FAQ - Arlington Montessori and APS
HOW BIG IS THE APS PUBLIC MONTESSORI PROGRAM?
50 years ago, Arlington Public Schools was the first public school in the country to implement Montessori in its classrooms.
Today, Arlington has 750 students in its public Montessori program.
APS has 19 Preschool and Kindergarten classrooms in 8 different public elementary schools.
APS has 13 Montessori 1st through 5th grade classrooms (9 Lower Elementary and 4 Upper Elementary) at Drew Model School.
APS has 4 Montessori Middle School classrooms at Gunston Middle School.
WHO CAN APPLY TO APS MONTESSORI?
Arlington Public Schools offers a Montessori program for children beginning at 3 years of age and going though Elementary and Middle School. To enter APS Montessori, children must be a specific age by September 30 of a new school year, and have parents/guardians who reside in Arlington.
WHO CAN APPLY?
Any child who will be three years old or older on or before September 30th of that year is eligible for the APS Primary Montessori Program.
No Primary Montessori student is required to have prior Montessori experience.
After the 3 year old year, preference is given to students with Montessori experience.
Good entry points to the program are age 3, Kindergarten and First Grade.
All APS applicants must have parents/guardians who reside in Arlington.
WHO GETS ACCEPTED?
In an Arlington Public Schools Preschool Montessori Classroom 2/3rds of the students come from families making about $80,000 a year or less. It is important to check the APS website for the exact income amount because this changes every year based on Arlington County’s guideline for eligibility for tax relief. 1/3 of the students’ families have higher income.
The Countywide Elementary Program (1-5 grade) is located at Drew Model School. There is no financial requirement, though children accepted to Drew Model Schools’s Preschool Program are guaranteed admission and most often stay in the Montessori program. Spots are open for first grade students from outside of Drew Model School. Spots are often available for students in higher grades on a case by case basis. Children with Montessori experience are given preference.
Preference is given to younger siblings of current APS enrolled Montessori students - who must apply in order to be considered.
WHAT ARE MY CHANCES OF GETTING IN TO AN APS MONTESSORI PROGRAM?
The space is limited, but not impossible to achieve. Many people are pleasantly surprised to have been chosen for a spot. Others find out later in the summer that a space becomes available after they have given up hope.
Since every Arlington family can apply to more than one location the waitlist can seem long, but they can move quickly as some families make other options and move off of the waitlist.
Be prepared to make a change mid-year. Families who are flexible can jump into an available spot later in the year.
MY CHILD HAS MONTESSORI EXPERIENCE AND I WANT TO START IN AN APS MONTESSORI SCHOOL AT KINDERGARTEN. WHAT DO I DO?
Spots sometimes do come available for Kindergarten. The best advice is to put your child on a waitlist as soon as possible to maximize your family’s chances. Try to get on the waitlist before the lottery is held in April.
If you have entered the lottery period, (only Drew Model School will hold a lottery for five year olds as it is one entry point for the school.) make sure you indicate on your application that your child has prior Montessori experience. That will give your child preference over others who have no experience.
You will need to visit your home school and the APS Montessori site and get each Principal to sign your application, so plan ahead.
MY CHILD HAS NO MONTESSORI EXPERIENCE AND I WANT TO START AT KINDERGARTEN. CAN I GET IN?
Some children have entered the Montessori classroom at Kindergarten with no Montessori experience. While this is a more rare case, it can happen. A parent who is interested in this opportunity should apply to get on the waitlist as a four year old to maximize chances of acceptance and get ahead of the lottery students who will be added after April 15th.
You will need to visit your home school and the APS Montessori site and get each Principal to sign your application. So plan ahead.
WHAT ARE MY CHOICES FOR KINDERGARTEN IF MY 4 YEAR OLD CHILD IS ALREADY IN MONTESSORI?
Parents of students with Montessori experience who wish to enter the public school and continue Montessori after their four year old year have several options:
Apply for a spot at Drew Model School for Kindergarten or 1st Grade. Relatively few spots are available for Kindergarten, but more are available for 1st Grade. It is definitely worth applying. There is no neighborhood preference for the Arlington Montessori program, however sibling preference is given to parents of Drew Model School students in either program.
Apply for a spot at one of the other APS Montessori neighborhood locations that are connected to your neighborhood. The feeder neighborhoods are chosen to give everyone an equal chance of getting a spot. In may be easier to get into one of those spots as a Kindergartener at certain schools (but not all) as some spots open up for the Kindergarten year.
After sibling preference, students from APS neighborhood Montessori classrooms have preference for Drew Model School's Lower Elementary Montessori classrooms, next it is students from other Montessori schools, and then students with no Montessori experience.
