How to Choose an Elementary School in DC

  • July 2, 2012

by Shilpi Paul

How to Choose an Elementary School in DC: Figure 1
Oyster Bilingual Elementary School

In the past decade, DC has successfully attracted a steady stream of young professionals to fill apartments, condos and group houses around the city, and a recent op-ed got us thinking about what happens when this population grows up. As they start having children, housing decisions veer away from proximity to bars and become inextricably linked to schools.

We know that judging schools is famously difficult, with so many intangibles to consider. Even seemingly concrete measures like standardized test scores can sometimes be deceiving. Also, while children always have the option of going to their in-bounds public school in DC, parents can apply for spots in various other public and charter schools around the city, or choose to pay for a private school education. With so many options, starting the process can be daunting. Despite these complexities, there are a couple of resources that may help parents narrow down their focus as they try to choose an elementary school for their little ones.

While DC doesn’t have an online guide like New York City, which marries reviews with discussion forums and interviews with principals, teachers and parents, parents in DC may be able to find some aspects of this guide on the internet.

School Digger has a reasonable ranking system, which looks at test scores in addition to student/teacher ratios. Here is their determination of the top ten public elementary schools in the District.

How to Choose an Elementary School in DC: Figure 2
From the Great School’s DC School Chooser Guide

Great Schools is another service. In addition to school profiles and rankings, the organization also produces a DC School Chooser guide every year. The guide outlines very clearly how to apply for “out-of-bounds” public schools, special programs and charter schools. While the rankings are sometimes debatable, the guide may serve as a good starting point for parents on the hunt.

One place to debate those rankings are on various local forums. DCUrbanMom has an extensive discussion section about public and charter schools, though sifting through the threads may require patience. Neighborhood listservs can also be good resources. Essentially every neighborhood has one, and getting information and opinions straight from parents and residents about neighborhood schools can be quite valuable.

Other articles can also prove useful. A couple years ago, Steven Glazerman, an economist who studies education policy and co-founded Yu Ying Public Charter School, wrote a piece about school choice for Greater Greater Washington. The article and corresponding commentary have some gems of wisdom and interesting debate worth sifting through.

Readers, do you have any other tips for parents looking to find a good elementary school to send their children? If so, please share them in the comments section.

See other articles related to: schools

This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/how_to_choose_an_elementary_school_in_dc/5701

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