Superintendent Dubious About Study Calling Watertown Schools 'Unattractive'

The study on a real estate blog does not capture the real picture, said Superintendent Jean Fitzgerald, who added that the Watertown schools are growing.

Watertown Superintendent Jean Fitzgerald took exception to the study released recently by real estate blog Trulia Trends that called the school district one of the least attractive systems in the country based on the ratio of preschoolers moving on to the public schools.

The study found Watertown had a .67 ratio, or 67 of every 100 preschoolers in town moving on to the public schools, was among the bottom in the Boston area and nationally. Cambridge and Somerville had similar ratios, with .68 and .67, respectively.

"It's a false statistic," Fitzgerald said. "They might be moving away, and not everyone fills out the (town's) census."

According to the town census, added District Director of Business Services John Loughran, the schools would have 1,000 fewer students than actually attend Watertown's five public schools.

"At least 1/3 of parents did not fill out the census," Loughran said.

In fact, Fitzgerald said, more students are coming into the Watertown schools, including those moving on from preschool.

"We added a kindergarten class this fall," Fitzgerald said.

In 2011-12, the Watertown schools had 2,659 students in grades Pre-K to 12, according to the Mass. Department of Elementary and Secondary Edcuation. That number is up 10 from the previous year and 212 more than 2004-05, according to the district's website.

One reason why the numbers may be off, Loughran said, is Watertown, along with Cambridge and Somerville, is a densely populated town which people move in and out of at a high rate. 

What do you think? Are you planning to send your child to the Watertown Public Schools or somewhere else? Share your thoughts in the comment section below. 

john smyth September 26, 2012 at 10:52 PM
the watwertown public schools are terrible
Earnhardt September 27, 2012 at 01:40 AM
yup... :)
Earnhardt September 27, 2012 at 01:59 AM
K Coyne September 27, 2012 at 01:49 PM
This statistic should not be the basis of the conclusion. They need to also take into account the incoming/transient population here in Watertown among other things. The growing population of kids in the schools could counter that conclusion. That said, the other statistics pertaining to the ranking of the school is much more interesting. The study I mention is the school rankings which was based on and weighted in this order: 1)Mcas/SATS/Advance scores 2) Graduation Rates/% to College 3) other factors like student teacher ratio. This showed that our school system ranks in the middle of all the schools West of 495(not all of MA). I don’t believe that we should base the quality of our children’s education solely on statistics but they certainly show a trend and should be examined! Questions: why are our SAT scores 16-20% lower than the highest SAT scores(and only 87% graduate/go to college)? I think that some of our social-economic differences we have here in Watertown are great but they may create challenges. I do believe that class size does make a difference in a more diverse community. My one thought is Parent involvement and communication from Teachers<->Parents-<>students..the more all are involved and engaged with each other the better the school system/students overall. Are there enough opportunities/challenges for kids in Elementary and Middle school so that they can be truly good critical thinkers in High School? What do parents think?


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