is the literal lack of walls. The school uses dividers, or sometimes rows of lockers or cubbies, to separate classrooms in otherwise large open sections of the school. Unfortunately, this does not reduce the sound from other adjacent classes. The refusal to construct actual walls between classes makes it very difficult for the children to focus on the teacher an also makes it very difficult for the teachers to keep the children's attention. The school benefits greatly from the wealthy families who are able to raise considerable amounts of money to fund equipment and additional teachers.
Five years in and we are more and more disappointed each year. Our expectations were never beyond fair but still we find the academic and social aspects of Lafayette way below average. Parent involvement is good but teacher quality is not consistent. The principal, who has a background in high schools is always barking at the children and my kids fear her. Fear, not respect. . Her approach is degrading and sometimes humiliating. We wish private was within our budget. General school communication is good with a weekly news letter and robo calls but for years, communication with teachers is awful. Most won't respond to emails and it can be very confusing to keep up with homework, projects and field trips if you are relying on a 9 year old to convey everything.
Lafayette seems to suffer from the classic problem of how hard it is to get rid of bad teachers. After 5 years years of wonderful teachers at lafayette prek thru 3rd grade...we have suffered the bad attitude of a teacher this year, While great leadership from the adimin staff seem to be helpful, the end result is the children in this 4th grade class seem to learn nothing other than adults can be mean spirited too. IT is so hard to see how three of 4 teachers in a grade can be amazing and one can be out right detrimental. We had a fourth grader who had an amazing year last year learned a lot and had wonderful and kind teacher. We have our second son in 4th grade this year and have a different set of teachers and a totally different experience. Lafayette really suffers from the hit or miss teacher lotto and complete inconsistent curriculum from classroom to classroom in each grade.
The discrepancy between the reviews has to do with the differences between parents of Lafayette students. Parents who have limited education, limited life experience and little exposure to the rest of the country, rate Lafayette high. They don't know anything else. Parents who are educated, have more life experience and know about educational standards in other parts of the country, find Lafayette does not meet their expectations.
Our son attended Lafayette from K-4. He received the best marks possible each year. DCPS tests these kids to death and our son consistently scored at the top of his class. Unfortunately, we had an unpleasant wake up call when we moved to Md and he began grade 5 in Montgomery Co. His new teachers reported that he was very behind his new classmates. We noticed that he was struggling. We were so surprised because according to DCPS, he was at a 7th grade level in reading and 6th grade level in math. We assumed that he'd be placed in the gifted and talented class in Mo.Co. Apparently, DC standards are very low compared to most US school systems. A very tough break for a kid who was accustomed to being one of the smartest in his class. His confidence was shattered. I guess Lafayette and a few other NW schools may be the creme of the crop in DC, but in a school system that is consistenly rated one of the worst in the country, what does it mean to be one of the best in the city? Google DCPS ranking/ ratings. You'll find a plethora of information about DCPS being the worst school system in the COUNTRY. We saw what we wanted to see at the expense of our kid.
Reading these comments, you might wonder why there is such disparity between the rave reviews of some and the disappointment expressed by many others. My explanation: 1. Lafayette has many talented, motivated, and kind teachers on its staff. If your child is lucky enough to end up with several of these teachers in a row and you don't experience the alternative, you might legitimately wonder what all the fuss is about. Unfortunately, even more of the school's teachers are not strong, and some are downright bad. 2. Parent "leaders" and the principal persist in denying problems and dismissing conflict. For whatever reason, they discourage discussion of opportunities for improvement and marginalize parents who raise issues. As a result, everyone--parents, students, other teachers--knows who the "bad" teachers are, but the principal doesn't do anything about it. 3. Lafayette students perform well on standardized tests due to their socioeconomic advantages, not because of anything the school does. To attribute that success to the school is tempting, but a mistake.
Lafayette school is a good public school in DC. Parents are very involved and the school is a center of the neighborhood. Crowding is a problem as it has become very popular in recent years.
Tough to know how to respond to some of these disgruntled parents without knowing what grade their kids are in, or what the context is for their comments. Both of my kids have excelled at Lafayette. My 2nd grader is at a 5th-6th grade level in Math and Reading. My 5th grader is leaving Lafayette at an 8th grade level in Math, 7th grade in Reading, with amazing experiences in competitive sports, art, music, leadership, and conflict resolution. Of course some teachers are better tha others - that's life. No parent depends solely on their kid's teachers to make sure they learn, and yet I haven't made any herculean efforts with my kids outside of the classroom, and no tutors, etc. Sorry if some kids are faling through the cracks, but the numbers speak for themselves and Lafatte is a top 3 elementary scool in the DCPS and on par with the better public schools in Montgomery County, MD.
