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T.E.A.M at Paly

Original post made by NewPalyParent, Midtown, on Jan 29, 2014

At the Paly presentation - the "TEAM" seemed like an interesting effort. We got the sense that not too many students sign for it (i.e. there is no published acceptance criteria, no lottery ) .. my child is sold on the program. We would like to understand the cons .. why would a student not sign up for TEAM? Are there course conflicts? Does it not offer AP / Honors courses?

Comments (11)

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Posted by Former TEAM parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jan 29, 2014 at 10:14 pm

I have had one of my Paly students do TEAM because it felt right but not for everyone.

TEAM is approximately 100 freshman and lasts one year. The students spend all their core classes with the same students, but mix with the general student body for electives. As a result they form friendships quicker at the beginning of the school year in TEAM and often carry these friendships through all four years, but it depends on the individual kids as to whether this happens. The teachers tend to get to know the kids a little better too as there are other activities such as field trips which are only possible because of the school within a school atmosphere which TEAM fosters. The big field trip is to Yosemite and is one of the reasons many students opt for TEAM.

The only negative is that the TEAM kids are not as well integrated into the full class student body as those outside TEAM and for many they feel a little lost at the beginning of the sophomore year as quite possibly they know nobody else in their classes, sometimes feeling like the newbie. But, that is soon forgotten.

For a child who may not like the idea of being part of 500 students in a 2000 student school, TEAM will help.

A student in TEAM still gets the full freshman class options, there are no APs in 9th grade.

It is a few years since we did TEAM, but it worked well for our student who looks back with positive memories of 9th grade. It would not have worked as well for other students who is perhaps more anxious to get the full big high school experience straight away.

I hope other parents give their comments also.


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Posted by Mom of 3
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jan 29, 2014 at 11:06 pm

Good summary by the first poster. Neither of my Paly students chose TEAM because we weren't sure who else was doing it and heard if it's a bad batch, it's a year of suffering, even on the Yosemite trip. As stated, it's not guaranteed that they stay friends through 4 years. I would think a newbie to PAUSD might want to try TEAM, but those who already have friends from Jordan or JLS can meet with those friends for lunch and activities so it doesn't matter that there are 500 other freshmen. It's a bigger school, but if they have their friends already, there is no need for being with all the same students for core classes and it could a detriment for meeting new people in core classes. And just because it's called TEAM, doesn't mean everyone sits around, holding hands, singing Kumbaya. There is still going to be the natural social interactions of inclusion/exclusion.

My daughter found that in freshman year, first semester, other freshman girls were very friendly and seemed to have gotten over their bad middle school attitudes of glaring but were more welcoming at lunchtime - perhaps because they are all at the bottom of the totem pole?


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Posted by MidtownMom
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 30, 2014 at 9:06 am

What about the costs of the field trips?

Thanks for the good summary "Former TEAM Parent".


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Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 30, 2014 at 11:07 am

Our kids did TEAM. It was fine. Plus if your children do any other activities such as band, sports, etc., they will make friends beyond the TEAM circle.

As with all extra-curricular activities, there is always a "scholarship" fund available for families that cannot afford the trips like Yosemite.


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Posted by palo alto parent
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jan 30, 2014 at 11:09 am

@NewPalyParent - I believe some years there has been a lottery and some there have not.


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Posted by Mom
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 31, 2014 at 6:56 am

The week-long trip to Yosemite doesn't work for students with club sports commitments, so those kids opt out, and then students who are in TEAM are not in class with them. Many students do not want to have their classes limited to just one group of students, who are different in some significant ways from the rest of the freshman class.


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Posted by Former Paly Parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jan 31, 2014 at 9:10 am

When our kids went to Paly, as recently as a year ago, we were told by the staff and principal that the TEAM was for learning disabled freshmen ( as well as other slightly underachieving freshmen) to help them "assimilate more easily into the high pressure Paly culture".

At that time, freshmen were selected according to middle school test scores, not by their own choice, to be on the TEAM. We, as a family, did not know our eldest son would be on the TEAM until the first day of school.....when our son came home and told us he did NOT want to be a part of it. We then called his counselor, who told us that this was NOT a choice! and that it was actually an " easier introduction to the realities of Paly".

My son was then reduced to tears, because he was told by other kids that the "TEAM was for 'tards,"


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Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 31, 2014 at 11:46 am

Well that is just wrong let alone not even close to the facts and/or "profiles" of the students that we know that went through. In fact, one of our own kids that did team scored well-above 2100 on the SAT when at Paly...our kids took AP classes as well.

Such wrongness.


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Posted by Former TEAM parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jan 31, 2014 at 12:43 pm

It is a few years ago for us, but there was certainly no way that this class was targeted for underperforming students when we did it. There was also no way that a child could have been put in TEAM without a parent electing for it. Parents had to go to meetings and forms had to be filled and an application made, also if too many students elected to do this, then there was a lottery, but I never heard of anyone in a lottery not getting in although it may have been at the last minute.

If things have changed then they have changed, but I am very surprised to hear that it has changed so much.


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Posted by stephen levy
a resident of University South
on Jan 31, 2014 at 12:51 pm

stephen levy is a registered user.

Our son did team a decade ago. It was a great experience and definitely not composed of any particular group(s).

What I remember that has not been mentioned much above is that TEAM had an academic component that was different in the sense that English and History at least were integrated and connected in the teaching.


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Posted by Former Paly Parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jan 31, 2014 at 3:41 pm

We definitely had no knowlege of the TEAM when our first son was entered into it. Neither Jordan Middle School nor Paly EVER presented us with any paperwork to sign. Like I stated above! we knew nothing about it until the end of the first day of school. We never signed ANYTHING, and my son did not want it, which he was very vocal about. But he was not allowed to transfer out.

Eventually, my son came to like the teachers, but he always felt "marked" for the remainder of his years at Paly because of having been on the TEAM. He eventually chose to go to to "middle college" to get away from the stigma.

BTW, he is, and was, slightly learning disabled. Our other son, however, is not, and we could not understand why HE was placed on the TEAM against his ( and our) will.


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