You have the right and power to decide where your child attends school.
When you’re looking for a great school, start with the numbers, then make a point to get out and visit schools. No amount of data can substitute for the feeling you get when you walk into a school and speak with principals, teachers, parents, students and community members.
Many schools offer regular tours; others will let you visit the school upon request. Begin by calling the school and asking how you can come for a visit. Make sure you ask to spend some time in classrooms.
Once you’re in the school you may want to think about these things:
Climate and Culture
- How are you greeted when you walk in the school?
- Do you feel safe and welcome in this school?
- Ask the principal and teachers what they like best about the school.
- Does the school staff reflect the diversity of the community?
- Talk with some students. Ask them what they like about this school.
- Look for any parents who may be working or volunteering in the school. Ask them what they think about the school. Why did they bring their child here? Why do they stay at the school?
Teaching and Learning
- Observe teachers and students in action. Would your child be excited about learning in this school?
- Are students engaging in work that is challenging?
- Do you see current student work displayed in the hallway? If so, does the work show student research and creativity? (and is it current or from several months ago?)
- Do teachers use culturally appropriate practices?
- Is there evidence of art and music in the school?
- Do you see evidence of what students should be learning? (look for daily agendas or posted “learning objectives” that help students know what they will be focusing on that day)
- How are students interacting in the cafeteria? Hallways? Gym?
- Does the school have a fully-staffed library?
- What about technology? Is student use of technology apparent?
- For high schools, do you see evidence of extra-curricular programs?
- For elementary schools, is there a place where students can play? Are afterschool programs available?
- Is there a school nurse or clinic?
The Bottom Line:
Your child deserves a great school. You have the right to choose from great school options.
- Do your research.
- Look for the best fit for you and your child.
- Make your choice.
- Enroll your child in a great school.