Hello, we are researching schools for our son who will be going into kindergarden. We live in the Zia district and would love to hear about the school from other parents. The dual language program seems appealing as does the after school program. We are also considering Cien Aguas charter school and Montessori of the Rio Grande (if he gets in). Any thoughts?

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My kids do not attend Zia so I can't comment on my own experience. Zia has not fared so well in the recent state assessments and for 2011-2012 it is ranked as in need of "corrective action." Its hard to find out info on exactly what that means, but it involves the incorporation of certain "best practices" to try and improve performance. I take all these assessments with a grain of salt, but do think it provides some perspective on a school (though not the only one). You can visit this page to see the APS school "report cards."

 

http://www.rda.aps.edu/RDA/ReportCard/index.cfm

 

The info on the "corrective action" status is found in section IV "Annual Yearly Progress (AYP) Results" There are similar recent state assessments that would include charter schools as well, which would help you compare Cien Aguas and MOTRG. Again, one should take these with a grain of salt, IMO. But I would have concerns that about 47% of students were deemed "not proficient" in both math and reading at Zia. I would want to speak with the principal about that, their reaction to the assessment, and what they are doing to address the issue. I wouldn't rule it out based on the assessment, but does point one to areas you might want to inquire about and investigate.

If you are considering schools based solely on test scores, you will find yourself with an extremely short list from which to choose.  Zia's Dual Language Program has a strong history and a solid reputation.  One of the most veteran DL teachers in APS, David Wilson, teaches a 4/5 combo at Zia.  He is an excellent teacher and has always held high standards for the program and his students.  The program is 50% Spanish and 50% English.   Some families prefer this model, especially if you have concerns about total Spanish immersion. 

My daughter is a first grader at Cien Aguas.  We have been pleased with the faculty and program there.  Cien Aguas is a 90/10 model at kinder, so Spanish in the home may help the student adjust more easily to the classroom.  Hope this info helps.  Good luck with your decision.  I personally don't think you can go wrong with either choice.

Zia is a small school with barely 500 students.  It is home to about 100 special ed. and visually impaired students.  These numbers skew the test results.  There is also a high ESL population.  Btw, the vi program has students from all over the district.  Many of the special ed. students were enrolled as a result of the Child Find program and stayed on because they liked the school.  Apparently a D level kinder teacher was especially awesome.

My wife teaches special ed there.  I know how hard she works.  She is there 1 1/2 hours before the kids get there, takes no breaks, stays until 5:30, and then comes home to do record keeping online.  She is working now as I type this at 8:00 pm.

It is a wonderfully diverse community with some great teachers.  There is a low turnover of teachers and great parent involvement.  The afterschool programs are wonderful.  And the principal really values early childhood education.

Thank you for the comments, they really are helpful. I had no idea how difficult it would be to chose a school.
Also, I am definitely not focusing on test scores. I am more interested in hearing about people's experiences with Zia. Patrick, it is good to hear that you are happy with Cien Aguas too. Any other comments from parents/teachers, etc would be useful information for us to consider.

(Sorry that I'm replying a bit late, but my membership took a while to get approved/verified.)

Our child has attended Zia for the past 3 years, and we have been very pleased. Both the teaching staff and the administration have been excellent, the environment/grounds are very nice, and there is a good socio-economic and cultural mix of children which I view as a benefit to the school experience. There are a lot of extracurricular activities as well: Family Focus Center, garden club, chess club, sports, etc.  We have had experience with the special ed programs from both the gifted and non-gifted (special needs) sides, and have found the programs to be well run and attentive to our child's needs. (This is a testament both to Zia and APS - whose bureaucracy sometimes, I feel, gets a bad rap.)

When we were originally researching schools, we sort of bypassed Zia (even though it is our local school) because it doesn't have as much of a "rep" or get as much press as others in the area. However, we haven't once regretted our decision to send our child there. I consider it an overlooked gem of the APS system.

Granted, I'm a fairly biased parent, so take my opinion as you wish. That being said, you should definitely come and visit the campus to see for yourself. 

Thank you for your reply! We have been there to visit and we have used the Zia playground since our children were babies. The campus is great indeed. We just weren't sure how we felt about our children attending a traditional APS school, as we had in mind that they would attend a charter school instead. I really liked what I saw on the tour, but it is just so hard to decide on a school when you visit them for about a half hour.

Hi Samantha, I know it's been a long time since you posted this, but I was wondering if you did decide to enroll your son at Zia. My husband and I are seriously considering moving to Albuquerque and are planning a visit in January, during which we will visit Zia and possibly some other schools. I would love to hear your thoughts. If you prefer, I can PM you. Thanks!

Yes, we sure did! Now, my daughter also attends Zia and is in kindergarden. The bilingual program is great. My son is improving in Spanish and excelling in Math. No school is perfect but I can honestly say that I am very pleased with this school. Family Focus Center is the best after school program and offers enrichment classes, so my kids take classes in karate, ballet, sewing, and more. I have no doubt that we made the right choice for our family.

Thanks for replying! It's so good to hear that you've been happy with the school, as it seems to have so many of the characteristics that we are looking for (bilingual program, diverse student body, relatively small size, nice campus in a nice neighborhood). I am very much looking forward to our visit in January.

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