Common Questions

Is Prospect Sierra accredited?

Accreditation by CAIS is an important element in maintaining overall school quality and involves adherence to comprehensive standards of good practice.

Prospect Sierra is an accredited member of the California Association of Independent Schools (CAIS). Accreditation takes place every six years after an extensive self-study.

Prospect Sierra is also a member of the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) and the Educational Records Bureau (ERB).

What are Prospect Sierra's affiliations?

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.

What information do you have about your student body?

For the 2013-14 school year, Prospect Sierra has enrolled 471 students in grades K–8: 244 girls and 227 boys; 211 elementary school students and 260 middle school students.

Diversity

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 21 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. We enrolled children from 23 of them. Applicants for the middle school this past year came from 38 elementary schools. We enrolled students from 15 of them.

Ethnic Diversity

Children of color comprise 43.7% of our student body. Just over 66% of the students of color are multiracial — 28.8% of the school population.

Socioeconomic Diversity

The school embraces a broad range of families, due in part to our generous financial assistance budget, some $1,600,000 for the 2013-14 school year. This is about 16% of the school’s annual expenditures. Of our student population, 37% 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 24 students per section. There are two sections per grade in K–5 and three sections per grade 6–8.

What is the student-teacher ratio?

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 fewer hours of assistant teacher time and increased specialist time. All grades have specialist teachers who enrich the program.

What specialist classes do students attend?

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.

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.

What languages are offered, and when does instruction begin?

Prospect Sierra offers French and Spanish beginning in the 5th grade. There is an exploratory Spanish program in the elementary school.

Mandarin is offered as an AfterSchool enrichment class for elementary school students.

Prospect Sierra is known for its exceptionally strong faculty. What accounts for this reputation?

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.

How do Prospect Sierra students do on standardized tests?

We administer the ERB (Educational Records Bureau) tests as part of our accreditation by the California Association of Independent Schools (CAIS). Students take this test in the fall of each year, beginning in 3rd 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 8th grade, test scores cluster high in the 90th percentile when normed against scores from other independent schools across the nation.

Where do Prospect Sierra students go to high school?

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.

What are the points of entry at Prospect Sierra School? Is it possible to enter at the other grades?

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 6th graders each year, as Kindergarten and 6th 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.