Parents often spend a lot of time when choosing housing looking at schools in the area. Your children will be spending a considerable portion of their childhood there, and a good school will not only increase your child’s chances of getting into a good college, but will also help to teach them information and skills which will be useful for the rest of their lives. Choosing a good school can go a long way in ensuring that your children are well prepared for their adult lives. But how do you know if a school is “good”?

First, I would caution against focusing too much on test scores. The nation has put a lot of focus on standardized test scores in recent years, and while looking at the test scores from a particular school can be a useful metric, I would advise looking further. Passing a test is useful, but a good school can do much more than this. There are absolutely situations where I would recommend attending a school with slightly lower test scores if you have reason to believe that it will be a better fit for helping develop your child’s social and emotional intelligence as well.

When looking at a school, your two resources should be the internet, and face to face interactions. Online, you can often find quantitative information about the school. Looking up principle and superintendent turnover (high turnover= bad), tests scores, and other information can help to inform your decision about whether or not the school will likely be a good choice. However, you should also invest some of your time in meeting people involved with the school.

First, many people recommend that you meet with the principal of a school you are considering. This can be an opportunity to visit the campus as well. Use your intuition. How do the children and teachers look? Does the principal impress you? This face to face time can greatly help you form an understanding of the atmosphere and learning conditions at the school.

I would also recommend talking to parents of children at the school. Talking to a few parents who have children attending can help you get another view on the school. This personal experience will be invaluable for you, so go out of your way to meet with parents. If multiple parents have had bad experiences, I would stay away.