SELECTING A SCHOOL
The objective in school selection is to find the best possible match between the needs of the student and the education provided by the school. Each student has a unique set of learning abilities, interests and social needs, and each school offers a unique combination of curriculum, teaching philosophy, size, tuition, and student body composition. Because of the number of factors to be considered, and the difficulty in measuring these factors, the selection process is both personal and demanding.
Bennett has developed a checklist that many parents find helpful in evaluating schools. The following are examples of the types of questions that should be asked of any potential new school. Please contact us for the full checklist.
How do students seem to feel about their school—Engaged? Loyal? Enthusiastic?
How diverse is the student body in terms of social, ethnic, religious, or national status? How important is this to you?
What kind of roles do parents play in school affairs?
What is the background of the Head of the School?
Who are the teachers and what are their credentials?
In grades Pre-K through 12, what percentage of teachers have advanced degrees?
What is the school’s Mission Statement?
Is there an identifiable philosophy of education?
What are the education goals of the school and how well does the school community reach those goals?
QUALITY & ASSURANCE
How is the school accredited?
How frequently is the school inspected and by what agencies, to ensure that proper academic standards are maintained?
Does the school undergo periodic peer review?
What is the enrollment of the school?
Is the school in a convenient location?
Does the school provide transportation and food service?
& OTHER COSTS
What is the school’s tuition?
Is financial assistance available?
Are tuition insurance plans available?
The following list provides websites that can be helpful resources. Bennett International does not vouch for the accuracy of information or content on these websites.
The Association of Boarding Schools (TABS)
Private School Admission Testing
Secondary School Admission Test (SSAT)
Independent School Entrance Exam (ISEE)
List of Accrediting Organizations
National Network for Immunization Information (NNII)
Bennett International recommends that all mobile families maintain an “Education Passport” for each of their school-age children. While requirements vary, schools often request the following materials. The below list of items is comprehensive, and not all of the suggested documentation may be necessary or obtainable for a given child. Well-documented education files will greatly facilitate enrollment and class placement procedures, however, so we recommend the creation of as complete a file as possible:
Names and addresses of schools attended and dates of attendance.
Transcripts: copies of course lists, grades, evaluations, and translations, if necessary.
Description of the most recent curriculum: both an official version and teachers’ outlines of the program are useful, as are copies of the most recent math and English textbooks.
Letters from teachers or others who can speak to the child’s achievements, abilities and character. Private schools often require recommendations from former teachers. These may be difficult to obtain during the summer holidays or after a family has relocated.
Summer contact information for teachers and school personnel a family is leaving.
Standardized testing results and evaluations.
Examples of the child’s work: completed assignments from the most recent academic period, writing samples or special projects.
Medical records: an immunization history, information on specific conditions that might affect the child’s participation in any part of a school program, and results of a full physical examination.
Birth certification, a passport and visa.
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In the second part of a series of virtual conversations between Heather Gatto and Cecily Lynett – seasoned Bennett education consultants who specialize in assisting families with school placement in New York City--they share their perspective and advice on how to identify best-fit schools for your child in a landscape of many options; they emphasize, above all else, the importance of keeping your child's unique strengths and characteristics in mind as you explore all the different possibilities.
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