School Maze Part 1


Navigating the School Maze, Part 1

Getting Started in the Right Direction

When choosing a new home, parents of young children are keenly interested in the area’s school system.  What is the class size?  Do the test scores measure up? Will it serve the needs of my children? Are public or private schools the best option for my children?

It is a good idea to find out exactly which school your child will be attending before making your home buying decision.  A good place to find comprehensive information on California schools is the California Department of Education website, which offers a search by city and/or county.

Public school district web sites often have maps of their districts and school area boundary and some even allow you to enter the address of your potential home to find out which school your child will be going to.

Some important criteria to check out:

  • Student-teacher ratio (this tells you the average class size)
  • Enrollment by race-ethnicity
  • Performance on STAR (Standardized Testing and Reporting) tests

Test scores, while providing some indication of the quality of the school, are not the only thing to consider when evaluating a school for your child. A school with top scores may have a highly competitive atmosphere that won’t be comfortable for your child.  Smaller class size might be more important, or a focus on a particular academic interest.

Now that you have gathered all the stats on potential schools, you are ready for the litmus test: visiting the school.

There is no substitute for a personal site visit.  If at all possible, take your children to their potential school and check it out.  Be sure to call ahead.  Identify yourself as a potential enrollee and ask for a tour.  As you are being shown around, make note of the atmosphere – friendly and positive or rushed and chaotic?  You can tell a lot about a school by the way your children are welcomed on the tour.


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