Q:

My husband's company just informed us that we will be transferring to another state in the spring. I feel we are lucky, because our two children have not started school yet. How will we know if we are buying a house in a good school district? - Moving

A:

Go online to the State Department of Education Web site for the new state where you will be living, or call the department. Every state now has some system for rating schools; some provide more information than others. You want to find school districts in which classes are small, standardized test scores are high, and teachers are appropriately licensed.

The No Child Left Behind - Blue Ribbon Schools Program will identify for you the outstanding public and private schools across the country as well as those that have made dramatic gains in achievement. These schools have undergone an extremely thorough inspection of their staff, facilities and programs by experienced educators. Of course, there are many excellent schools that have not received this honor, and schools less than five years old are not eligible to apply for this recognition. You can go online to find a list of these schools at www.ed.gov/programs/nclbbrs/awards.html.

You should never base a decision on a school just on statistics and reports. You must make an on-site visit to the school to see if the educational climate seems right for your children.