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Pick the best school for your child

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Posted: Thursday, May 10, 2012 6:45 pm

It is that time of year again, the time to reassess our children’s school system and determine if it meets our expectations. In early May and throughout the summer schools reevaluate their budgets, curriculums, and staffing, so why don’t we (the customer) do the same.

With the ever going number of public, private, parochial, and public-charter school options surrounding our neighborhoods it is our parenting right to find the best school for our children. However, we are often content with the school down the street and, in most cases, I find parents are not even aware of how the school their children attend academically ranks statewide. As parents we surf the Internet looking for the best job, the best Christmas presents for our kids, even the best café to eat at, but seldom do I run across parents who have researched the best school for their children.

In this day and age we always want the best, the fastest, the latest, so I thought I would help the parents of today understand two quick and simple tips on picking the best school for your children.

1. What grade did your child’s school receive from Arizona Department of Education (ADE)? You can find this information at http://www.azed.gov/research-evaluation/files/2011/10/2011schoola-f.xls. How are grades assigned by ADE? Schools can earn up to 200 points. The first 100 points is calculated by the pass/fail rate of the student, simply how many students in the school passed vs. failed the AIMS test. The second 100 points is calculated by growth, the growth calculation is a bit more complex, but to simplify it ADE compares students AIMS scores from one year to the next to see how schools are improving the education of all the students from one year to another.

2. Do you know the three most important academic questions to ask your school, your child’s teacher, and yourself? The first question is: “What should my child know each year according to the Department of Education?” The second question is: “Where is my child academically according to the State Standards?” The third and final question is “How are we going to get my child to the level he/she needs to be at?” As parents if we learn the right questions to ask and expect our educators to know the answers to these questions we will begin forging the correct educational path; a path towards accountability for our educators and for all parents.

From one parent to the mass of parents it is time we rise up and realize that we are our children’s first teachers, let’s get out there and hold ourselves and our schools accountable for our children’s education. Research the schools in your area and remember Arizona has an open enrollment school system, if you are not pleased with your child’s school because they don’t live up to your expectations academically choose a school that can provide the best well-rounded education for your child.

Adam Sharp

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