If possible, stay in your private Montessori school for an additional year and benefit from the third year with the same teacher and students that your child has been working with.
Stay flexible. Some parents have been offered spots close to the beginning of the school year and shortly after school begins as some families move unexpectedly or make other plans. We have several stories about families whose numbers came up days before school started, or a few weeks into September, and made the switch.
I WANT MY CHILD TO HAVE AN APS MONTESSORI EDUCATION BEYOND KINDERGARTEN. WHAT DO I HAVE TO DO?
APS Elementary Montessori (1st – 5th grade) is located at Drew Model School. If you are interested in Montessori beyond Kindergarten (and many people are), you should apply to Drew Model School’s Preschool Program. Entry at preschool guarantees you continuation in the Montessori program.
If you missed getting in at preschool, you can add your child to the waitlist at anytime during the year.
First grade is considered a new entry point. Spaces are generally available for first graders with or without Montessori experience, though students with Montessori experience are given preference. Apply for the lottery between February 1st and April 15th, or put your child on the waitlist for his current class grade before the lottery process begins. That move will put you in front of the lottery candidates for the upcoming year.
Entry after first grade is done on a case by case basis. It depends on available slots, Montessori experience (though it is not required), and Principal and a Montessori Teacher’s input. You should contact Drew Model School at 703-228-5825 for more details.
The APS Middle School Montessori program at Gunston is the natural continuation of Montessori after Elementary school.
HOW DO I MAXIMIZE MY CHANCES OF BEING ACCEPTED?
Apply for a three-year-old spot. Spots become available only when a child leaves the program after that. Sometimes that happens, but your name will be added to the end of the waitlist, behind others who applied on time.
Apply to all schools that your child is eligible to attend. It is not uncommon for families to sit on several school waitlists. You must apply to each school individually so you may want to photocopy your applications.
HOW DO I PREPARE FOR A SPOT IF I AM ON THE WAITLIST?
Be prepared to accept a spot when it becomes available. Sometimes that means two months into the school year or even six months into the school year when a family unexpectedly moves.
Schools require a relatively quick commitment to accept a spot that is offered. If you turn down the space it will push you to the bottom of the list for the rest of the school year.
Be ready by taking action:
Enter a private Montessori School to get the same high quality experience
Complete potty training
Have a childcare and transportation back up plan
Maintain an openness to leaving your current preschool, daycare situation
Make sure your child is open to change without building up hopes or creating anxiety
Please try to accept or reject your spot as soon as possible, in consideration of other families behind you on the wait list.
FOR ELEMENTARY MONTESSORI - iS THERE A WAITLIST? CAN MY CHILD EVEN GET IN?
The common perception is that the waitlist for Lower Elementary (1st - 3rd grade) is like the long waitlist for Primary Montessori (age 3-6), but it's nothing like that. While there are hundreds on the waitlist for APS Primary Montessori preschool, there have been at most a few kids on the waitlist for 1st grade. Almost every elementary applicant with Montessori experience got into Drew last year.
If they know in advance about interest, APS has even been willing to open up additional Lower Elementary classrooms rather than turn students away. The problem of not having enough spaces is really about Primary Montessori for PreK three and four year olds.
So the main steps for parents interested in Elementary Montessori are:
#1 apply early (it is a simple one page pupil transfer form) to increase APS planning lead time
#2 be involved with AMAC to advocate for more lower elementary classes if an extra "push" seems needed
HOW MANY ARLINGTON CHILDREN ARE IN APS MONTESSORI CLASSROOMS?
Approximately 750 children are in APS Montessori Classrooms
HOW DO I CHOOSE A LOCATION?
You can live anywhere in Arlington County and apply to Drew Model School because it is countywide. Bus transportation is provided for all students.
Bus transportation is also provided for Montessori students at Campbell.
Eligibility for all other locations is based on where you live in Arlington.
If spaces exist at other schools after August 15th, principals may offer spots to families who live outside of the attendance zone.
APS Primary Montessori Choices - The APS website details which APS Primary Montessori schools you can apply to for your child.
IS THERE AFTER SCHOOL CARE FOR CHILDREN?
All APS elementary schools offer the Extended Day program which serves children age 4 and up (they must turn 4 years old by September 30) before and after school. The programs are located in the school buildings. Fees are charged on a sliding scale. Space is limited and not guaranteed.
A few schools also offer extended day for three year olds. Note: Entrance is based on grade level, so children need to be the age at the beginning of the school year. For example, a three year old who turns four during the school year is not then eligible for extended day at a school that offers extended to four year olds.
