Selecting the School That Is Right for Your Child: Gather Information About Schools
If you were looking to buy a car, vacuum cleaner, or refrigerator, you could talk to friends and family and find information on the Internet, in consumer magazines, or in other published resources. Similarly, when investigating schools, you may also have to make phone calls, collect written material from different schools and look for reports in your local paper to get the information you need. You can check public school report cards (see Parent Tip) and go to parent fairs and school open houses.
You can find reliable school information online on sites such as www.education.com. The hard work will be worth your while if you find a school that brings out the best in your child.
Along with the schools' curricula and philosophy, you will want to know about school policies and services. Parents may also wish to consider the after-school programs a school offers, for example, sports, clubs, tutoring, or academic enrichment. Some schools have after-school activities funded by the U.S. Department of Education's 21st Century Community Learning Centers program. These centers provide educational activities outside of the regular school hours - before and after school or during summer vacation - that complement what is taught in school. You may also want to ask if the school has supplemental educational services, including free tutoring, that are offered outside of the regular school hours under No Child Left Behind.
- Does the school have a strong program of core academic subjects such as English, history, mathematics, science, arts, and foreign languages?
- What courses does the school offer in addition to the core subjects? What evidence is there that the school is effectively teaching students to read?
- Does the school have a special focus or theme for the curriculum? Does the school offer challenging courses such as Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, and high school honors courses?
- Does the school provide enrichment opportunities for all students? For gifted students?
- Does the school have extracurricular activities that support what is taught? Is there an effective English language acquisition program for children who need it?
- If your child has special learning needs, does the school have a curriculum and the necessary supports to appropriately accommodate those needs?
Reprinted with the permission of the U.S. Department of Education.
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