Choosing the 
Right School 3

Four Components to Consider 
in the Decision-Making Process

We are so fortunate to live in a district where we have so many educational programs to choose from for our children. However fortunate we are, there’s no denying that so many programs can cause our heads to spin.

As a parent of three grown boys, a home-school mom, charter school founder and now the CEO of Step to Success Community Learning Center, I’d like to offer some suggestions that may help make this process a little easier for you.

Before you get started in choosing a school, apply these four components to your decision- making process:

1. School philosophy: Is it traditional, progressive or other? What curriculum does the school use?

2. School achievement record: Schools are required to publish their school-wide test data and performance scores.  Information can be found on the Colorado Department of Education website.

3. Safety and location: Information on a school’s safety record can also be found on the state Department of Education website and through the local police department.

Also consider the school’s location and whether that is important. Do you want to stay in your neighborhood? Is there busing? Will you need to drive your kids to and from school?

4. Family cohesiveness: Will the program work for all family members and the family budget? Is the school calendar traditional or not? Can all of your kids enroll? Is there a wait list?

By applying these four components to your selection process, you will be able to come to a decision that is not only best for your child but will ensure educational stability, which is important for student achievement. I know from personal experience, kids do not like to move from school to school as it puts too much strain on their social experience.

You will find that all schools, even though they are supposed to be created equal, are not. By doing your homework, you’ll find out which one is right for you.

After your initial investigation, visit the school. Some schools require an appointment so you might want to call ahead and check. I also recommend visiting the classrooms. It’s a red flag if a school won’t let you observe a classroom. A welcoming and transparent school policy is a real plus in my book.

You may not be aware of all the school choices you have available to you. From magnet schools, neighborhood schools, charter schools, specialized schools such as STEM, to classical schools and even online schools, there are multiple options.

By visiting the Colorado Department of Education and Douglas County School District websites, you’ll find the different choices that are available in the Parker area.

One last consideration. What does your child think? Have a family meeting to discuss these options. Buy-in from your child will help ensure a positive school experience.

So if you’re thinking of making a change or if this is your first experience in choosing a school, take the time now to explore your options so you won’t need to make changes in the future.

Diane Kulback is an educational specialist, the founder of two Parker charter schools and the CEO of the Parker Step to Success Community Learning Center. She may be reached at