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Question
Dear Sir:
My daughter is in kindergarten at a local public school.  By all accounts she is doing fine.  She can count to over 100, write all her letters and numbers, is learning all of her sight words, and reading simple books.  She is also doing simple addition and subtraction and I've been working with her to spell her words as she learns them.

Her homework typically consists of counting and the tracing the number that is already on the page.  I feel like she should be doing more although I realize other students in her class may still be learning those things.  

The elementary school she attends now has the best test scores in our county.  It has been awarded an schhol of distinction honor from the state of NC for many years in a row.  This is the state' highest honor.  Although I like the school, I feel NC is lacking in education.

In a neighboring town, there is a charter school.  Hard to get in to b/c everyone wants to send their kids there.  I have several friends whose older children attend and they say that the cirriculum os jarder and much more homework.  They have always been teaching core cirriculum and the county just switched to core.  It has more of the haves and almost none of the havenots that attend.  Although their test scores arent great, they are still considered a better school than oublic.

I looked at their cirriculum for 'k' and sent in an application.  I got a call that they would be calling for an assessment next week.  Now comes the hard question:  do we switch our daughter from public to charter?  Do those test scores mean anything or is a more challenging cirriculum the best way to go?

Answer
Dear Jessica:

To evaluate a school that is ranked as ” above average which is known as “Good” Schools” from below average” Standard” ones you need to look for certain main and valuable learning aspects and attributes that effectively challenge the students at any age.

However, there are certain important factors that parents should pay more attention to when it comes to choosing schools for their kids  (young and old) more than ever before; such as: Teachers’ methodology, the extent of their knowledge of the subject matter, and especially their impact on the student’s education outcome.

Therefore, school effectiveness that is regarded only by their test scores can be misleading.  Test scores are not the only main factor or criteria to use as a base to evaluate schools’ performance, student’s learning out come, progress, and knowledge, because” good quality” knowledge is definitely the foundation of learning.

If the public school you have mentioned in your concern is known by its good record concerning students’ learning progress, and above all that your daughter is learning and also is giving the chance to advance and progress at her pace with materials with which she is dealing, then the school may be suitable at this time.  In addition, changing schools at the midst of the school term may not be adequate and may not be necessary provided that your kid is actually learning.  

It seems that you want to challenge your daughter to learn more than the usual teaching and the normal homework assignments that are set for all students regardless of their capabilities of learning. Thus, I urge you to ask the main class teacher to give your daughter more learning materials for advancement upon finishing her daily class work. Challenging students is actually the best way of learning

Hence, instead of rushing to change your kid's school at this time, as I mentioned earlier I suggest that you take your time to compare any school from, at least, the following important characteristics of learning before making any decision:

·   The teachers’ competency and knowledge of the subject matter (attend some of the classes to be able to compare)
·   The ratio of student teacher per class
·   The design of the text books offered and the extent of their updated learning materials
·   Curriculum depth and design
·   Method of teaching
·   Students learning in class
·   Student-teacher relationship in class
·   Classroom environment
·   Students learning outcome in comparison of same materials given by other schools.
·   Test scores especially in all the three R’s (Reading –Writing- Arithmetic)
·   Equipment, tools, labs of the school, and the extend of their usage by the students
·   Facilities: by paying attention to the environment, location, the heath factor, and safety.
·   And many more….  

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Dr. Widad Ashurax

Expertise

I can answer questions pertaining to the following areas: Teaching methods, evaluation of teachers, teachers` moral, curriculum design and market research, students` attrition and completion rate, students` counseling and career planning in Post Secondary Education.

Experience

I was a President of private two-year school of business for over ten years, Vice president for three years, and a director of education for two years for a two-year college. Additionally, I have over twenty years of teaching experience in high school and post secondary education combined.



Organizations
retired

Education/Credentials
Doctorate degree in Education from Nova University
Master degree in Early Childhood from Nova University

Awards and Honors
School evaluator for the Accrediting Council of Independent Colleges & schools in Washington DC.

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