What Makes for a Great School?

As president of National School Choice Week, an effort to raise awareness among parents about K-12 education options, I am frequently asked what makes a school a great one. 

The answer? It depends! That reality is something you’ll hear celebrated by teachers, school leaders, parents, students, and community leaders at the 51,300 events and activities taking place Jan. 26-Feb 1. 

Great learning environments elude easy definitions. They come in all different shapes—traditional public schools, public magnet schools, public charter schools, private schools, online academies, and homeschooling programs. But perhaps this is the best definition: A great school is one in which students are academically challenged, equipped to be a good citizen and person, and inspired to greatness. 

Because children are different, you can best find a great school for your child when you have diverse options to consider.

That could mean open enrollment in a public school outside of your “zone” so your child stays connected with an important peer group. It could mean a charter school focusing on classical education, or a magnet school that lets students shadow medical professionals. Maybe it’s learning at an accelerated pace at home, or through online coursework, or in a private school that shares your values. 

Parents need to decide whether a school is good or great, based on their children’s needs and interests. What might be a great learning environment for one child might not be a good fit for another. That’s one of the core principles of National School Choice Week, and it’s something I highlight in my new book, The School Choice Roadmap: 7 Steps to Finding the Right School for Your Child.

This National School Choice Week, I encourage all families to explore their education options. You can start, and discover the choices available in your state, at schoolchoiceweek.com/mystate/.

Andrew Campanella is president of National School Choice Week and the author of The School Choice Roadmap: 7 Steps to Finding the Right School for Your Child.