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.
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.
How Diverse Are Private Schools? Decades ago private schools could have been accused of being elitist. You had to have money to attend. The student populations were fairly homogeneous. Fortunately that has changed.
Waldorf Schools Waldorf schools offer a well thought out approach to K-12 education.
Schools for Gifted Children Teaching gifted children requires deft handling. These children need intellectual and sensory stimulation. But they also need guidance and careful nurturing so that they grow up handling their special gifts and themselves appropriately.
Teaching Boys Why teach boys in a single sex setting? The answer to this question and several others here.
Special Needs Schools Do you think your son has a learning disability? Not sure what to do? A special needs school might be the way to go.
The Oldest Schools The oldest American private school is Collegiate School in Manhattan founded in 1628.
Progressive Schools Progressive schools have been around since the early 1900's. Some educators think that progressives are rebels against traditional rote learning. The progressive educators like to think of themselves as reformers. The truth is somewhere in the middle.
Lab Schools What is a lab school? It's a K-12 school or school with some variation of those grades which is operated by a university or college.
Military Schools Military schools offer structure and discipline as well as a top-notch education.
Why Waldorf? Vicki Larson provides detailed answers to my questions about Waldorf schools.
Hockey Schools Got an aspiring hockey player in your family? Many American private schools enjoy a great reputation for excellent hockey teams as well as superb academics.
Schools with Non-traditional Approaches Categorizing schools is not a neat process. But there are several educational approaches and philosophies offer some alternatives to traditional schools. Here are some pros and cons about alternative schools.
Classical Christian Schools Classical Christian schools combine strict adherence to Christian beliefs with classical principles of education.
5 Things Every Parent Should Do Every private school parent is encouraged to help the school in whatever way he can. Here are some things you can do to make a contribution to your school.
Private Schools Jargon and Terms Private schools have their own jargon just like any activity or affinity group has. Here are some of the more common terms you are likely to encounter as you explore private schools.
Seattle Area Schools The Seattle area is home to many fine private schools as well as to major companies such as Microsoft, Boeing and Starbucks.
Boston Area Schools The metropolitan Boston area offers a wide range of academic and cultural activities. Just as impressive is the area's selection of private schools.
Directories A list of directories of private and independent schools.
Guides To Private Schools Do you prefer to peruse a book rather than going online to find private schools? If so, there are some excellent guides to private schools available.
National Associations As you research schools, check the national and state associations. Is the school you are considering a member? If not, why not?
Regional Associations Some states do not have their own private school associations. Schools band together across state lines forming regional associations. These associations have the same purpose as state associations. More here.
State Associations Do the schools you are researching belong to state independent school associations? If not, find out why not!
Litchfield County Schools Litchfield County, Connecticut, is home to a couple of dozen excellent schools catering to just about every need. The setting about 90 miles north of New York City is convenient to one of the largest metropolitan areas in the world.