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My oldest child been a high-ability learner since he was under a year old. Now he is in first grade and testing in the top 98 percent of the state in math and reading. My husband grew up on a farm, and we have the opportunity to move close to family and build our dream home on over 50 acres of land. In many ways I know this will have a positive impact on my children, as they can help grandparents with farm chores and be close to cousins, and I truly believe nature is a nature stress reliever for my intelligent and anxious child.
The concern I have—and can’t seem to get a clear answer on the potential impact of—is the small-town public school. The school ratings show the students testing and performing below grade level, and I am concerned about the impact on my gifted student’s experience and education. I reached out to the school and they are working on making improvements, but there is no offering for gifted students or AP programs in high school. We tried private school for kindergarten, but the environment was too restrictive, and my child is also showing gender tendencies that may not be accepted in a religious school. In fact, I’m worried they may not be accepted in this small-town school either, for that matter. How important is school for a student’s success, particularly if parents are very involved too?
—Farm Life Calls?
Dear Farm Life,
This is such a difficult question for me to answer. As a teacher, of course I believe school is important! Conventional wisdom dictates that a quality education is paramount to adult success. Yet there are those who argue that socioeconomic status is actually more predictive of adult success than school ratings. (I should add that I am skeptical of school ratings in general; I believe they paint an incomplete picture.) I am honestly not qualified to parse out the competing data and give you a definitive answer.