How do I know if this is the best school for my child?


Anonymous, Parent and Noodle staff member

I raised two kids in New York City public schools and volunteered regularly at each of the schools they attended. I got a pretty good view from the inside, and here are some things I'd want to know:

  • How does the school support high-achieving students? What supports does it provide to struggling kids?
  • What are the science, arts, and music programs? How often do students take part in them each week? Does this change as the kids move up in grades?
  • What is the school's approach to learning (textbooks, project-based, interdisciplinary, and so on)?
  • What is the school's position on state assessments?
  • Does the school offer any foreign languages?
  • What are the classroom management practices? How do they discipline students?
  • Are students with special needs in self-contained or general education classes?
  • How can parents be involved in the school?
  • Who staffs lunch and recess?
  • How often do kids get recess?
  • Does the school offer after-school programs?

I'd also look at the students' work in the classrooms and hallways to see if it's rigorous and engaging. Do you see more worksheets or original work? While some of these questions won't necessarily apply to your own child, each of them can add to a fuller sense of the school than you'll get just through the numbers. This is a high-performing school, so the answers to some of these questions may give you more information to decide if it would be a good fit for your child.

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