5 tips for evaluating a school for your kids

You've just been transferred halfway across the country, and before you can even think of looking for a house, you have to find the best school for your children. Forget about test scores. Instead, focus on these aspects that can reveal a school's true strength and weakness for teaching your children.

5 tips for evaluating a school for your kids

1. The school’s overall tone

For instance, question whether the educational leaders publicly and privately champion the value of diversity. Do students work on a wide range of topics visible throughout the school? Find out if students co-exist in tension or if they become one community celebrating their diversity.

2. The staff’s expectations

What do the principal and teachers expect from the kids? Does the curriculum provide challenge for all students and not just the better students? Are there targeted initiatives aimed at reducing barriers to achievement and decreasing the achievement gap? Are students of different races and cultures well represented in enrichment activities and rigorous classes?

3. The teachers’ participation

Inquire whether teachers collaborate across grades and across the curriculum. Are they given the opportunity to take part in relevant professional development opportunities? Are they part of collaborative decision-making bodies at the school level and district-wide?

4. The school’s resources

Question whether there is adequate books and school supplies. Are parents and community members motivated to donate time and materials, and are these used in a coherent way that meets the goals of the school?

5. The school in relation to the community

Is the school a focal point of the neighbourhood? Do parents and community members feel welcomed as collaborative partners in the school's success? Does the school use innovative outreach strategies to partner with parents of diverse backgrounds? Does the school have vibrant partnerships with the community and its business organizations?

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