If you are a parent, one of the most important factors is in choosing where to live is the school district. Children typically spend at least six of their waking hours in school each day, so it has a profound influence over their lives. You also want to ensure your children are going to get the best education possible and, as the numbers often show upon closer look at average test scores and percentages of children who go on to college, not all schools are created equal.
It can be difficult if you are moving to an unfamiliar area to know which school districts are best or even where to begin to find out. The best way to learn about an area is to ask multiple people who live around there and see what most of the locals consider to be the best school district and why. If you do not know anyone from the area to which you are looking to move, ask the real estate agent you are working with and anyone else you happen to meet or have to work with from that area. You can also go to the website City Data and visit their forums. Choose the forum from the state you are looking to move to, and ask the questions you have. You’ll be sure to get many answers and the chances are good that you may not even have to ask because someone else already has, and the answers will be posted there.
Do Some Research
Word of mouth is not the only resource you’ll want to use in finding out about local schools. You will want to find out the facts for yourself by looking into the ratings and statistics. A wonderful website for this is Great Schools.org. You can search by zip code for all the schools within a designated radius. Each school is rated from one to ten, with ten being the best. The ratings are based on the most recent standardized test scores. You can also view parent reviews, student to teacher ratios, and more.
Another site you can check out is Education.com
. This site is very similar to Great Schools in that it gives every school a ranking based on test scores and shows you reviews and demographics. With this site, you can also view boundaries on a map so you can tell exactly what school your children will be attending if you move to a certain address.
Homefair.com is a real estate site that has a great section on schools. Again, you can put in the zip code and be shown all the schools in the area. The test score ranking will be there for comparison. When you click on a school’s name all the information is displayed on one page, which makes research fast and convenient. The information includes student to teacher ratio, how many students and teachers the school has in total, what grades attend the school, and more.
The National Center for Education Statistics has a wonderfully detailed site that displays information on both districts and individual schools. You will find information here that is not typically on other sites, such as how many students in a certain district have an IEP and how many students receive a reduced price lunch.
If you are moving to a new state, The Nation’s Report Card will show you how each state measures up against national standards. You can also see if the scores in that state have been improving each year or if they have been on a downward trend.
Check Schools Out For Yourself
Now that you have collected all your information from word of mouth and from looking at the statistics, you probably have a good idea of what school you would like your children to attend. However, before you make the final decision, you should visit the school in person if this is at all possible. If it is not possible, see if you can arrange a phone interview with the principal.
Once you are in the school, ask if you can have a tour. Pay special attention to the projects you see hanging in the hallways. Ask yourself if they are up to par with what you would like your children to work on while they’re in school. Also, observe how the children are behaving in the halls and in the classrooms. Are they engaged and interested? Are the children in the hall behaving appropriately? Small details like this can clue you in to how the school runs overall.
Find out what extracurricular activities are available for the students and what type of technology they are using in the classrooms. Ask for a copy of the curriculum so you can look it over and compare it with other those of other schools. Ask any other questions you may have, even down to the smallest detail in order to ensure that you feel comfortable with your child in this setting. Utilizing these tactics will ensure that you have done the proper research to find the right school for your children. You’ll be able to move with confidence knowing that you are relocating to a place where your children will thrive by getting a both an enjoyable and quality education.
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