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Selecting a School for Your Child (page 3)

By — U.S. Department of Education
Updated on Feb 29, 2008

Additional Questions About Private Schools

What is the tuition?

Is there a payment plan?

Is there a sliding scale for tuition, based on parish, church affiliation, or family income?

What are the other fees and expenses (room and board, uniforms, books, transportation, lab and computer fees, activity fees)?

What scholarships and loans are available?

Are students or their parents required to be of a particular faith?

Does the school have a policy on student participation in religious instruction and worship?

Does the school close for religious and federal holidays?

Does the school have the same schedule as the local public school?

Additional Questions About Home Schools

Have you identified curriculum materials for your child, and how much they will cost?

Is there a suitable place for your child's study and instruction?

Do you, your spouse, or another homeschooling parent have adequate free time to be available to your homeschooling child?

Do other families in your area homeschool their children?

Is there a support group of homeschoolers near you?

If you are interested in some outside instructional support, have you checked your local library, parks department, scouting organizations, public and private schools, and similar resources?

Have you searched the Web for resources on instruction, legal issues, support groups, and other matters?

Have you identified other resources you will need?

Have you checked state regulations? (They are usually available on the web or from your local public school or school district.)

Step 3: Visit and Observe Schools

Contact the schools you are interested in and make an appointment for a visit. If possible, tour the schools during regular school hours and visit a few classes. Avoid visiting schools during the first or last week of a term in order to get a realistic sense of how the school operates.

A good way to have your questions answered is to schedule an appointment with the school principal. If possible, attend an open house, parent-teacher meeting, or other school function that would also provide valuable information about the attitudes of staff, students, and parents.

Listen closely to what teachers say about the school. The teachers will be the adults closest to your child, and you will want to know if they are well prepared, dedicated, and happy in their work.

Culture

Is the school secretary helpful and friendly?

Is the school orderly and neat?

What do the bulletin boards look like?

How is student work displayed?

How does the school communicate with students and parents (weekly/monthly newsletter, e-mail, Web site)?

Do the students appear to be courteous, happy, and disciplined?

Is there a welcoming attitude toward all parents?

How are the students with diverse learning needs (e.g., students with disabilities and students with limited English proficiency) treated?

Do the teachers appear to be helpful and friendly?

Principal

What is the principal's philosophy about education?

What is the principal's attitude toward discipline?

In what extracurricular activities is the principal most interested?

What is the principal's reputation in the community?

Is the principal usually at the school and available to talk to parents?

Does the principal get to know the students?

How often does the principal observe teachers?

What does the school do to keep good teachers and improve teacher performance?

How does the principal respond to parental concerns/complaints?

What is the principal's attitude toward students with diverse learning needs (e.g., students with disabilities and students with limited English proficiency)?

According to the principal, what are the school's strengths?

According to the principal, what are the school's weaknesses?

According to the principal, where can the school improve?

Teachers

How do teachers grade student work?

Do teachers have high expectations for all students to achieve to high academic standards?

How do teachers inform students of their expectations?

Do teachers share the course content and objectives with parents?

When and how frequently are teachers available for parent conferences?

Do teachers assign homework? Is it rigorous? Frequent? Sufficient?

Are the teachers highly qualified to teach in their subject areas (do they know the subjects they are teaching)?

Do teachers have the skills and knowledge to address students with special learning needs?

Are specialized staffs available to address the special learning needs of a child (e.g., speech therapist, psychologist or aides)?

Do the teachers know the individual students in their classes?

Are teachers willing to provide extra help to students?

What is the school's policy regarding teacher response to parent inquiries?

Do teachers have Web sites with class notes and other information for students and parents?

Students

What is the attendance rate for students?

What do students say about the principal?

What do students say about the teachers?

Do the students have school spirit?

What do students say about homework?

Do students participate in and enjoy field trips?

Do students feel safe and secure at the school?

What do student publications say?

What else do students say about the school?

Parent and Community Involvement

How does the school encourage parental involvement?

What are the ways parents can get involved?

Are parents encouraged to volunteer?

Does the school have an active parent- teacher organization?

Does the school hold meetings and events at times when parents can attend?

How well attended are back-toschool nights by parents?

Are families expected to be involved with homework?

How frequently does the school communicate with parents?

Are community leaders involved with the school?

Does the school partner with local businesses and organizations?

Are parents involved in the development of school policies?

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