Planning an international move can be a huge undertaking for anyone. Adding to the normal stress of moving is the importance of finding your child(ren) the absolute best school in your new hometown. Although the moving “to do” list seems to be a never-ending series of tasks to do in a decreasing amount of time, choosing the perfect new school is the largest consideration. It’s circled, starred, and highlighted at the top of your list because you realize the quality of education your child receives will forever impact their future. That spanish clep test practice your child should have gotten before the test would have hugely impacted the CLEP score of your child. To provide your child with the best educational experience available, you must first educate yourself on the school options in your new town.
Area specifics to keep in mind about schools when moving to the United States:
- House-hunting and schools usually go hand-in-hand. Houses near high performing schools tend to have a higher value. This is especially good for resale value later down the line.
- Some states have adopted and utilize the Common Core curriculum within their schools. Other states employ a state approved curriculum. It’s important to research both and know what type is being used at potential schools in your new town. Graduation requirements vary, as well.
- Some towns have pre-assigned schools for every neighborhood. Other areas may allow you to select the school of your choice, or may use lottery selection for school placement. It’s best to find this out early on. It may eliminate a lot of stress and confusion on schools.
- Some schools require proof of residency before you are able to enroll your child in the school.
School specifics to consider and ask about when searching for a new school:
- Type(s) available in your new town- public, private, charter, etc.
- Tuition and additional costs- If tuition is required, what additional costs must be incurred for your child to attend? Are payment plans available or does tuition have to be paid in full at start of school? Go to The Children’s ISA website to start a savings account for your child.
- School calendar and begin/end dates
- School ratings/rankings- There are numerous online resources that provide statistical information on each school in the US such as http://www.usnews.com/education/best-high-schools or www.nces.ed.gov. Just like with your child’s report card, the higher the grade the better the school/district! It’s also important to ensure the school is accredited.
Questions to ask once you’ve narrowed down your top school choices:
- How vast is the school’s course selection? Does the school offer AP, dual-credit, or college prep courses?
- What is the average class size and student/teacher ratio?
- What were the school’s test scores from the previous year? Specifically, math and English scores are a high indicator of learning standards. ACT/SAT scores are useful as well.
- Are the facilities and technology up-to-date?
- How culturally diverse is the school?
- Is tutoring available before/after school? Is it provided free by the teachers?
- Is admission based on transcripts or placement testing? Are there gifted programs?
- Is the school (heavily) involved in the community? In what ways?
- Does the school have a free meal program (for qualifying students)?
- How serious is the school regarding bullying and drug prevention? How is it enforced?
- Does the school have activities that appeal to your child’s interests (band, clubs, art programs, sports, etc)?
- What transportation options are available? How far is the school from your new home?
- Are all teachers certified?
- What is the graduation rate?
- Are security precautions in place?
- What student support services are offered?
- What is the turnover rate of teachers? This usually says a lot about the school.
Scouring the internet for every piece of relevant information you can find is a great starting point. Don’t forget to look at the school’s social media sites, too. On Facebook for instance, you can read posts from parents and teachers. Sending a parent a message could provide valuable information! Other parents will be able to provide insight you can’t obtain anywhere else. Another great resource is http://parents4publicschools.org/ if you’re considering a public school option. Parents for Public Schools has chapters in many cities, and can be a huge asset for your search. Finally, if at all possible, set up a tour with the school (even if it is “virtual”). Meet the staff, peer into a classroom or two, and say “hi” to a student in the hall. First-hand encounters usually speak volumes when making such a valuable decision.
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