Once you’ve narrowed down your possible choices, the next step in the process of choosing a school is visiting the schools you are more interested in. 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 student.
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 academic expectations do you have for your students?
- What do you believe leads to strong student outcomes and student success?
- What percentage of students are performing at grade level in math and literacy? How do you help students who are struggling? Are there opportunities for enrichment?
- How would you describe the culture and climate? Do students like being here? Why?
- How many teachers returned after last year? What about students? What are the student transfer rates?
- How many safety incidents did your school have last year? (Ask for examples.)
- How do you handle student discipline? How will I know if there has been a problem with my child or teen?
- How do you know if students are learning? How do you track student progress individually and as a school?
- What will you do if my child or teen falls behind or struggles in class? Will you contact me?
- Are you responsible for the quality and development of your teachers?
- How do you support your teachers and hold them responsible for student learning?
- For elementary/middle schools: Where do your students go when they leave your school? When they finish eighth grade, do they attend high-quality high schools? What schools?
- For high schools: What do your students do after graduation? What percentage of them attend college? What other pathways do students pursue?
When You Walk the Halls
- How do students behave as they move from class to class or play outside?
- Are hallways clean and well-kept? What about the bathrooms?
- Does recent student work appear on walls or bulletin boards?
When You Visit Classrooms
- Watch for student engagement. Are all students meaningful engaged either by paying attention to the teacher, participating in a learning activity or participating in a discussion?
- 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?
- Do students and teachers treat one another respectfully?
- 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.
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