Evaluating Schools

Here you will find resources and tools to aid in your search and evaluation of private schools. Explore the ranking system and read what schools have to say about it. Learn more about the most important questions to ask and how an education consultant can get answers. Use our checklists to help compare school administration, curriculum and more.
View the most popular articles in Evaluating Schools:
Updated May 26, 2016 |
Before You Spend $30k on Private School...
Before you spend $30,000 or more on a year at private school for your child, you need to ask five questions and be guided by the answers you receive.

As I have often said on these pages, finding the right private school for your child is a process, and a daunting process at that. There are a great many factors to consider. So, before you spend $30,000 or more on a year at private school for your child, you need to ask five questions and be guided by the answers you receive:

1.  Does it get the results you want?
2.  Does what the school teaches jibe with your requirements?
3.  Will your child be happy there?
4.  Is the school financially stable?
5.  How will you pay for it?

There is a bit more to the process, of course, but asking these five questions will get you started on the extensive due diligence which you must do before you spend approximately $150,000 for four years of private day school or approximately $200,000 for four years of boarding school. Tuition varies from school to school. Some are much less. Some a great deal more. Also we are only discussing high school and middle school. The primary grades will run you $8,000 - $15,000 depending on the school.

Another point to consider is that private schools in the United States are not subsidized by government funding. So they will charge whatever the market forces and their budgets determine can be charged and needs to be charged. Having said that, be aware that most private schools offer generous financial aid program. Some schools will even pay for everything as long as

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Updated May 26, 2016 |
What Do Schools Say About Ranking?
Ranks really don't matter. I have said that for years. But let's see what private schools have to say about the matter.

Over the years I have steadfastly maintained that ranks are not important when it comes to choosing the right school for your child. My viewpoint, however, runs counter to what most parents hear and see in the popular media which loves to crow about this top school or that elite school in video clips which usually have more to do with a scandal or tragedy of some sort than they do with the mission of the school and its academics. Amid all the sensationalism comes the subliminal message that 'this is a great school". Then there are various sites which purport to rank private K-12 schools.

Where ranking private K-12 schools comes unglued is the fact that each private school is unique. They are all different. They each approach their educational missions from their own unique perspectives. Yes, in a general sense they have a common mission which is to educate your child. However, because each school has its own approach, its own facilities and programs, they cannot be compared apples to apples. I used to be a real estate broker back in the 80s. I often fall back on that experience of finding the right house for my clients when it comes to advising parents on the right school for their children. The analogy is apt. For example, the couple who want a 3 bedroom house on 3 acres of land will find dozens of listings for them to look at. Are they all the

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Updated May 26, 2016 |
5 Reasons Why You Might Change Schools
Here are five reasons why you might want to change schools.

The scenario which we are going to discuss is not as uncommon as you might think. After all you have spent a considerable amount of time researching and visiting schools in a serious effort to find the school with the best fit. But a few months after school has begun you realize that something isn't right. Your child is miserable. Well, that's just one of the several reasons why you might want to change schools. Let's look at some other reasons.

1. Your child has been expelled.

Ouch! We will discuss this unfortunate reason for finding a new school first. This reason for changing schools is rather like being fired. It is enormously dispiriting and in many ways a life-changing experience just like losing your job is. Continuing that analogy, finding a new school for a child who has been expelled is almost as difficult as finding a new job is. The following video describes what happens when your child is expelled from public school. Private school expulsions are covered by the contract which you and the school signed.The net result is the same and is a very serious situation.

You can expect to have lots of questions asked. So, have your answers well thought out. Do not equivocate. Try not to put too positive a spin on the situation. An admissions staffer will see right through that. Answer the questions truthfully. The school will want to know if your child has learned

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Updated May 26, 2016 |
5 Questions You Need To Ask
As you begin to evaluate schools, keep these five basic questions in mind.
While you are in the early stages of identifying private high schools for your child, you will read plenty of catalogs and scan dozens of school web sites. You will uncover a lot of information. Just be aware that all of this is the information which the schools want you to see. These are marketing tools which present the best side to the schools and their programs. While there is certainly nothing wrong with putting your best foot forward, the reality is that you need to lift the hood and see what's inside. Find answers to the following five basic questions as part of your due diligence as you sort through schools and begin to determine which one is the best fit for your child.

Get the answers to your questions two ways: by reading the materials offered and by asking in person. Incidentally, if you have decided to use the services of an educational consultant, these are questions which she can answer for you. Then all you have to do is follow up when you visit the schools and affirm what you already know.

1. What are they teaching?

For most parents this is the first question on the list. It is our priority #1. It plays to our concern about what kind of college or university our child will ultimately attend. Preparing for that next step is a huge undertaking and we know that we have to get it right. Preparing for college level
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Updated May 26, 2016 |
How Do They Teach?
Part of evaluating the schools on your short list is examining how the teaching is done.
"How do they teach?" is a question which you need to ask as you evaluate schools on your short list. This question has been on your mind ever since you began considering sending your child to private school. While it certainly is relevant at almost any stage of the school selection process, it becomes critically important now that you are circling around those final few schools on your list. Be sure to have the question answered. You can do this by asking the admissions staff how the teaching is done at their school. They are accustomed to answering the question and will provide a detailed explanation for you. Furthermore I do recommend that you ask the identical question at each school you visit. Then you will be able to compare apples to apples, having asked the same question at each school.
Whether you are looking at your options for preschool, primary school, middle school or high school, how the teachers teach is just as important as what they teach. As you review each school's curriculum, familiarize yourself with how that curriculum is taught. Make sure that everything matches your requirements and expectations.
Laying the Groundwork for an Education
Let's look at three areas of concern which we as parents have faced outside the classroom as we raised our children. From infancy we have had control of what we taught. We have shaped our child's thinking up to the point where she went off to preschool and kindergarten. In school everything changes once
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