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What to Ask About a School

Does your child attend a quality public school?

All children deserve to attend great public schools that provide them with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed. But what makes a quality public school and what can communities do to make sure that every child deserves a quality public education?

Experts agree that quality public schools share 8 key characteristics, including parent and community support. One way that parents and communities can help public schools and students do their best is by staying informed about what’s happening in school and asking questions.

Here are some important questions you can ask:

Questions to Ask Students

  1. If you could create a great public school, what would it be like? How is the school you just described like, or unlike, the school you attend now?
  2. In your opinion, what is your school doing well? Where could things improve?
  3. What are the biggest challenges you face in school? Are there things that teachers, sports coaches, guidance counselors or community members can do to help?

Questions to Ask Teachers

  1. How is my child doing in school? Is my child performing at grade level?
  2. Is my child taking the appropriate coursework?
  3. Are there opportunities at school and in the community for extra help?
  4. What can I do to support my child’s learning at home?
  5. What is the best way to communicate with you? (Email, phone, etc.)

Questions to Ask Principals

  1. Is the school meeting state and federal goals for student performance? If not, what are the school’s plans to improve?
  2. How can I stay informed about school issues and student performance? Is there a school web site or newsletter that is updated regularly?
  3. Are all teachers highly qualified? If not, what are the school’s plans to reach this goal?
  4. What opportunities exist for parents and the community to get involved in school activities?

Questions to Ask School Boards

  1. What do you think is the biggest challenge facing our public schools right now and what is your plan to address it?
  2. In what areas have our public schools been showing improvement?
  3. What is your long-term plan to get and keep good teachers in the classroom?
  4. Does the school district have a formal family involvement policy?
  5. How will parents be involved in plans to improve public education in my community? Does the Board have committees on which parents and other members of the community can serve?

Questions to Ask Elected Officials

  1. What are your top priorities for improving public education?
  2. What will you do to improve the quality of public schools?
  3. What is your plan to provide adequate funding for all public schools?
  4. How will you engage the community, and help schools engage the community, to improve our public schools?
  5. What do you believe are the best ways to evaluate school and student performance?
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