Checklist: What to Look For in a Private School

By Geri Coleman Tucker
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Want to make sure the private school you’re considering works well for children with learning and thinking differences? Here are key things you’ll want to check.

Looking for a school that’ll be just right for your child? Check out, where you can search for schools in your area and find out which ones will serve your child best.

The Stats and Standings

  • The school is accredited. Contact your school district to find out how your state handles accreditation. You can also check its status at AdvancED.

  • The school gets high marks for its ranking and student performance on standardized tests.

  • If it’s a high school, most students graduate on time and many go on to college.

The Most Important Stuff

  • The school’s publicity material openly states that it serves students with challenges similar to your child’s.

  • The school is specific about how teachers and staff can support your child’s academic, social, and emotional needs.

  • Your child will be working with teachers who have special training to instruct and support students with learning and thinking differences.

  • Guidance counselors, psychologists, or other specialists are available to your child.

  • Teachers work together and share information in ways that will help your child learn.

  • The school offers tutoring, homework help, and afterschool enrichment and sports activities that can build on your child’s strengths and help with challenges.

  • You’re comfortable with the school’s approach to discipline and safety, and its policies are clearly explained in the parent handbook.

  • The school will allow your child extra time on exams, a quiet place to take tests, or other accommodations.

  • Students with learning and thinking differences are part of all classes and activities.

  • The school’s teaching methods will build on your child’s strengths.

  • The school has a specific plan for monitoring your child’s progress and keeping you informed.

The Buzz

  • There are scholarships available to help with tuition costs.

  • From what you saw of the facilities and the other students, this looks like a place where your child will fit in well.

  • Your child likes the school.

  • You know other parents who’ve had children attend here, and they say good things.

  • Professionals who work with your child or who work with children with learning and thinking differences think highly of the school.

Choosing a school for your child is a big decision. Learn more about what to look for. And try to avoid these common mistakes some parents make when choosing a school.

About the Author

About the Author

Geri Coleman Tucker 

is a freelance writer and editor and a former deputy managing editor forUSA Today.

Reviewed by

Reviewed by

Bob Cunningham, EdM 

serves as executive director of learning development at Understood.

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