There were 98,454 public schools in the U.S. as of the 2012-2013 academic year, and there were 30,861 private schools as of the 2011-2012 school year, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. With all the different school choices, how do you make sure you’re selecting the right one for your child? Here are some tips to help you make your decision.

1. Budget

For most families, whether they can send a child to public or private schools is going to be a very important factor in their decision. Tuition is prohibitive for the majority of American families. However, some public schools that offer great programs for, say, gifted education, drama, music, art, science, math, or technology are public schools, and they are difficult to gain admission to.

2. Educational Philosophy

While budget definitely plays an important role in determining what school to send your child to, the educational atmosphere and philosophy of a school should also be a factor in your choice. If you believe that your child should be taught in a certain way (i.e., Montessori or Waldorf), then you should try to find a school that matches your preference. Likewise, a school that has a particular set of values and community that it stands for is something to consider. Does the school have an effective leadership/character education program? Do the teachers set high expectations for their students? Is the school a friendly and cheerful place?

3. Performance

While standardized test scores probably shouldn’t be the only criterion on which you base your decision, it should weigh in. How well students do on standardized tests gives you an indication of the level of teaching at the school, the resources it has available, and a general feeling for how well a child is prepared for life after graduation.

There are many other factors that will affect your decision of a school, such as distance from home or work, the availability of after- or before-school care, and the type of community it is in. Make a list of all the advantages and disadvantages to help you make your final decision.

Author: Leyla Norman
Leyla is a certified English as a second language teacher as well as a certified PK-6 and 7-12 English teacher. She lives in Texas with her husband, and three children (The twins keep her the most busy!). She is also a freelance education writer, private English tutor, and student in a master's of Applied Linguistics -TESOL program..