We are looking to move into the area. I have a child who will be going to school next year.
I hear a lot of different opinions about the various school systems. How can I get information I can trust on the different schools? We are not limiting our daughter to only public schools, we also want to look at private ones.
Any help would be appreciated.
Needs Schooling on Schools
Dear Needs Schooling,
The first thing you need to consider when choosing a school is your child. You want to look into schools that will offer a curriculum that fits her and supports her needs. Good districts offer comprehensive programs that support their students, socially, academically and emotionally throughout their school career.
With all that being said, you should also consider the needs of your family. A school's religious affiliation (if any), tuition costs and neighborhood will all be important considerations for your family and will also have an influence on your daughter’s education.
A great first resource is a district’s website. Most offer open records, testing data, teacher and administration profiles, extracurricular activity schedules, staff and school mission statements. They also offer resources for parents and children, which indicates what they would do to help you and your family.
Education is an ever-evolving field; good teachers and schools are up to date on best practices. You’ll know if a school is current based on the professional development schedule of its teachers, which should also be posted.
Most districts have their board meeting schedules posted on their website. Attend a meeting. Learn about the budget. Find out how much money they have in their reserve. If they don’t spend their money well, that will affect you and your children.
Beyond the district's website, there are other websites available to help you on your quest. One such site, greatschools.org, ranks schools based on a number of different criteria. It includes numerous reviews from parents and students and even has a feature that allows you to compare schools you have selected to one another.
Finally, talk to other parents. Ask them questions. Maybe a good place to start would be a particular school's parent teacher organization. These groups are typically ripe with involved parents who care about their children and about their education. There’s no better resource than that.