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Single-sex Education Shows Benefits

Carolyn Means - Tuesday, August 07, 2018

The Gurian Institute developed from the work of Michael Gurian who has written numerous books on how boys and girls learn in ways that differ from one another. Their recent e-newsletter referred to an article on this topic in Education Week, citing not only gains in test scores, but also those "soft skills" which are hard to measure but make life much better and learning more successful. In Dallas ISD comparisons were made between coed schools and all girls or all boys schools. The measurable gains in reading and math were clearly evident, yet the more impressive "gains" were summed up in the comments by the boys. In comparing their former coed school experiences, the boys reported that students in their current school were calmer and less disruptive, more cooperative and built friendships more easily. The boys said they liked the emphasis on leadership, forging stronger relationships and helping each other become better students and peers. For the all girls school, the benefits were greatest in the freedom girls found to explore math, science and technology. Single-sex schools in Houston include The Regis School of the Sacred Heart, (preschool thru 8th grade) and two high schools for boys - Strake Jesuit Preparatory and St. Thomas High School. We have three high schools for girls - Duchesne Academy of the Sacred Heart, Incarnate Word Academy, and St. Agnes Academy. St. Thomas' Episcopal School offers a coed program in Bridge and Kindergarten, single sex from grades one to eight and coed in high school. 

Thrive Academy - A New Houston School

Carolyn Means - Wednesday, July 18, 2018

My life's passion is for children to find joy in learning. I often use the phrase, "I want to find a school where your child will thrive." So how excited was I when Dr. 

Chris Zaddach, Interim Head of School and Admission Director, invited me to coffee to hear about a new school with the awesome name of Thrive Academy! Thechild who could be a perfect fit for this school is entering Grades 1-8 and has yet to find joy and success in school. Thrive will offer a low stress environment where there is a tolerance for movement, conversation, creativity, and achievement in a rich curriculum. This could be a child whose abilities are overshadowed by poor communication and executive functioning skills that often result in anxiety, discouragement and lower than expected achievement. The school has been dreamed of and backed by a strong group of parents and professionals. Thrive Academy is located at 1231 Wirt Road, just north of I-10 on the campus of the Houston Mennonite Church. Read the flyer on the Thrive Academy Facebook page for more about the mission of this new school. 

The British International School of Houston

Carolyn Means - Monday, July 09, 2018

Recently I had the great pleasure of touring The British International School of Houston - which is actually located in Katy on N. Westgreen Blvd. Definitely not the former British School, BISH is now owned by the Nord Anglia School group, and they really know how to design a school.

The building is four stories high and architecturally stunning with an atrium featuring the "Bomba" - a huge cafeteria on the first floor.  The family I was touring with was greeted by the Head of School, the Assistant Head of School, several members of the Admission staff, the heads of several athletic programs and the chair of the music department. All questions were welcomed and answered transparently. The school can serve students with a range of academic abilities from age 2 to high school.

There is a learning center for all grades and differentiation is a common instructional strategy. Students come to TBISH from across the globe or across Greater Houston for the excellence in education, the quality of the IB Diploma plus the State of Texas diploma, and the expansive array of extracurricular offerings. Partnerships with the National Jr. Olympic Swim Team, MIT, and Julliard, The Texas Medical Center, NASA and local offices of world-wide energy corporations enhance programs across the school. The distinctive international community is stimulating and reflects the world this generation of students will encounter. The school provides bus transportation to some areas of Greater Houston, so this should be a school to visit regardless of the location.  

STEM at The Regis School

Carolyn Means - Tuesday, April 10, 2018

STEM is the big curriculum magnet at schools these days. At The Regis School of the Sacred Heart, STEM - Science, Technology, Engineering and Math - is a perfect focus for a school providing a unique education for boys ages 3-8th grade. The youngest boys learn to write code with legos on the library wall or bots in the elementary maker space. They design mazes with tape on the hallway floor. Older boys in the Mac lab create original designs which they produce on 3-D printers, learning the value of precise measurements. New furniture on wheels spins, goes up and down and across the floor in the math lab where boys work in pairs and groups on math projects and games. Since my last campus visit two ping pong tables have been placed in open hall space, golf and tennis have been added to the athletic options, and the new lights on the playing field have promoted more night games on campus. Eighth grade graduates this year will be headed for some of the following high schools: The Kinkaid School, Strake Jesuit Preparatory, St. John's School and St. Thomas High School. 

