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  • Create a list of possible schools and ask each for a prospectus or brochure.
  • Conduct on-the-spot assessments.
  • Attend open houses and parent meetings.
  • Talk to existing parents.
  • Ask for old copies of the school newsletter.

Achievement/Accountability

  • Does the school have a written academic mission that guides the behavior of both adults and students?
  • Does the school set high standards and stress continuous improvement over time?
  • How many students in the school are performing at grade level in reading or mathematics?
  • Are test scores rising or falling compared to the previous year?
  • Has the percentage of students achieving proficiency increased or decreased?
  • What percentages of students graduate from the high school? How many attend college?
  • What percentages of students are taking challenging pre-college courses?
  • Does the high school offer programs to prepare graduating students for the workforce?
  • What percentage of juniors and seniors took college entrance tests?
  • What accreditation does the school hold?

Philosophy/Curriculum

  • Does the school have a philosophy on learning that is shared by all teachers and the administration?
  • How are subjects taught?
  • Does the school offer specials such as music, art, physical education, and/or a foreign language?

Students

  • Do parents receive information from the school? Is it also available on the internet?
  • Does the school inform parents when their child is falling behind academically?
  • Does the school offer afternoon, weekend or summer school instruction if needed?
  • Does the school welcome parental involvement and make it easy for parents to participate?
  • Does the school offer interpreters for parents who do not speak English?
  • Does the district inform parents of the choices and options available to them under the No Child Left Behind Act?

Teacher Training and Quality

  • Are teachers required to have their teacher certification?
  • Does your child’s teacher hold a degree in the subject he or she is teaching?
  • Does the district have a policy to encourage qualified professionals from other career areas to become classroom teachers?
  • If a teacher is doing his or her job poorly, what procedures are in place for retraining, reassigning or replacing him or her?
  • What types of support systems are in place for new teachers?

Student Discipline

  • Is there an explicit student disciplinary policy? How does the school inform parents when their child has misbehaved and been placed in detention, suspended or expelled?
  • Does the school track attendance? What are the penalties for unexcused absences?
  • How many incidents of violence, vandalism, or substance abuse occurred on school property last year?

Resources

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