Education - Local Schools

Choosing the right school for their children is a priority for military families. This article describes excellent resources for your use in planning for your child's educational needs. Parents can find current information about public, charter and private schools by using the tools below:

1. How do I choose a good school?

Choosing a School for Your Child is a U.S. Department of Education publication that will help families identify what is important in selecting a school.

The School Visit: What to Look For, What to Ask . Whether you are choosing a school for the first time, or because you are in transition, this site will provide you with information about what to do and what to ask.

2. What schools are in my area (or in the area where I may move), and how good are they?

Several high quality commercial tools are available to assist in making decisions about which school to choose for your child. Listed below are these website tools along with information on how you access the information and what type of information each site provides.

Both Great Schools and School Matters provide a wealth of information for parents:
  • School contact information
  • Distance from zip code (provide the installation zip code, or the zip code of the area where you will be living)
  • Public, private or charter school designation
  • Student/teacher ratios
  • Free and reduced school lunch program (an estimate of economic disadvantage)
  • Great Schools provides a rating of schools and a parent comment section
  • Percentage of students meeting or exceeding the state standards in math, reading and language arts
  • Teachers - average number of years teaching experience, % of first year teachers on the staff
  • Students: Average percentage of students absent from school for more than 15 days
  • Ethnic breakdown and percent of students with English as a second language
  • School Matters provides college prep scores (PSAT, SAT, ACT test scores)-for high schools only
  • Great Schools also provides parents the ability to rate the schools and make comments on the schools.

For both sites, the user must enter the State and zip code to find schools in the area.

SchoolQuest was developed by the Military Child Education Coalition to help military families select schools. SchoolQuest also offers an Online Library that provides resources for families in transition. At this time, the SchoolQuest data base covers 99 military installations. The Military Child Education Coalition also provides a data base of information on each State's educational system.

The School Report Card Tool is available from Military OneSource that list names and locations of public, public charter, private, virtual and home schooling choices around major installations. Charter Schools are nonsectarian public schools of choice that operate with freedom from many of the regulations that apply to traditional public schools. Use this site to find one in your area.

3. How can I help plan for a successful transition in this new school and for my child's school career?

Parents often want to know about the availability of extra curricular activities and sports, or the availability of advanced classes. For these questions, it is best to contact the schools directly. It is important to ask the right questions. The following resources can help with these questions and others.

The Toolkit for Parents was developed by the Department of Defense, especially for Military Families. This 85 page booklet walks parents through preparing for the move and the first two weeks of school....what to ask, what to take, etc.

The Military Impacted Association has checklists available for military kids who are leaving or entering a new school.

The Military Child Education Coalition has a checklist for transferring students that will be helpful. Additionally, through SchoolQuest, MCEC provides parents with the ability to develop a profile for each of their children, which then will provide them with a report on issues related to transferring to a new school district.