If you are considering enrolling your child in a charter school, think about where the school is located and if it is a reasonable distance from your home.
Then plan a visit to the school, meet the principal, some teachers, and…
What kind of technology is used to support teaching and learning?
What academic courses does the charter school offer? Do they offer AP/Honors classes?
Are art, music, or any other “special” classes offered?
Does the charter school offer any kind of extracurricular activities, such as a school choir, band or orchestra, school newspaper, or drama club?
Are any counseling services offered, or does the school contract with an outside agency to provide free counseling services to students?
How does the school support students with special needs? If my child has transportation included in his/her IEP, who provides the transportation?
Does the charter school offer a free or reduced lunch program?
What is the background of the current principal, and how long has he or she been with the charter school? Has the principal ever been an educator?
How many certified teachers/ “highly qualified teachers” work at the charter school?
Are there professional development opportunities for teachers?
How does the school select its teachers?
Has there been a lot of staff turnover since the school has been open?
Does the charter school have a nurse on staff? If so, is the nurse full-time or part-time?
Does the charter school have a guidance counselor? If so, is the guidance counselor full-time or part-time?
Does the charter school have one or more certified special education teachers on staff who support ESL, GT, SPED? If so, is the teacher full-time or part-time?
Does the charter school have a school psychologist on staff? If not, does the school have a contract with an outside agency to provide psychological services?
Does the charter school require parents to volunteer? If so, what options do working parents have to fulfill volunteer commitments?
Is there an active Parent Teacher Organization?
Are there any required parent conferences or meetings?
Are there parents/educators on the Board of Trustees? Where and when are the meetings held?
General questions about the charter school
What is the charter school’s “mission”?
What is the admission’s policy? Is there a wait list? How long?
Ask about the curriculum.
What are the academic/graduation requirements?
How long has the charter school been open?
When does the school day begin/end?
Is there a dress code?
Is transportation to the charter school available? Are there organized parent carpools?
Does the school make “adequate yearly progress (AYP)” required by the No Child Left Behind law?
What is the student/teacher ratio?
What is the student withdrawal rate?
Is there a Student Handbook? Ask to see it.
What are the policy/procedures for field trips?
Is there a Code of Student Conduct?
What is the school’s approach towards student discipline and safety?
What is the school’s policy to support students with academic, social or emotional difficulties?
What is the school’s attendance policy?
Check out the school’s calendar.
What are the homework expectations?
Check out how well the facilities are maintained.
Do students get their own books, and if so, can they take the books home?
Does the charter school have a library, a gym?
That’s A LOT of questions, so think about the questions that are most important to you and your family and get those questions answered. And remember to take advantage of the charter school’s website where a lot of these questions can be quickly answered.