Posted June 6, 2007 2:44 p.m. EDT
Outstanding Independent Education
With the increase in the Triangle’s population, school enrollment has risen, including in secular private schools. Parents new to the area can find it bewildering to find the right school for their children. The North Carolina Division of Non-Public Education (DNPE), an oversight agency that sets requirements for private schools, can assist you in whittling down your choices, with a few tips below.
First, compile a list of potential schools, using either your local telephone book or the DNPE site: www.doa.state.nc.us/dnpe. Schools on the DNPE site meet the state’s non-public school requirements.
Next, narrow the list down by grades offered; distance from your home or workplace; the school’s size; and the student-teacher ratio. Then obtain each school’s registration and admission information. Don’t be afraid to ask for information about each school’s activities, programs and sports, either!
Examine each school’s mission, philosophy, and priorities on education. How long has each school existed, and is enrollment rates stable? What are its policies in discipline, code of conduct, homework, grading and report cards? Also, examine what each school costs, whether it is financially stable, and whether financial aid is offered.
Inquire into the experience and academic backgrounds of the teaching faculty, and check on faculty turnover rates. How have they performed on national standardized tests? Check for graduation rates and collegiate acceptance rates of seniors. Have each school provide you with at least three current or former school parents to contact for references.
The next step is to visit each school. Call and schedule a tour of the school, particularly when classes are in session. You can go alone the first time, and then come a second time with your child. Speak with teachers and observe their teaching styles and the learning environment in their classrooms.
Then, make a choice based on what you feel is the best match for your child and go for it. With numerous private schools, you’re sure to find just the right school and environment for your child!