How to Manage a Wait List Decision

Carolyn Means - Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Admission Decision: "Wait list" "Wait pool" How Should Parents Respond?

After all the months of going through the admission season, it's frustrating when your child ends up on a waiting list at your top school. Hopefully, your child has at least one acceptance at a second choice school, but is there is a chance you child could get off the waiting list?  In my experience as an admission director and 14 years as an independent educational consultant, I have seen many students get off the waiting list at their first or second choice schools. 

Who gets on the waiting list? Are wait lists ranked?

Some schools wait list all the qualified applicants they cannot take, while other schools keep a small  "wait pool". In either case, there is a small, unranked group identified as priority candidates to choose from. Schools often choose a student from the wait pool who closely resembles a student they did not get in order to keep balance and diversity in the class.

How should parents respond to a wait list letter? How long do schools keep a waiting list?

When students are wait listed, the school will request a reply in the form of a return post card, phone call or email to state if the student wishes to remain on the list or not. Parents should notify the school as soon as possible so the school can begin to assess who will remain in their wait pool.

After a week or so, call the admission directors for an update on how the list is looking. Admission directors try to give parents an accurate assessment of their child's chances of getting off the waiting list. Sometimes a "wait list" decision is a "soft no"; sometimes the school really wants a student and tells a parent they think they will go to the waiting list soon. Sometimes a school gets more acceptances than they expected, so that class will be "over-full" and the school will not go to their wait list.

My experience is that some students get off the wait list within two weeks, but others are still waiting on the Common Reply Date. A few days after contracts are due, schools assess their numbers and then contact their wait-listed students. For some students, this is too late because they have already enrolled at another school. As long as the school shows interest in keeping your child on the waiting list, and you would be able to accept a place if offered, you should stay on the list.

Need help getting off the wait list or making the right school choice?

Managing wait lists and deciding on which school to accept is a service provided by School Solutions even for students who did not go through the admission season as our client.  If you want proven, effective strategies to make sure you are accepting the right school offer, a Consultation could be the best way to end your admission season with the right school choice.

Houston Private School Admission Myths #3

Carolyn Means - Thursday, February 01, 2018

HOUSTON PRIVATE SCHOOL ADMISSION MYTHS

Real Information Parents Can Use by  

Carolyn Means, M.Ed., CEP, Houston’s Day School Consultant

Myth #3: To make sure your child gets accepted to a school, make a big donation.

Parent: “I hear that if we want our daughter in our first choice school, we need to make a big donation. Should we give $10,000 or $50,000?”

Myth #3: The Truth: The truth is that parents should not make donations to schools they apply to. This can put the school in the embarrassing position of returning the donation, accepting it and not accepting your child, or being talked about as the school “where money gets your kid in”. The only exception to this rule is if the parents already have a relationship with the school as alumni or as parents of a current or former student. It would be appropriate for these parents to donate at their typical level to the annual fund, for example. Many Houston schools have an abundant supply of wealthy parents in their applicant pools, and money is not going to influence the admission committee. Schools have learned hard lessons from admitting unqualified students based on the parents’ potential to generously support a capital campaign. Always remember, the focus of the admission process is the student, not the parent’s bank account. There are many ways that a school can discover the potential financial support of an applicant’s parents, so save your donations until your child is enrolled.  

Private School Admission Myth #2

Carolyn Means - Tuesday, January 30, 2018

HOUSTON PRIVATE SCHOOL ADMISSION MYTHS

Real Information Parents Can Use  

Carolyn Means, M.Ed., CEP

Houston’s Day School Consultant

Myth #2: Parents should not be truthful on applications.

Questions on School Applications:

Has your child had educational testing in the past?

Is there anything you would like to tell us that would help us know your child better?

Has your child been diagnosed with a learning disability?

Is your child currently taking medication?

Has your child been asked to leave a previous school?

What other schools did you apply to in the past?

Parent

“Oh, no!! This is an application to the school of our dreams and I have to answer these questions? If they find out the truth, my child will never be accepted.”

I get this reaction often, but my experience with schools has always proven that being truthful is the right choice. Of course, sometimes my client and I discuss a situation and determine that the answer is, “No”. Other times when it is clear that the answer is, “Yes”, I explain why schools need this information and why being truthful will benefit the child.

Myth #2: The Truth The truth is that schools want to partner with parents. Partnerships begin with a truthful application.

