AAA is working to ensure full transparency during the school evaluation and selection process for the families receiving scholarships from the programs we administer. We believe that families must be provided with tools and information in order to make informed decisions about the educational settings that best fit their children.
We are delighted to announce that Andrew Campanella, the author of the award-winning book, The School Choice Roadmap: 7 Steps to Finding the Right School for Your Child and president of National School Choice Week, is partnering with us to develop these resources.
These resources are being designed to help families navigate the school selection and application process. They will be intended to help identify issues families may wish to consider in choosing a school and inform them about how they may go about accessing and requesting school-specific information or policies. This page is a work-in-process so please check back here often for updates!
7 Steps for Choosing the Right School for Your Child
To get us started, Andrew recommends following these 7 steps:
Step 1: Think back to your own time in school
That’s right: think about your own time in school. How you perceive education, and what you liked the most—or liked the least—about school will help inform your school search. Take some time and write down what you learned the most, liked the most, who taught you the most. Also, write down the things you didn’t like. Then, put those experiences in perspective and remember that your child may have different experiences.
Worksheet: Your Educational Experience
Step 2: Identify your goals for your child
You know more about your child than anyone else on this planet. That is why you are more qualified than anyone else to choose your child’s education. So, take a few minutes and think about your child. What are your hopes, dreams, and goals for your child? Who do you want your child to be? What matters most to you for your child’s future? What are your child’s strengths and weaknesses?
Worksheet: Goals for Your Child
Step 3: Decide what you need and want from a school or learning environment
Now, think about the ideal learning environment for your child. What does that learning environment look like? Are there specific things you know your child will need, such as different instructional strategies? Maybe, there’s a specific theme or subject that motivates your child, or perhaps your child thrives in a smaller school setting. Write all of these things down.
Worksheets: Priorities Rating Exercise and Worksheet
Step 4: Make a list and research schools
To choose the right school or learning environment for your child, you need to know what options are available. Start by making a list of schools in your area. Don’t eliminate any schools because you think some of them might be hard to get in to or be too expensive. Then, look up information about these schools online so you can get a sense of what they offer.
TIP: Private schools participating in Florida’s school choice programs are required to publish on the school’s website, or provide in written format, information for parents regarding the school, including, but not limited to, programs, services, and the qualifications of classroom teachers. If you cannot locate the information on the school website, call the school and ask them how they will provide it to you.
Then, start narrowing your list down, based on the information you find online and in hardcopy, to develop an initial shortlist of schools to consider.
Worksheets: School Research – Big List and Short List
Step 5: Visit schools
School tours are important, and you should visit the schools on your shortlist, ask as many questions as possible, and take detailed notes. Request to discuss their admittance policies, school conduct policies, and school handbook. Visit classrooms, look around, get a sense of the school, the teachers, the school’s values, the school’s approach, and the school’s culture. And throughout your tour, ask yourself: “Is this a learning environment where I can see my child learning, succeeding, being respected, being safe, and being happy?”
Worksheet: School Tour Worksheet and Checklist
Step 6: Evaluate schools
After your tours, look at all of the notes you took before you started your visits and all of your notes from those visits. Which schools or learning environments best meet your child’s needs? Then, narrow your list to two or three finalists, the three schools or learning environments that matter most to you.
Worksheet: School Evaluation Questionnaire
Step 7: Choose the school or learning environment that meets your child’s needs
Sit down as a family and choose the school or learning environment that works best for your child. This is a very personal decision, and every family will pursue this step in a different way. But after you’ve decided, it’s time to apply, submit applications, fill out paperwork, and get your child ready for his or her first day of school!
REMINDER: It is the family’s right and responsibility to read and understand a private school’s admission and conduct policy before requesting to enroll their child(ren) in an eligible private school. The family should not rely solely on the fact that a school meets the scholarship eligibility requirements to determine whether the school is appropriate for their child(ren). Likewise, families should be aware that private schools set their own admission and conduct policies and are not required to enroll a student solely on the basis of their eligibility for a scholarship.
Need assistance locating a school near you? Try our new School Finder Map!
Florida Specific Resources:
Did you know that private schools participating in Florida’s school choice programs are required to publish on the school’s website, or provide in written format, information for parents regarding the school, including, but not limited to, programs, services, and the qualifications of classroom teachers? If you cannot locate a school’s admission policy, school conduct policy, school handbook or any other important information on the school website, call the school and ask them how they will provide it to you.
Helpful tips and information from the Florida Department of Education about Choosing a Private School.
Looking for specific information about a Florida Private School? Try the FL DOE’s Private School Directory.