Exact policies change and are different for each school, so it is good to check the APS website. www.apsva.us/extday
4 years old by September 30 at: All APS Elementary schools
3 years old by September 30 at: Campbell
Elementary Before School Sessions: This session is offered each regularly-scheduled school day and in conjunction with summer school. These sessions open at 7:00 a.m. daily and operate until the start of school.
Elementary After School Session: This session is offered each regularly-scheduled school day and in conjunction with summer school. These sessions operate from school dismissal until 6:00p.m. Children must be picked up by 6:00 p.m. In the event of an early closing, students must be picked up by 4:00 p.m.
Some Drew Model School students to to The School of Children after school. Their number is (703) 486-0880 and it is located on 24th St. S. They run a bus between their building and Drew Model School.
APS students in Kindergarten - 5th grade can participate in Department of Parks and Recreation Elementary After School programs. There is a program at nearby Walter Reed Community Center.
IS THERE APS MONTESSORI SUMMER SCHOOL?
APS Montessori summer school is open to children who are already in Montessori.
Children who are Montessori three-, four-, or five-year-olds in a Primary class this fall, could enroll in Montessori Primary summer school.
Children who are Lower El students this fall, could enroll in Lower El.
Children who are Upper El students this fall, could enroll in Upper El.
Summer school the first year (summer of 2014) was limited to Drew students. The second year it was expanded to include Hoffman-Boston students. The program is evolving, and hopefully will continue to offer greater access. 2016 APS did not offer Montessori Summer School, so please join the AMAC listserv to learn about summer school year by year.
HOW TO ARLINGTON PUBLIC MONTESSORI STUDENTS DO ON STANDARDIZED TESTS?
APS Montessori students take the same standardized tests as other APS students, including the Virginia Standards of Learning (SOL). They are expected to learn the same material, and APS Montessori teachers adjust their lesson plans accordingly. APS Montessori teachers coach students for the SOLs using the Montessori method.
APS provided a comparison of SOL test results for students in grades 3-5 in the Montessori program at Drew Model School and APS as a whole.
With few exceptions, the passing rates among Drew Montessori program students have
exceeded 80 percent over the last five years at all three grade levels in all subjects tested.
CAN I SEE INSIDE AN APS MONTESSORI CLASSROOM?
School Information Sessions for APS schools begin in February. These sessions are a brief introduction and tour of the school. You usually get to see a classroom or two, library, cafeteria, etc. At Drew Model School, you will certainly see a Montessori classroom, but at satellite schools you will probably need to specifically ask to include a Montessori classroom on your tour.
You can see times and dates online at: http://www.apsva.us/Page/3029
Parents applying to Primary Montessori for 3 and 4 year old students are not required to attend an Elementary School Information Session, but it can be helpful. Even though tours are geared toward Elementary parents, Drew Model School tours always show a Primary Montessori preschool classroom.
Parents applying to Kindergarten or Elementary Montessori at Drew Model School are required to attend an Elementary School Information Session at both their home school and at Drew Model School. The principals of both schools need to sign your transfer paperwork.
Parents of children already in Montessori at Drew Model School who are moving up to Elementary Montessori are not required to attend an Elementary School Information Session or fill out any transfer paperwork.
You can also call a school to arrange a classroom observation.
DOES ARLINGTON HAVE A SINGLE LOCATION MONTESSORI SCHOOL?
Currently Arlington’s Preschool Montessori program is spread out over several sites to provide accessible locations for families. This is important because transportation is limited.
Drew Model School has the largest number of Montessori students located at the countywide location.
The countywide Elementary Montessori program at Drew Model School shares a building with a Neighborhood First program which focuses on the Arts.
AMAC advocates for a stand-alone APS Montessori school.
DOES ARLINGTON HAVE A MONTESSORI MIDDLE SCHOOL PROGRAM?
Yes! The APS Montessori Middle School program is at Gunston Middle School.
In 2007, APS piloted a Montessori Middle School program at Drew Model School. In the first year it was only eligible for 6th graders. 2008 the program moved to Gunston Middle School and continues to grow and expand. In 2011, the Middle School Montessori program added a second teacher. In 2014, a third teacher joined the Montessori staff.
This program is primarily for students with prior Montessori experience though at least 3rd grade, though, a few spaces can accommodate students without Montessori experience.
WHO CAN APPLY TO APS ELEMENTARY MONTESSORI?
Montessori for elementary age children is offered at the Drew Model School. To enter, children must be have parents/guardians who reside in Arlington. The birthday cutoff date for all grades is September 30.
