Since schools are strictly assigned to attendance zones, the first priority is to pick the area where you want to move based on your place of work and distance willing to travel and which school districts are located in the surrounding area. Of course you also want to consider the overall impression of the area – see the section ‘Areas to live in’ for more information. Some people enjoy a family-focused and open area within a suburb or master-planned community with a small town feeling while others prefer living in a neighborhood inside the Loop with close distances to dining, entertainment and a downtown feeling. Other families enjoy the trees of northwest Houston from north of Katy to The Woodlands. With so many school districts within the Houston area, you will have to educate yourself about which schools are better than others as well and calculate that into your decision.
One way to start looking for a school district is to check for a good rating. Districts are evaluated by the Texas Education Agency based on their TAKS scores, annual drop-out rate and completion rate. You can find reports at the website of the Texas Education Agency at http://www.tea.state.tx.us.
Another good resource is http://www.publicschoolsreport.com/ which shows all schools by county and district and allows for you to compare several schools you have in mind. Each school lists demographics (students by race), number of students, migrant students and even how many students are eligible for free lunch.
Since there are master-planned communities being built in the suburbs of Houston on a regular basis, new campuses are opened and are very attractive to parents and students. It can be a hard choice to pick between campuses within a district.
Once you know which areas in which you are interested, look at the school districts’ websites and with your real estate agent, co-workers and friends. There are differences between schools in the larger districts and word-of-mouth references are often the best recommendations.
Last but not least, schedule a visit with the administrator at the schools you are considering, tour the campus and get a personal impression. Discuss extracurricular activities, language programs, student-teacher ratio and your child’s particular strengths (athletics, academic, arts, etc.) to make sure you find a school that will fit your child’s needs.