One of the first things many parents look at is the reputation of the school and what’s being said about it in the community. While those perspectives have some value, it’s important also to consider how much the person you are talking to really knows about the school as well as how current the information is. Reputation can lag reality by years. Over a period of three years, for example, the Academy of Dover’s classification by the Department of Education went from being “under improvement” to “superior.”
Parents should look at the teachers’ qualifications as well as their enthusiasm for the job. Are they passionate about what they do? Do they love children and love learning? Also look at the average length of service.
“Having a low teacher turnover is a really good sign,” says Janet Leishman, early childhood administrator at St. David’s Episcopal Day School in Wilmington. “Teaching is not a high-paying field, and if the turnover is low, it shows that teachers are satisfied with the environment and that they are committed to their jobs.”
It’s important, too, to find out about class sizes and student-teacher ratios. Johnson points out that the limits on class sizes in Delaware public schools is an unfunded mandate and says that it’s easy for a school to get a waiver to exceed those limits.