School standards in Massachusetts

(15 Posts)
curcur Fri 13-Oct-17 23:02:59

I feel like I’m going to be posting quite a bit in the next few months but here we’ll be moving to Massachusetts at Easter for approx 5 years with 2 children aged 8 and 5. I’m starting to get concerned re education as a few people have mentioned that when the children returned to the UK that they were significantly behind and needed lots of tuition to catch up.

We’re not entitled to private education, husband working in Waltham and generous rent allowance of $6.5k per month so assuming that we can live in the best school districts.

Has anyone got any experience/tips re the education standards and the children’s return to the UK system. I’m currently looking at Wellesley, Lexington and Newton purely based on their school rankings. Is this the best way to do it? Any thoughts on these areas?

Thanks for any input.

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winglesspegasus Fri 13-Oct-17 23:15:07

look to school board site for state of massachusetts.
as a retired teacher and having lived all over the states/the ones in the northeast tend to be better than alot of others.there also an expat site
has a forum section maybe you can get info there
also mass' wont be too much of a culture shock in some ways,hills mountains lakes and rivers COLD winters and gorgeous springs and autumns
good luck if i lived further north i would help more but stuck in the sauna known as florida

OlennasWimple Sat 14-Oct-17 19:33:20

This website is useful for understanding more about different schools.

There is a Facebook group called Boston Brits that you can probably join - people on there live all over eastern MA, and are happy to advise on things like schools and where to live.

The other district you might want to add to your list is Brookline, but in any case look carefully at the commute out to Waltham - some of the main roads around metro Boston can get really busy really early in the day.

Your 8 yo will probably be fine: most decent schools have gifted / highly able programs to ensure that their top students are stretched. Anecdotally, I understand that Brits moving over often benefit from these because they have been in the education system longer and have already covered some of the curriculum. Your 5yo will in effect repeat Reception if she goes into Kindergarten - whether this is a problem for her will depend on her. My DD actually benefitted from it, whereas my DS would have become bored and probably sunk pretty low.

curcur Sun 15-Oct-17 11:01:14

Thanks for that info. Olennas- interesting to read that good schools cater for all abilities so have to stretch them probably more so than in the UK.

Any thoughts on the locations of either Winchester or Lexington?

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Want2bSupermum Sat 21-Oct-17 01:18:58

You need to find someone who has done the move and knows the top districts in your area for families. School digger is a good website to find out about schools.

We live in a mixed school district and we happy with the schools. We could afford private but the public schools are a million times better for our high functioning autistic DS and we are getting DD assessed as it looks like she is also high functioning autistic.

Your rental allowance is fair for any east coast area. We live just outside of Manhattan and it's about $6k a month mortgage for a 2500 sqft home. Just try to get as much included in your rent as possible if your rent is below. We have a tenant on a contract. Her allowance was $3500 and rental limit on our unit is $3000. We included parking and cable/internet for $500 a month. Doesn't make a difference to us and it helps her keep her living costs down.

SeaToSki Sat 21-Oct-17 01:26:22

The US system starts a year later than the UK system, so the average child will be academically a year behind in the US. They catch up at university as their courses are typically 4 years instead of 3. If you want your dcs to stay at the same academic level as they are currently, you would have to see if the school system would put them into the academic year above their age, and decide if you wanted that for them socially. Another option is the British School which is in the direction of Waltham, but it is a private school. Lexington and Winchester are both lovely places to live, not sure on the specifics of the schools there though.

Want2bSupermum Sat 21-Oct-17 01:31:32

Depends on the town. Where we live school starts at 3. DD is 6, in first grade and she is reading at J2 level and her maths is about J1 level.


pinkhousesarebest Sat 21-Oct-17 13:23:54

My brother is in Brookline and is delighted with the standard of education his dcs are getting.

BeALert Mon 30-Oct-17 02:14:19

Hmm... my 16 year old is at school here in New England and is studying maths that's past A level standard, so they can stretch them if the child is bright and really wants to.

What I do find different about the US system compared to the UK system is this. In the UK you mostly start with a broad range of subjects then narrow down, so the subjects you take at A level end up being subjects you've studied for several years. In the US it doesn't seem to work like that. You do some general subjects, then maybe a year of each more detailed subject.

For example, DD did general science at 14, honors chemistry at 15, is currently doing AP physics at 16, and will do AP biology plus some incredibly esoteric space/time/science course at 17.

They do maths and language arts (equivalent of English Lang) and a language every year, but other subjects they seem to more dip into IYSWIM.

They do have different levels of study especially once you're at high school - you can do (most basic) CP classes, or Honors classes, or AP classes, each being progressively more difficult. You can graduate with all CP classes without having necessarily been too challenged, or you can graduate with many AP classes, which are often the equivalent of college classes and can mean that you have college credits before you even arrive at college. DD is going to arrive at college with the equivalent of two years of credits.

This probably all just sounds confusing, but I guess what I'm saying is that there are lots of chances in US schools especially at high school level to stretch students.

pallisers Mon 30-Oct-17 02:36:42

I am in Massachusetts and have 3 children. I would not worry at all about your children's education matching up with UK education standards. It is excellent here.

If your husband is working in Waltham you should be looking at renting in places like:


your rental allowance should get you a decent house there. Once you join a school, you will find a community/friends/etc. I really wouldn't worry about the US system being so far behind the UK educational system. It isn't.

Brookline is too far out for you.

In terms of Lexington and Winchester - Winchester is upper middle class - high income, very very involved and intense - but nice -
parents. Lots of serious wealth. Lovely town, nice place to live, loads of community activities, very close to Boston. I'd pick it over Lexington myself (we lived there for a year recently while renovating) They'll mildly like you being British. Not too much rental property though just because most people own.

Lexington similar but probably not as intense until high school (which is mega intense). Bit further out. Equally pretty/nice. I would live in Winchester for preference if I had a choice between the two.

In each town you will meet your tribe of parents desperately keen about getting their kids ahead on the educational/sports/arts/music curve.

SeasickCrocodile Mon 30-Oct-17 02:46:01

The standard of state or public education is so good they filed as their own country in the PISA tests...have a google. Belmont/Arlington/Lexington is where I’d start looking. If you do move back to the U.K. your biggest problem will be that you’ve missed the secondary transfer and places could be a problem.

pallisers Mon 30-Oct-17 02:50:32

Yes Belmont another good choice. lovely town. Winchester or Lexington probably slightly better for commute to Waltham but not by much.

Waltham itself is not a bad town/school district just not super wealthy. I would get your dh to ask his colleagues where they live to get a feel for it.

Noofly Sat 11-Nov-17 21:52:00

Oooh, ask me, ask me! It might be too far of a commute for your husband, but look at Harvard if you’d like a picture perfect New England town with a great community and fantastic school. I grew up there and found we had to go private over here (no offence intended) for our DC to get anywhere near the experience I had at Bromfield.

Noofly Sat 11-Nov-17 21:54:50

And do go visit Harvard one day anyway. It has Fruitlands Musem where Louisa May Alcott lived for a while until they all nearly starved to death in some utopian nightmare <slight exaggeration>. You could also go past my old house and wave at it for me. grin

curcur Sun 12-Nov-17 07:05:19

Yes Harvard is definitely too far - we’re hoping for a shorter commute than in the UK! Thanks for the tip though. smile

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