Prospect Sierra is an accredited member of the California Association of Independent Schools (CAIS). CAIS accreditation is an important element in maintaining overall school quality and involves adherence to comprehensive standards of good practice. Prospect Sierra engages in an extensive self-study every six years to maintain its CAIS accreditation. Prospect Sierra is also a member of the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) and the Educational Records Bureau (ERB).
Prospect Sierra maintains a strong affiliation with the East Bay Independent Schools Association (EBISA), the Bay Area Teacher Training Institute (BATTI), and People of Color in Independent Schools (POCIS). Prospect Sierra is a member of the Green School Initiative, has been Green Certified by the Contra Costa Green Business Program and has been named a Generator School by the National Youth Leadership Council.
For the 2015-16 school year, Prospect Sierra has enrolled 470 students in grades K–8: 235 girls and 235 boys; 216 elementary school students and 254 middle school students.
Diversity is valued at Prospect Sierra. The school community includes traditional nuclear families as well as blended families, adoptive families, and families headed by gay/lesbian parents, single parents, grandparents, and other guardians.
Geographic Diversity:
Our families live in 32 different zip codes in 23 cities between Hayward and American Canyon. Most families come from Berkeley, followed by El Cerrito, Kensington, Richmond, Oakland, and Albany. Applicants for kindergarten this past year came from 39 preschools and schools and we enrolled children from 23 of them. Applicants for the middle school this past year came from 44 elementary schools and we enrolled students from 20 of them.
Ethnic Diversity:
Students of color comprise 45% of our student body. Just over 69% of the students of color are multiracial.
Socioeconomic Diversity:
The school embraces a broad range of families, due in part to our generous tuition assistance budget, some $1,600,000 for the 2015-16 school year. This is about 16% of the school’s annual expenditures. Of our student population, 33% receive tuition assistance of some kind. The grants vary in size depending on individual family needs. This program accommodates middle as well as low-income families.
Class Size:
Enrollment is designed for 20-24 students per section. There are two sections per grade in K–5 and three sections per grade 6–8.
The student-teacher ratio at Prospect Sierra is 9 to 1. Kindergarten through second grade classes have two full time educators in each class (co-teachers or lead teacher and assistant teacher). Third and fourth grades have increased specialist time and fewer hours of assistant teacher time. All grades spend time with specialist teachers who enrich the program.
As Prospect Sierra students progress from kindergarten to higher grades, more specialist time is added to their weekly schedules. Specialists teach art, drama, library, music, physical education, science, technology, and world languages. Sixth, seventh, and eighth grades are advisory based. Each subject is taught by a specialist in that field, while an advisor oversees the school life for each student. This approach reflects one of the many ways students are prepared for the challenges of high school.
Prospect Sierra offers Spanish language instruction beginning in kindergarten and running all the way through eighth grade. French is offered in grades 5-8, offering middle schools students a choice of languages.
Our outstanding faculty is an essential part of the everyday success of Prospect Sierra students. The combination of their experience and energy makes for a dynamic learning environment for our students. Our recruiting efforts are nationwide and we attract top teaching candidates for a number of reasons. We embrace continued collaboration with other dedicated and talented teachers. We have a very attractive salary schedule and benefits package, an enriched teaching environment, strong school support for professional development, and numerous leadership opportunities.
Like most other California Association of Independent Schools (CAIS) member schools, we administer the ERB (Education Records Bureau) tests. Third- and fourth-grade students take this test in the fall of each year, and middle school students take this test annually in the winter, beginning in fifth grade. In the elementary school, testing gives students exposure to the format and experience of standardized tests. Over time, students learn skills and gain confidence that allow them to perform at their personal best. By the time they apply to high school in the eighth grade, test scores cluster high in the 90th percentile when normed against scores from other independent schools across the nation.
Prospect Sierra graduates are well regarded by high school admissions officers. The students in our graduating classes seek a diverse range of high school experiences. Some years, more students choose to attend public high schools, and other years, more choose to attend independent high schools located throughout the Bay Area. Generally, fifty percent of the graduates choose independent schools, and virtually all are admitted to their first or second choice school.
Prospect Sierra has two sections of grades K–5 and three sections of grades 6–8. We admit two full sections of new kindergartners and one section of new sixth graders each year, as kindergarten and sixth grade represent the two main points of entry to the school. However, in a school of this size, there is often movement from year to year as families relocate, are transferred, or take sabbaticals. While we cannot predict the number of openings, we are sure to have some places available in the other grades each year.