What should I be looking for?
Once you've narrowed down your possible choices, the next step in the process is visiting the schools. Using the information in our profiles and Events page, contact the school(s) to schedule a visit and/or attend an open house. While work schedules can make it hard to find time for visits, there's no better way to know if a school is right for your teen.
It's important to visit during school hours so you can observe classrooms and speak to the principal. You want to see an atmosphere that is welcoming and adults who not only care about the students, but who also clearly expect students to achieve at high levels. Download our school worksheet (see below) to help you take notes during your visit.
The following list of questions can help you navigate all the things you will see and hear while visiting a school.
Questions for the Principal and/or Teachers:
- What are your academic expectations for your students?
- How and when are you available to speak with parents and caregivers? How can I get involved or stay updated?
- What percentage of students are proficient in reading and in math?
- How do you assess student learning and track progress?
- What colleges do your students go on to attend? If not college, what careers are they going into?
- What are your behavioral expectations for your students?
- When issues in the community arise, what does your school do to address them?
- What are the ways you build relationships and a community at your school?
- How do you hire teachers and help them to improve? How long do teachers typically choose to stay at your school?
What to observe when walking the halls:
- How do students behave as they move from class to class?
- Are hallways clean and well-kept? What about the bathrooms?
- Does recent student work appear on the walls or bulletin boards?
What to observe when visiting a classroom:
- Watch for student engagement. Are all students paying attention to the teacher or participating in a learning activity?
- Do students seem interested in what they are doing, or do their minds appear to be somewhere else?
- Are there examples of student work and progress on display?
- Is the classroom clean and orderly?
- Is the teacher pleased to see you?
Looking for more information on finding a great school? See all articles here.