Choosing a school that best fits your child is no easy task. There are a lot of questions that you, as a parent, probably have to ask. One of the first questions might be whether you want to send your child to a public, private, or parochial school. If you have decided that a public school would be the best fit, you must then decide which one will suit your child best. There are a number of things that you should ask yourself before making a decision. Once you know what questions to ask, and what to look for, it is then a good idea to actually make physical visits to the public schools that you are considering for your child.
If your child requires any sort of special education, this might be one of the first topics you consider in your search. If your child has special needs, it is important to know that federal law prohibits public schools to turn away a student based on learning or behavior disorders, or physical disability. From there, you will want to learn about the different classroom settings and teachers. If your child, for instance, suffers from autism, does the school you’re considering offer a specific classroom setting for autistic children? If not, do any of the special education teachers have any sort of experience working with autistic children? You may also want to know more about teachers’ credentials, training, and other certifications. It is also important to know that students with special needs have the right to an evaluation for disabilities, as well as an individualized education plan (IED.) These will help to ensure that your child is getting the best possible education, and that his or her needs are specifically met.
Many parents find that classroom size is an important factor in deciding on a public school. Studies have shown that a smaller classroom setting can be more beneficial for learning, as it gives the teacher more of an opportunity to work one on one with students. This can be a tricky question, because classroom sizes in public schools tend to vary from year to year. You may be content in simply asking what the average classroom size was for the previous school year, or you may want to get an average of classroom size based on a few previous years. If your child is qualified for gifted and talented classes, or you feel your child may be qualified, you should also ask what the average class size is for such settings. Because testing is required to qualify for gifted and talented classes, the classroom sizes tend to be smaller.
Public schools often used standardized testing to evaluate a child’s skills in certain areas. You may decide to ask the administration which tests are being used, as well as what the average results were. If the scores don’t appear to be as high as they should, it is important to ask what is being done to ensure that scores will go up the following school year.
If you are trying to decide on which public high school to send your child to, there is another set of questions you should ask. You will first want to find out what the rate of graduation is, and what measures are being taken to ensure a higher graduation rate for next year. You may also want to know what the schools’ dropout rate is. If your child is planning on going to college, some schools offer advanced placement courses, as well as college courses. You will also want to see what sort of measures the counselors are taking to help students decide which college is best for them, as well as provide career-placement information.
A couple of other things you may want to get more information about are music and arts in the school, level of parental involvement, whether or not a child will have textbooks to take home, how students are rewarded for good behavior, and what sort of disciplinary actions are taken for negative behavior. Aside from all of these issues, as a parent, you will most likely have other questions and concerns regarding your child’s education. Make a checklist of anything you want to inquire about, and bring it with you to each school you visit.
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