A 4 Step Process

The search for the best school for your child can seem a daunting process, but the U.S. Department of Education and other parent advocacy experts suggest dividing the process into four major phases. When beginning the process of selecting a school, families should first consider the needs of the students and the family, then research school options available. Red Stick Schools Guide has compiled that initial research into one location for families. After that, follow up with visits to observe schools of interest, and finally apply to or enroll in the school or schools of choice. With careful consideration, families can identify the school best suited to serve a child’s particular needs. Below are some tips for completing each step.

Step 1: Consider your child and your family

There is no school option that is a perfect fit for every student or family. When selecting a school, it becomes important to take inventory of the issues that matter most to you. You may have strong preferences regarding the size of a school, location in relationship to your home, extracurricular offerings, school theme, program or focus area. It is helpful to begin evaluating the relative importance of each of these factors in your decision-making process. Identifying the areas that are most important to your family will help to narrow your search. Once you have established a set of criteria, then it is time start the process of evaluating school offerings.

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Step 2: Research school options

Like many parenting decisions, the selection of a great school requires research. Sometimes this is done through informal methods, like talking to friends and family about their knowledge of a school. Other parents opt for collecting more information through brochures, publications and internet research. This school guide was designed to serve as a starting point to assist you in that research. Much of the information about school performance and data has been presented in an easy-to-use format. Additionally, complete school report cards are available from the Louisiana Department of Education. Schools have also been asked to provide supplemental information on specialty programming and school offerings to help inform parent choice. The hard work and time spent researching a quality school will be worth the investment in finding the best education option.

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Step 3: Visit and observe schools

Once you have narrowed school choices by prioritizing your family’s needs and school offerings, the next step may be to visit a few schools to get a sense of the school culture, and to arrange meetings with school leaders. Many campuses have showcases throughout the year that allow an opportunity to experience performances or theme related activities. Some also offer immersive experiences for students to visit, “try on” a school and ask questions of current students. If possible, visit schools during regular school hours to be able to observe classes. Avoid the first and last weeks of a new semester, when routines are often disrupted. Some schools enlist student ambassadors to share their experiences while guiding tours through campus. Campus visits offer students and their families an opportunity to evaluate the school environment to help determine the school that is right for them.

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Step 4: Apply or Enroll for Selected Schools

Application and enrollment periods for the schools in our area vary widely, but the processes are outlined in the school profiles. More information can be obtained by contacting individual schools. It is important to research and observe application processes, deadlines and requirements. Some schools require test scores, interviews, portfolios or application fees. Magnet schools in East Baton Rouge Parish require that families apply during the enrollment window from October to December each year. Many charter schools in the Baton Rouge area use a common enrollment platform accessible at EnrollBR.com.

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