Just a decade ago most children attended a school based on their address - a home address had a direct relationship to a school address. In their local neighborhood schools some students flourished and went on to pursue the career of their dreams. Some students were happy to walk to school with the neighborhood kids but they got lost in the shuffle and struggled to learn. Other students may just get bumped along for the ride achieving mediocre results.
Today, things are different. Parents have many more options for their children due to the advent of magnet schools, charter schools and program choices within traditional public schools. Parents who make a choice about where their child attends helps their child succeed.
Studies show that parents who are proactive in choosing a school for their child, even when it is the neighborhood public school; are more satisfied with their children's school, they are more involved in their children's education and their children perform better in school.
Parents know their children best and finding the best educational quality and fit for their child and family can lead to great results. "Quality is like 'good nutrition': all the fruits, vegetables, whole grains and protein everyone needs. Fit is like choosing personal favorites from each healthy food group and picking your dessert" (2004, Choose your child's school with confidence, Hassel & Hassel). There are many resources for parents on choosing high quality schools in books and on the internet, advice from family and friends and personal research to look at school offerings.
Great School Quality Factors include:
- Clear mission that guides the school's activities
- High expectation for all students
- Monitoring progress at the student, class and school levels
- Focus on effective learning
- Strong home-school connection
- Safe and orderly environment
- Strong instructional leadership
Great Fit takes into consideration the needs of the child and the family and what the school has to offer. Four categories of considerations may help you decide:
- What your child will learn: based on your child's abilities and interests, the range of subjects and the possibilities for remediation or acceleration.
- How your child learns: how is she most successful? What are the teaching methods and opportunities? What is your child's learning style, motivation and challenges and how will these be addressed inside and outside the classroom.
- Social issues: does the child have friends at the school? Are the values of the school consistent or in conflict with home values? Is there an opportunity for parent and student engagement in the life of the school?
- Practical matters: are there extracurricular activities that are important for your child such as sports, art or music? Some of these can be compelling fit issues.
Idaho is fortunate to have 40 high quality charter schools as options for parents. Five of these charter schools are virtual schools available statewide. Unfortunately, there are not charter schools in every district but they have increase in number every year since the first charter was opened in 1999.
The current charter schools are listed here alphabetically and by region. We encourage parents to visit their websites, call the schools to ask questions and finally visit. Think about your student's and family's needs and hopes and call or visit with your questions. Charter schools are happy to share their offerings with you. Visit other areas of this website to learn about enrolling in a charter school. The Idaho Charter School Network is available to guide parents and support their choices.