Students who enter the Montessori Program at Drew Model School at the primary level, as well as students who reside in the Nauck community with previous Montessori experience at places other than Drew Model School, are guaranteed admission to the Elementary Montessori Program through fifth grade without having to apply at the first grade entry level.
All entry-level applicants (Grade 1) with previous Montessori experience who will have older siblings concurrently attending Drew Model School are guaranteed admission to the Elementary Montessori Program. Other entry-level applicants will be admitted to the Montessori program in the following order:
Students enrolled in another APS preschool Montessori program
Students who live in Arlington County who have had the equivalent of at least one-half of a regular APS school year in a certified Montessori program
Other students in the Graded Program Kindergarten at Drew Model School
Other students who reside in the Nauck community
Other students who live in Arlington County
Students above first grade without Montessori experience will be offered admission on a case by case basis based on the likelihood that the student can adjust to a Montessori program in the absence of prior Montessori experience.
HOW LONG IS THE APS SCHOOL DAY?
APS Montessori is a full day, five days a week program. Holidays follow the Arlington Public School’s calendar.
Different elementary schools have different start and end times. For example, Drew Model School's hours are 9:00 a.m. to 3:41 p.m. and Glebe's school hours are 8:50 a.m.-3:41 p.m.
Here is a chart of hours for this year - but of course they can change for next year (and the hours for the new Discovery school are not out yet):
Elementary Schools: Abingdon, Campbell and Carlin Springs
Full Day Early Release
8:00 a.m.–2:41 p.m. 8:00 a.m.–12:26 p.m.
Elementary Schools: Arlington Traditional School, Barrett, Long Branch and Randolph
Full Day Early Release
8:25 a.m.–3:06 p.m. 8:25 a.m.–12:51 p.m.
Elementary Schools: Arlington Science Focus, Ashlawn, Barcroft, Drew, Glebe, Henry, Hoffman-Boston, Jamestown, Key, McKinley, Nottingham, Oakridge, Taylor and Tuckahoe
Full Day Early Release
9:00 a.m.–3:41 p.m. 9:00 a.m.–1:26 p.m.
WHAT IS EARLY RELEASE?
All APS Elementary Schools have early release on some Wednesdays during the year. At Drew Model School this year, there are 8 early release days (usually Wednesdays).
Some schools have early release EVERY Wednesday. This year, Arlington Science Focus, Arlington Traditional, Long Branch, Nottingham, Oakridge, Taylor and Tuckahoe have early release every Wednesday.
DO APS PRIMARY MONTESSORI STUDENTS STAY THE FULL DAY?
Yes, APS Primary Montessori students follow the schedule of all the other students in their school. Three and four year olds typically nap in the classroom during the afternoon.
CAN MY CHILD TAKE THE BUS?
Kindergarten on up - Bus transportation is provided for Kindergarten APS students who live in the school attendance area where the Montessori program is located.
Each APS school has its own rules for pre-K students on the bus.
4 Year Olds - Some schools provide busing for 4 year olds, but be sure to clarify with the school that your child is in Montessori, because some schools only provide transportation for 4 year olds in the VPI program.
Three Year Olds - Most APS schools do not provide bus transportation for three year olds because they need a car seat on the bus.
Campbell Elementary and Drew Model School provide transportation for all students in the Montessori program, ages 3 and up.
Students at Drew Model School ages 3 and up receive free bus transportation from anywhere in Arlington county.
There are special safety seats for three-year-olds to sit in on the buses. In addition to the driver, there is a bus assistant to help buckle them in and manage any problems. There is often a 5th grade safety patrol too. Many students start riding the bus at age 3. Many of the Drew Model School buses are not crowded, maybe 6 or 8 kids. So they are often quieter then most other Elementary buses.
You can call APS Transportation at (703) 228-6640 to see where your stop is located. It is best to call the specific school to find out about rules for Pre-K students on the bus.
HOW MUCH DOES APS MONTESSORI COST?
Tuition for three and four year old Montessori students is charged on a sliding fee schedule based on family income. Children in their 4-year-old year and whose parents’ income is at or less than the amount specified in the annual income guideline do not pay tuition.
There is no tuition charged for children in the 5-year-old or elementary years. Once a student enters kindergarten (generally all students turning 5 by September 30th), there is no charge.
The scale is can be adjusted by the school board each Spring. The fee is divided into monthly payments, and is prorated for students who start the year late. You can pay at school, or online. The scale can be found under "Program Enrollment (Application, Fees, Transportation, Lottery Process)" on the Montessori section of the APS Website: http://www.apsva.us/montessori
It is best to call the specific school to find out about rules for Pre-K students in Extended Day.