Abysmal education. Thank goodness this school year is ending soon. Our Child learned very, very little at Lafayette. The entire year was chaos, lack of communication, poor teaching, absent teachers, minimal homework...a general mess. Most parents in our child's class agree that this year was a total loss for their kids. Nice neighborhood, involved parents but the school has tanked due thanks to a mass of bad or teachers who are "over it" with their profession. There is only so much a parent can do at home afterschool and on weekends to compensate. Now we get to spend our summer scurrying to catch our child up.
NOT a good school or investment in your child. If you are a smart parent, go enroll your kid at Janney or something. Lafayette's standards are terrible and dysfunctional. I'm being serious, you will not end up happy at lafayette unless you are VERY lucky with teachers each year.
Our children do not fall thru cracks at Lafayette, they fall into sink holes. Unless your child is placed with a competent, caring home base teacher, you can pretty much assume that you, the paren(s) will be your child's primary educator for the year. My best estimate, having been a Lafayette parent for 7+ years, is that 60% of the teachers are decent to great and the other 40% are fair to terrible. These same undesirable teachers return year after year after year with the same below average results. It isn't just the classroom teachers, either; Special Ed and ESL teachers are no better. The children and their educations are not top priorities at Lafayette. The school is terribly over crowded. Lafayette is made to accommodate roughly 500 students but there at over 700 in attendance. The fire code sign about capacity in the cafeterioum (the cafeteria & auditorium are one shared space) is ignored as it is over capacity on a daily basis. If it we're for the parents, their "voluntary" contributions and parents association, Lafayette would be considerably worse. There s a lot of shame to go around at Lafayette.
It breaks our hearts to admit this but Lafayette has truly declined in the past 5 years. The main topic at after school pick up amongst the many parents is the very poor quality of teachers and pitiful principal leadership. Each grade has 4 teachers divided amongst about 100 children. Generally there are 2 good teachers for each grade and two horrible teachers. It is luck of the draw each fall when kids are assigned to a teacher. The bad teachers never leave and are not fired, regardless of how poor their students perform. When any of my children have been placed with the underperforming teachers, my wife and I spend the entire school year teaching our kids the basic material they should have learned during the school day. It is a huge burden but we can't let our kids slip behind. We often wonder why we pay such high taxes in this neighborhood- for what! Every Lafayette family we know is fortunate to have one stay at home parent or tutors. Without that luxury, Lafayette test scores would be considerably lower. This year, Our son and his classmates joke that there teacher is the dead guy from "Weekend at Bernie's"- physically present- mentally absent.
My husband and I are very involved in our kids education. I have the luxury to be with our kids each day after school. Our kids get undivided attention during homework time. . Without this daily help, our kids, both who have tested as above as above average IQ, would slip thru the LARGE cracks at Lafayette. More often than not, my kids struggle with their homework because they did not learn the lesson during class time. Ultimately, I end up teaching the concepts/skills necessary for them to do well. 50 of Lafayette teachers are wonderful. The other 50% are an absolute disgrace. These lousy teachers do the absolute minimum required, which Involves barely showing up. Lafayette had gone downhill in all aspects over the last 8 years. It is over crowed, the principal is ineffective, she puts band aides over catastrophe discipline issues and turns a blind eye to some clearly horrid teachers. This year, there have been some very serious discipline problems at Lafayette. Not general elementary school problems but Senior High school level problems. Many issues get brushed under the carpet and there is quite a bit of CYA going on at Lafayette.
The strength of Lafayette continues to be the quality of the parents who choose to send their kids there. We all know that can comprise 50% of the equation for a good education. To pay $15,000-$35,000 for an uncertain marginal benefit that a DC private or parochial school might offer over a quality public elementary school like Lafayette is nice for the uber-wealthy, but not anyone else. To the parent who claims 50% of Lafayette kids have paid tutors after school, that is a gross exaggeration. It's probably 5-10% if that. The school is crowded, and like any school, there are very good teachers and some who are not so good. But my 2nd grader has been there for 3 1/2 years and is at a 5th-6th grade level in both math and reading. If you are an active parent, your child can flourish at Lafayette, and you'll have plenty of money to spend on tutors, activities, and summer camps to further their education if you want, and still come out way ahead financially.
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