On Tuesday, October 23 (2012), DCPS, in collaboration with Ward 6 parents, hosted an International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme (IBMYP) information night.

Principals Rachel Skerritt (Eastern HS), Natalie Gordon (Jefferson Academy – MS), and Tinika Young (Eliot-Hine MS) spoke, shared their vision and each school’s status vis a vis the IB accreditation? process (apologies, I’m no good w/ technical details).

“IB Bob”, DCPS’ IB rockstar (I can’t remember his official title) and the IB Coordinators for Eliot-Hine and Eastern also spoke, and did a good job of describing the integrated approach to education that comes w/ IB. I think I understood that the curriculum is still under construction, though they were able to share a sample unit.

video was played and there was an opportunity to chat with the educators afterward. I left feeling inspired by the energy and commitment displayed by the speakers. The bits I understood (and I’m still a little confused) sounded a lot like Montessori, which is, of course, music to my “Montessori Mama” ears. There was a bit of tweeting (me on behalf of CHPSPO), and overall positive feedback.

I was particularly interested in hearing from Principal Young, as Eliot-Hine will officially be the middle school my children’s school will feed in to, effective the year my son starts 6th grade. My husband and I told Principal Young we would pay an unannounced visit and she was welcoming and receptive. I also got to chat w/ parents who have started showing up unannounced and was glad to hear positive feedback.

While I felt good about the overall experience, if I’m honest, I don’t know that I would be comfortable sending my son to Eliot-Hine. If I’m really honest, this is based 100% on opinion, perception and the lack of positive feedback from folks I trust. That night, I decided to test my biased ‘gut’ against something a little more objective – heuristics.

Before I visit any of the schools (including attending open houses), I’d like to put together a set of heuristics against which to compare the schools. The idea is to compare how each school ‘scores’ vis a vis things that are important to me (beyond test scores, folks!) and see whether at the end of this journey, my ‘top’ schools score better, (or worse) than my perceived ‘not viable’ schools.

IB Bob agreed to help me from an educator’s standpoint, but suggested the best place to start is with what is important to me. Since I know there are many parents going through this right now (hmmm anyone know an easy way to get data around how many 4th graders are out there in DCPS + Charters?), I would be grateful for input from others (and that includes the student’s).

My (and my child’s) priorities are the following. If you have others to add, please add to the list below or tweet #middlechildinDC