Making Your High School Decision
Below you will find a useful checklist of questions to consider when making your high school decision. While it may be hard to determine the difference between schools, we encourage you to ask many questions, examine the program of studies, tour the school with your daughter and organize a time for her to spend the day. By putting the necessary time and effort into making the high school decision, you are also showing your daughter that you value education and the role it will play in her future.
Click here for a print version of the checklist below.
- Is there a clear mission guiding the school?
- Does the curriculum and do the teachers support this mission?
- Be aware of the academic environment and philosophical principles on which the school is based. Do you support this environment and these principles?
- It is important to know which agencies have accredited the school. Is this particular school an accredited college preparatory school?
- Has this school been awarded any state or national education honors?
- In what other ways have the curriculum and the school’s teachers and administration been recognized for academic excellence?
High Expectations for All Students
- Are the school’s academic standards challenging but achievable?
- Are there additional opportunities for students who excel academically?
- Do all or nearly all students achieve grade level scores?
- What percentage of students continue their education after high school?
- Does the school provide the necessary resources and education about college for students who plan on continuing their education? If so, how? Is this a four-year process or only available when requested?
- Ask to see the school’s curriculum and graduation requirements. Choices in the curriculum help students evaluate what the school has to offer and what classes serve their overall goal.
Monitoring of Student Progress
- How does the school monitor student progress?
- How does the school assist a student who is having academic difficulty? What happens when a student’s grades are below average?
- How do the teachers ensure that every student reaches her maximum potential?
- Are counselors available to work with students to help plan curriculum, outside activities and application strategies directed toward acceptance in the appropriate college?
Parent Communication & Involvement
- How well does this school communicate with its parents?
- Are parents informed about what their child is learning, how well they are doing in class and how to help their child’s performance?
- Are there opportunities for parents to become involved within the school?
- How is the school’s environment? Do students as well as teachers seem generally happy?
- Is diversity present within the school? How does the school encourage and accept diversity?
- Are the school’s resources and facilities in good condition and reflective of good stewardship?
- Do students know how they are expected to behave and what the consequences are for misbehavior?
- How does the school keep students safe from harm (do all visitors need to check in; is there a system for security)?
- What are the discipline policies of the school? How are students treated by teachers and leadership?
- Are there clear performance expectations of the teachers?
- Does the principal recruit and maintain excellent teachers?
- Do teachers actively participate in continuing their own education by attending classes, workshops or conferences? What are the credentials of their faculty?
- Does the principal monitor individual teacher performance, and does he/she act on high or low teacher performance?
- What is the educational philosophy of the school’s leadership? Is it clearly expressed?
Student Involvement & Perception
- Are there numerous opportunities for students to become involved in extracurricular activities?
- Are students encouraged to become involved their freshman year? If so, how?
- How is leadership encouraged? If considering a coed school, are both boys and girls represented in the leadership positions in various extracurricular activities?
- Does the school encourage and provide service opportunities outside of the classroom?
- Have you talked to students who currently attend a school you are considering for your daughter? Ask them about teachers, their own achievements and why they picked the school for themselves.
References & Resources:
Hassel, Bryan C. and Hassel, Emily A. Picky Parent Guide: Choose Your Child’s School with Confidence. Armchair Press LLC, 2004.
Reznicek, Anita M. and Wilson, Faith P. Educating Our Daughters. St. Teresa’s Press, 2003.
Roth, Brandi and Van Der Kar-Levinson, Fay. Choosing the Right School for Your Child. Association of Ideas Publishing, 1995.