Evaluating Schools

Here you will find resources and tools to aid in your search and evaluation of private schools. Explore the ranking system and read what schools have to say about it. Learn more about the most important questions to ask and how an education consultant can get answers. Use our checklists to help compare school administration, curriculum and more.
View the most popular articles in Evaluating Schools:
The scenario is not as uncommon as you might think. After all you have spent a considerable amount of time researching and visiting schools in a serious effort to get it right. But after a few months you realize that something isn't right. Your child is miserable. Well, that's just one of the reasons why you might want to change schools. Let's look at some other reasons.
 
1. Your child has been expelled.
 
Ouch! This reason for changing schools is rather like being fired. It's enormously dispiriting and in many ways a life-changing experience just like losing your job is. Continuing that analogy, finding a new school for a child who has been expelled is just as difficult as finding a new job. Expect to have lots of questions asked. Have your answers well thought out. Do not equivocate. Answer the questions truthfully. The school will want to know if your child has learned his lesson. Do not speak ill of his previous school. Nobody wants to admit a trouble maker. Contrition is your watchword.
 
2. Your child has not been asked back.
 
While not as serious as being expelled, not being asked back indicates that something went wrong. Unless you plan to move out of the country, be prepared to answer some in-depth questions about why your child's previous school was not a good fit. If there were issues which the previous school felt needed to be addressed, then be sure to have your corrective action plan in full swing. They will ask
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In the early stages of identifying private high schools for your child, reading the catalogs and scanning school web sites will give you a lot of information. Just be aware that this is the information which the schools want to present. Marketing if you will. While there is certainly nothing wrong with putting your best foot forward, the reality is that you need to lift the hood and see what's inside. These five basic questions should be part of your due diligence as you sort through schools and begin to determine which one is the best fit for your child.
 
Get the answers to your questions two ways: by reading the materials offered and by asking in person. Incidentally, if you have decided to use the services of an educational consultant, these are questions which she can answer for you. Then all you have to do is follow up when you visit the schools and affirm what you already know.
 
1. What are they teaching?
 
For most parents this is the first question on the list. Priority #1. It plays to our concern about what kind of college or university our child will ultimately attend. Preparing for that next step is a huge undertaking and we know that we have to get it right. College preparation is a 3-4 year project.
 
So do your research carefully. This is where you need to get granular and actually review the various components of the school's curriculum and determine if they meet your objectives. If they
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"How do they teach?" is a question which you need to ask as you evaluate schools on your short list. This question has been on your mind ever since you began considering sending your child to private school. While it certainly is relevant at almost any stage of the school selection process, it becomes critically important now that you are circling around those final few schools on your list. Be sure to have the question answered. You can do this by asking the admissions staff how the teaching is done at their school. They are accustomed to answering the question and will provide a detailed explanation for you. Furthermore I do recommend that you ask the identical question at each school you visit. Then you will be able to compare apples to apples, having asked the same question at each school.
 
Whether you are looking at your options for preschool, primary school, middle school or high school, how the teachers teach is just as important as what they teach. As you review each school's curriculum, familiarize yourself with how that curriculum is taught. Make sure that everything matches your requirements and expectations.
 
Laying the Groundwork for an Education
 
Let's look at three areas of concern which we as parents have faced outside the classroom as we raised our children. From infancy we have had control of what we taught. We have shaped our child's thinking up to the point where she went off to preschool and kindergarten. In school everything changes once
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Here are 5 reasons why you ought to consider using a consultant to help you find the right school.
 
1.  Consultants know their schools.
 
Why is this important? After all, the internet gives you everything you need to know about schools, right? Not exactly. Don't forget that a school's web site presents its story as the school wants it told. The videos are compelling. The photos are gorgeous. And the testimonials are glowing. As they should be. However, an educational consultant works for you. Not the school. She is paid by you. Not the school. She will point out features and aspects to a school's program which you perhaps have not thought of. Why is that? Because she is a professional. Just like an attorney will point out the pluses and minuses in a contract, an educational consultant can and will point out the advantages and disadvantages of a particular school as they relate to your child.
 
2.  Consultants have contacts at schools.
 
Educational consultants visit schools. They make a point of keeping their networks current. As a result they can get answers to questions which you may or may not think about asking. They will know that a certain school has just been made an IB school and what that means and says about the school's programs. They will know that the long time English department head has retired and that some exciting, new programs are in the works. That means that an educational consultant can get answers to your questions because
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When you begin comparing schools on your short list, you need to review what is being taught and how it is being taught. Instruction goes to the heart of what private schools are really all about. That is the main reason private schools exist. Parents want certain things taught and they want them taught a certain way. The state education department will require every school under its jurisdiction to meet certain minimum requirements. For example, a high school student must receive a certain number of credits in English and mathematics in order to graduate. Private schools typically exceed any minimums specified by the state department of education.
 
With this as a backdrop you want to take time to review the courses offered in the schools on your short list. Do they match your objectives and requirements? Do they offer the depth and intensity which you want your child to have? For example, Shakespeare is taught in many public high school English courses. Typically one play will be covered. By contrast a private school English class will read two or three Shakespeare plays. Because private school classes are small and the students focused on their academic work, much more can be accomplished.
 
International Baccalaureate
 
About thirty private schools offer a curriculum known as the International Baccalaureate. It is a comprehensive program which covers kindergarten through 12th grade. The diploma program is offered in high school. Like any other international diploma the IB offers consistency and a high standard. As a result
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