When parents are not truthful on applications, they begin a network of fibs that can come back to haunt them. Admission directors are not expecting to find perfect applicants. When they learn that a child has a learning differences or an unfortunate past experience, they want to know what support the student is getting and if it is sufficient for the student’s success.

If you have concerns about how to answer these types of questions, come see me for a SCHOOL SOLUTIONS Consultation to talk about how being truthful can benefit your chances of admission to a school. Often I can help parents with application responses by talking through the issue and helping them understand how the school might view it in a positive light.

Private School Admission Myth #1

Carolyn Means - Tuesday, January 30, 2018

HOUSTON PRIVATE SCHOOL ADMISSION MYTHS

Real Information Parents Can Use  

Carolyn Means, M.Ed., CEP, Houston’s Day School Consultant

Myth #1: Top Houston private schools select students with the highest grades and test scores.

Parent: “Our son Jack just earned a perfect ISEE score of four 9’s! His OLSAT score was 140!!  He has dedicated his school years to becoming a perfect student. Test prep and tutors have taken up all his time, but with his high honor roll grades Jack should get into all the best high schools. What more could the schools want?”

Myth #1: The Truth: The truth is that low test scores may keep a student out of a school, but it takes more than high test scores to get a student in.  Without a doubt, admission committees will take notice of ISEE scores of 8 and 9 stanines. However, schools know high test scores are not predictive of success in school. High test scores could be the result of test prep, but not an inquisitive, creative mind. That is why teacher recommendations, class visits, and interviews are highly valuable parts of the admission process.

When choosing candidates for a new 9th grade, schools today want to make a diverse class of students who will add richness to the educational and social experience of their peers during their years together as a class. Schools look for students with a variety of academic strengths, athletes for every sport, actors and stage crew, musicians, artists and dancers, filmmakers and journalists. Applicants with much to offer outside the classroom may not have top entrance scores and grades, but they may be curious and gifted and role models for leadership. 

If you want to know more about entrance tests and the range of test scores that Houston private schools typically like to see, make an appointment for a SCHOOL SOLUTIONS Consultation. We can discuss test prep resources and a reasonable approach to helping your student become sufficiently prepared for the next admission season. If you want some ideas for helping your child develop the talents and strengths schools are looking for, that is also a good topic for a Consultation with SCHOOL SOLUTIONS Consultant, Carolyn Means.

“The Cusp of Confidence”

Carolyn Means - Tuesday, March 07, 2017

I love it when I hear a new phrase that captures just what I want to say. Jerome Schultz, Ph.D., Harvard Medical School, spoke to the HBIDA Conference on March 4 about not Dyslexia, as one would imagine, but Stress. Most of us know about “toxic stress”, that long-term, destructive stress that can damage our immune system, and “tolerable stress” which is short-term and we get over it or adapt to it. Good stress is the kind we feel in a situation where the challenge “hits the sweet spot”, or the “cusp of confidence”. I think of a “right” school as one that puts students on the “cusp of confidence” – a rigor and pace that asks for a reach without causing anxiety. We want to put our students at a point where they balance stress with competence, confidence and control.

ISEE Scores Are Coming In

Carolyn Means - Friday, January 27, 2017

Tears. Shock. Joy. Sighs of relief. What is the reaction at your house? The Independent School Entrance Exam scores are coming in. With these scores, hopes can rise or fall depending on whether the scores are in range of what the target schools generally want to see in applicants. The ISEE is one of the toughest tests a student will take. I tell my students to think of sharks in an Olympic-size pool – only the strongest and fastest are in the pool and they are all fighting to the finish line. Students don’t believe me until they take the “Practice Test”. Then reality sets in and they are ready to devote every weekend until January to test prep. Adding another layer of anxiety, new guidelines allow students to take the test more than once and choose the score set they want to submit to schools. I often say that ISEE scores will not get a student “in”, but they can keep a student “out”. Students who read good literature for pleasure and those who can quickly and accurately compute have a huge advantage over students who don’t like reading and have weak math skills. As an educational consultant, I do a lot to help my families manage all aspects of the ISEE.


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Nothing is more important than your child's education. SCHOOL SOLUTIONS in Houston, Texas, offers educational consulting services to help parents make the right choice for their child’s school. As an Educational Consultant and founder of SCHOOL SOLUTIONS in 2004, I have helped over 1000 students find the right fit at over 90 different Houston private and public schools, from preschools to high schools, including special needs schools.

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Recent Blog Posts

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