New York City Department of Education is the
largest system of public schools in the United States.



Identifying the Right School for Your Child

Evaluate the Schools

Use these questions to help you evaluate the school:

  • How would you describe a school that would suit your child(ren)?  In what ways does the school you are visiting echo your feelings of what is right for him/her? In which ways might this school be less than ideal for your child(ren)?
  • Are there features of the school that you really like?
  • Are there features of the school that make you uncomfortable?
  • Is there something pushing you to make this choice even if it does not feel comfortable?
  • Have you viewed and thought enough about the other available educational options to comfortably rule them out? What would the logistics of your life look like if you send your children to each of these schools? Could you live with them?
  • How do the children look at the school – happy, engaged, and active, disciplined?
  • How do the teachers look – interesting, animated, hands-on?
  • Is the classroom environment stimulating, overfull?
  • Do the teachers have the time and means to address the learning and emotional needs of each child regardless of ability level? Are there specific programs in place to differentiate instruction according to individual need?

Ask the Schools

Use these questions during your school visit:


  • What kind of testing will the children undergo? Subjects? Length of the test?
  • How will my child(ren) be challenged academically?
  • What kind of additional help will be offered if my child is struggling in some area?
  • What percentage of students receives after-school academic tutoring?
  • How does the school provide feedback once the child is enrolled? Report cards, progress reports, parent teacher conferences, other communication channels?
  • How are individual differences among children handled? Children who need extra help? Children who need extra challenge? Other?
  • What foreign languages are offered, beginning at what grade level, and what method of instruction is used?
  • What reading program is offered?
  • Does the high school follow the AP/IB curriculum? If so, what courses are taught at the AP level? If not, what kinds of challenging courses are offered in their place?
  • Is interdisciplinary instruction used in high school? To what end, and how is it implemented?



School Population

  • What kind of child thrives here?
  • What kind of child struggles here?
  • How many nationalities/ethnicities are enrolled?
  • Does one nationality/ethnicity dominate the student population?
  • What is the school’s policy on diversity and how do you encourage relationships among children of different backgrounds, and appreciation for each other’s heritage and beliefs?



  • What is the nature and extent of parental involvement?
  • What are the school rules?
  • What is your philosophy on disciplining students?
  • Is there a religious affiliation? How is it demonstrated and how would it impact the experience of a student from a different religion?
  • How have students of different cultural backgrounds been received?
  • What type of mentor/advisor programs do you have in place? How will they aid in and monitor the development of my child?
  • What kinds of financial donations are expected above and beyond tuition and fees?



  • What is the admission policy regarding sibling preference? Children of alumni?


Extracurricular Activities

  • What sports are offered? What is the athletic facility like? Describe the athletic program. What are the rules about who plays on teams and who doesn’t?
  • What arts (music, drama, visual arts) are offered? What is the system for enrolling children in an arts class? What about auditioning for a play or a music performance?
  • What are the after school activities offered? Timing? Cost?



  • Where do other students live predominantly?
  • Is there a bus pick up and drop off offered?
  • Is there a late drop off offered for children doing after school activities?


What’s Next?

Speak to a consultant

Learn about school placement and advisory services