Sunday, September 30, 2007

picking schools -- how do parents decide?

We are thinking of mainstreaming our child for high school. Currently, he is in a very good private school for bright kids with moderate to severe learning disabilities. He has made phenomenal progress since he began at the school. But.

The school is very successful at placing kids in college. Our concern is that our son will be totally unprepared for the transition, and while he might get in, he won't succeed there. I also am feeling like he is not being challenged academically where he is. And some opportunities are just non-existent or limited. The school has 130 students in grades 1-12. They offer just two computer courses (tech 1 and advanced tech), our son's biggest interest. They can offer very little in the way of clubs, sports, electives. And socially, his entire grade is about 30 kids, most of whom he has known since 4th grade. This means he has very close friends, and knows everyone, but it also limits meeting new people, moving from one social group to another, experimenting with who and what you are (like being from a really small town).

On the other hand,he is thriving where he is. And his learning disabilities are still there. He reads at a 12th grade level, but writes at about a 3rd/4th grade level. His vocab tests out as post-graduate, but his spelling is in the 2nd grade range. In math and science, he is about where an average 8th grader is... He still has motor skill issues, goes to occupational and speech language therapy once a week for intensive services.

So how do we decide what to do? We are at a break point, as far as deciding. If he is going to another school, we must apply by December 1 of this year, or not at all. The schools have openings for 9th grade, but waiting lists for grades 10, and no admissions for 11th and 12th. We would have to go through the testing process, the shadow days, everything by the end of November.

Its a huge decision, one that can affect the next 4 years, and potentially his whole life. How the hell do we decide? What's best? What if we are wrong?


Kitten Herder said...

That's a very tough call. I wish I had answers.

If his school has been successful at getting their students into college, does it have information on the outcomes of those placements? How does M feel about the possibility of changing schools? What kind of social and academic enrichment opportunities have you looked at if staying where he is seems best for him? Do some of the alternative schools you are considering have programs to help him in his weak areas?

I'm sure that you've gone through all this, I'm just curious what you found on those fronts.

changejunkie said...

We decided to have him take the ISEE (Independent School Entrance Exam) and see how he does. If he does very poorly, he stays where he is. If he does very well, we will probably move him, or at least try to. If he scores in the average range, who knows? Maybe we will cut cards or flip a coin....At least we will have an unbiased evaluation to weigh into the mix. The tests are Oct 27th and we should have results by the 30th.