Despite the thought and care put into school selection, it is possible to discover down the line that a child’s school is not meeting his or her educational needs. So how does a parent go about making a change?
Parents should start by gauging pertinent factors of a school, to ensure that their child will receive a high quality education and will have the opportunity to grow socially. Parents ought to examine key areas such as the school’s quality of teachers, class sizes, parent-teacher relationships, and whether or not the school’s academic curriculum is rigorous.
According to the case study “Disruption versus Tiebout Improvement: The Costs and Benefits of Switching Schools” featured in the “Journal of Public Economics,” children who are relocated to another school midyear will often experience social and academic difficulties. But if the reason for the transfer is to remove the child from an unappealing social or academic circumstance, rather than due to a life altering occurrence such as a divorce or a parent’s loss of employment, students have been known to excel.
Gina Paul, a school counselor for Lake Minneola High School, states, “A parent can transfer their child at any time during the school year.” However, she continues, they are some factors parents need to consider:
- Is the new school zoned for the family’s home address? If not, parents must look into getting a Zoned Waiver, where both school principals determine whether the reason for leaving the school is suitable.
- Would the child’s grades be transferable to the new school? Parents might want to be sure that their child has completed mid-term or final exams before initiating a transfer.
- Parents might also consider homeschooling; in some cases, this can be the best option.
4 More Things to Consider
1. Observe the classroom and class size
Parents should compare average class sizes between the school their child is currently attending, and the school into which he or she wants to transfer. This can have a huge influence on the culture of a learning environment; parents can ask themselves, do students receive individual attention? Are they encouraged to participate? How is discipline handled in the classroom? Will this be a cultural shift from our current school?
2. Determine the quality of teachers
Parents should also question each school’s philosophy regarding professional development, determine the effectiveness of the school’s teaching practices, and the qualifications attained by individual teachers and the institutions as a whole. Are the teachers certified and experienced in their subject matter? Do they use different teaching styles to adapt to each child’s unique learning needs?
3. Define parent-teacher relationships
Parents considering this change of schools are already invested in their student’s academic experience. Does the new school foster parental involvement? Do teachers and staff seem welcoming? How do they communicate with parents? Is there an active parent-teacher organization? Are parents involved in key decisions? Are home learning activities encouraged?
4. How rigorous is the school’s academic curriculum?
Finally, parents should assess a school’s criteria and its expectations of its students, and ask to go over the curriculum with teachers and administrators. Are students pushed to excel? Is college preparation a priority? Does the school employ a wide variety of learning experiences? How are expectations communicated? How is progress measured?
While switching schools mid-year (or even during summer break) is never ideal, parents must sometimes intervene socially and academically before it’s too late.