Finding the perfect charter school for your child can feel overwhelming, so you need a good strategy for going about the hunt. From honing in on what you want, to observing the school’s environment in action, Vanessa Descalzi of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools takes us through a series of steps to find the best match.
The first step in your search: Log into the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools dashboard. “This will show you the number of charter schools in your community, the student demographics of those schools, and it’ll break down each state’s charter schools into districts so you can really see the numbers,” explains Descalzi. Once you’ve narrowed down a list of top choices, go to each school’s individual website. There, parents can read testimonials, get educated on the academic offerings, and even scroll through photos.
Parents should identify exactly what they’re looking for in a school, says Descalzi. And given that charter schools have the freedom to be more innovative with their teaching methods, there’s a lot to consider. “Some charter schools might have longer school days or a longer school year,” she explains. “Others may utilize next generation learning models and combine traditional classroom instruction with technology or focus on music, aviation, or computer programming. There’s even some that have community partnerships where they bring in local businesses and organizations to teach after school.” The expert recommends that parents outline what approach might best support the needs of their child, and then choose a schooling accordingly.
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“The great thing about charter schools is the whole premise behind it, which is that there’s no one size fits all approach to public education,” says Descalzi. “Each child has unique learning needs, so it’s really important to get to know a school on a more personal level.” And the best way to do that is by taking an individual tour, she says. Not only will this give parents a feel for the overall environment, but it’ll also give them an opportunity to talk to the teachers and staff and observe the classroom instruction. Plus, in-person tours also tend to give you the most information. “And at the end of the day, the more information you could gain about any school where you wish to send your children, the better.”