American private high schools generally prepare their graduates for college level academic studies. Because they are private or independent, as opposed to state schools, they can set their own curricula and the qualifications of their faculty. Consequently you will find a wide range of standards and achievement within the private school community. Fortunately for parents and other interested parties, most schools are very proud of where their graduates have been accepted. If a list is not available in the school's catalog or on its Web site, ask the admissions staff for a list of universities and colleges where their last class was accepted.
Find out if a school has been accredited by a recognized regional or national accrediting body. This is usually a solid indication that a school meets certain minimum standards as the accreditation process is rigorous and covers all aspects of the school’s operations, not just academics. Accreditation must be renewed, typically every five years.
The five accrediting organizations are:
Advanced Placement Courses and the International Baccalaureate
Schools which are serious about preparing their students for college level work will offer AP or Advanced Placement
courses or participate in the IB or International Baccalaureate
program. Schools which offer either of these programs must have highly qualified, well-trained and experienced faculty to achieve good results. When you evaluate a school review the number of faculty who hold advanced degrees in their subject. Don’t be fooled by advanced degrees. If the degree is for something other than the subject being taught, it is not relevant. For example, a French teacher with a masters in instructional technology does not have as impressive credentials as a French teacher with a masters in French language and literature from Harvard.
Schools which offer AP and IB coursework have invested heavily in their physical plant. Classrooms are generally well-equipped with state of the art educational technology including high speed Internet access. Science laboratories, arts facilities and libraries often rival those found at many colleges and universities. Because parents have made such a serious financial commitment in choosing a private school education for their children, they demand and expect only the best. Generally they get it in the American private school market.