Your Family’s School Choice Priorities

No matter what type of school you end up choosing, it’s crucial to start the process by taking stock of what’s important to you and your family in an educational environment. Every child is different, and the unique preferences your family has are a crucial part of choosing the right fit.

Take this quiz to get a shortlist of your family’s top priorities, which will inform all the next steps you take on your school choice journey. They’ll help you get on the same page as a family, ask the most useful questions on a school tour, and clarify the right choice if you’re intrigued by multiple options.

What is School Choice?

Get a quick rundown

Family Priorities Quiz

Read each of these possible priorities. Then, circle whether you consider each of these items to be: a priority, neutral, or not a priority for you. When you are finished, you’ll have a narrowed list of your must-haves in the school you choose. This quiz comes from The School Choice Roadmap: 7 Steps to Finding the Right School for Your Child by Andrew Campanella, president and CEO of the National School Choice Awareness Foundation.

Do you want a school that focuses specifically on core subjects, such as reading, writing, math, science, and history, so that your child can demonstrate mastery of these subjects? Some parents believe that an active focus on “the basics” will best prepare their children for life.
Do you want a school that focuses on teaching students skills rather than abstract theories? In the competency-based education approach, students learn one skill at a time. Once they master each skill, they move on to the next one.
Critical thinking Do you want a school that focuses on cultivating critical thinking skills in students? These skills include interpreting and analyzing problems and challenges, evaluating possible solutions to specific problems, communicating with others, and, ultimately, solving problems.
Do you want a school that pays particular attention to building students’ characters? This could include educating students on honesty, decision-making, trustworthiness, personal ethics, compassion, fairness, morality, and citizenship.
Do you want a school that offers a specific instructional strategy such as cooperative learning, differentiated instruction, individualized instruction, direct instruction, or inquiry-based teaching? Some parents know which instruction methods work best for their children.
Do you want a school that focuses on a specific subject or theme, such as reading, foreign language immersion, English Language Learner (ELL) education, STEM, or gifted and talented education? Some parents know that their children need or benefit academically from a specific focus.
Do you want a school that prioritizes art and music education? Some students find greater learning—along with greater inspiration and happiness—through art and music classes, activities, or programs.
Do you want to find a school or learning environment with a specific approach to using technology? Some parents know that their children acquire knowledge more quickly when they are paired with effective technology, while other parents find that technology distracts their children.
Do you want a school that—in terms of the total number of students enrolled—is smaller or larger than most? Some students learn more in smaller schools that have fewer students, while other students find that they benefit from schools with more students.
Do you want a school that has a specific student-to-teacher ratio or class size? Some students might learn more effectively in smaller classes, while other students might feel more comfortable—and thus learn more effectively—in larger classes.
Do you want your child to learn about a trade, craft, or specific type of career while in school? These programs can include career-focused studies on everything from health care to technology, culinary arts, vehicle repair, plumbing and carpentry, and more.
Do you want a school that offers a specific set of advanced coursework, such as honors courses, Advanced Placement (AP) classes, an International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum, or a program designed to serve gifted and talented students?
Do you want a school that provides opportunities for students who have struggled in specific subjects or previously failed classes to be able to retake these classes using a different instructional strategy that might be a better fit for them?
Do you want a school that prioritizes social-emotional learning (a learning strategy that focuses on helping students work with teachers and parents to learn emotion management, how to set and achieve goals, and how to show empathy for others)?
Do you want a school that offers sports programs, clubs, activities, and extracurriculars? Some parents seek schools that offer specific activities, while other parents simply want a variety of sports or activities from which their child could choose.
Do you want a school that has a specific approach to or policy regarding student homework? Some parents feel that too much homework can have a negative effect on student learning. Other parents believe that if students receive no homework, they might miss out on learning opportunities.
Do you want a school that offers a specific approach to standardized testing or preparation for standardized testing? Some parents find these assessments to be valuable tools, while other families worry that too much “test prep” takes away from learning.
Do you want a school that emphasizes community service, volunteerism, or community involvement? Some parents believe that their children’s learning is positively affected by these types of programs and by increased community involvement in schools.
Do you believe that your child’s learning will be affected significantly by things like the cleanliness, noise, temperature, lighting, air quality, or accessibility of a school building? Do you have a particular atmosphere- or environment-related concern?
Do you want a school that offers a specific approach to student discipline? For example, some parents might want a school with a stricter approach, while other parents prefer more leniency. Some parents feel that a specific discipline policy has a significant impact on their child’s learning.
Do you want a school that offers a breakfast program, an after-school care program, social services, counseling, or health services?
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