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 |
Is It Worth Using a Consultant?
Here are the reasons why using the services of a professional educational consultant is worth it.

Most of us parents are fairly adept at tackling the various projects which life seems to put in front of us. Whether finding an apartment or purchasing a home or dealing with medical issues or writing a will, we all do our research, sift through the various options and make our choice. That's a pretty standard modus operandi, right? Well, obviously I have simplified things a bit because I left out the consultation we all had with experts in just about every case. The doctors explained the choices we had for the medical issues and prescribed a course of treatment. Our trusted attorney reviewed the lease agreements and purchase agreements for our real estate transactions so that we didn't run into problems in the months and years ahead. We just used those experts as a matter of course. This video is a bit dramatic but it makes my point: you need expert help choosing a private school just as you need expert help for other major decisions.

But we don't need any experts to help us choose the right private school for our child, do we? We can do all this ourselves, right? Wrong! I know because we thought we could choose the right school for our very talented eldest daughter who had the perfect academic transcripts, the sports and the extracurricular activities. This would be a cake walk. Just visit a couple of schools, apply and that was all there was to it. Our mistake

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Updated May 26, 2016 |
5 Features Every Private High School Should Have
These features are the main reasons why you are considering sending your child to private high school.

When you start thinking about sending your child to private school, you will spend a lot of time reviewing school websites. As you do that, bear in mind that you see what the schools want you to see. Think of the private school website as its front door and entrance hall, and you will get the idea. Once you get to the next stage of the school search process, look for the following five features which every good private school should have. Doing your due diligence will take a lot of your time but is necessary to confirm that schools on your short list meet your needs and requirements.

Small Classes

Small classes are at the top of the list of features which every private school should have. If the private high school which you are looking at doesn't have small classes, what is the point of taking your child out of public school? Obviously, the adjective small can be interpreted in different ways. Typically a class size of 12-15 students will allow students plenty of interaction with their teacher. That interaction is a critical part of learning and is one of the features which you must look for when you consider sending your child to a private high school.

Small classes mean that your child won't just be a number.  She cannot fall through the cracks. She will not be able to hide in a small class. Some teens prefer to sit on the

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Updated July 01, 2016 |
Checklist for Comparing Schools - Curriculum and Instruction
What's being taught and how it is being taught are important parts of your checklist for comparing schools on your short list.

This step in your school search process comes after you have narrowed down the list of schools which you are looking at. When you begin comparing schools on your short list, review what is being taught and how it is being taught. Instruction goes to the heart of what private schools are really all about. That is the main reason private schools exist. This is why we send our children to private school. We want certain subjects taught. More importantly, we want them taught in a certain way. 

What we want our children taught generally exceeds any minimum requirements. The state department of department will require every school under its jurisdiction to meet certain minimum requirements. That is a given.  For example, a high school student must receive a certain number of credits in English and mathematics in order to graduate. Private schools typically outpace any minimums specified by the state department of education.

Against this backdrop, take time to review the courses which are offered in the schools on your short list. Do these courses match your objectives and requirements? Do they offer the depth and intensity which you want your child to have? For example, Shakespeare is taught in many public high school English courses. Typically one play will be covered in an academic year. By contrast a private school English class will read two or three Shakespeare plays in a year. Because private school classes are small and the students focused on their academic work, much more can

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Updated May 26, 2016 |
Checklist for Comparing Schools: Administration and Faculty
Here are some of the questions to ask and things to look for when comparing schools' administration and faculty.
When you begin comparing schools on your short list, it is important to at least be aware of certain important aspects of the school and its operation. While you can certainly tell whether a school is well-run just by visiting it and observing the condition of the grounds and facilities, it is worth asking a few detailed questions. The answers to these questions can be found online as a rule, so explore the school's website thoroughly before asking the admissions staff.
 
How long has the head of school/principal been in office?
 
This question speaks to the stability of the school. If the headmaster or headmistress (also called head and occasionally director) has been there for a couple of years, that's a good sign. Private school heads will stay forever if they are doing a good job and the trustees are satisfied with his job performance. Nowadays a private school head is the de facto CEO of the school. But his major responsibility is going to be in the area of fundraising. Public relations is another part of his brief.
 
If the door to the headmaster's office has become a revolving one with several heads coming and going over a period of a few years, you might want to find out why they didn't stay. Most private schools conduct national searches for a head of school and involve the school community in the process. So it would be unusual for a school to get the fit wrong.
 
Is there a strategic plan in place?
 
Granted,
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Updated May 25, 2016 |
5 Questions Your Consultant Can Ask and You Can't
Use an educational consultant to ask those tough questions you are not comfortable asking.

We parents are in a rather difficult position when it comes to finding out information about private schools. Because they are private schools, they are not subject to the usual sunshine or freedom of information laws. They are just like a privately-held company. They are under no legal obligation to tell you or the general public anything. You need to know exactly what is lurking behind those gorgeous web photos and enthusiastic classroom shots. You need to know the condition of the school from reliable sources. That's where hiring an educational consultant comes in. These professionals know their schools from the arts curriculum to the vintage of the Zamboni machine used on the hockey rink. This is information which you need in order to permit you to make the informed decisions you need to make about finding the right private school for your child.

One caveat, and it is a major one: there are educational consultants who claim to be able to get you into a school. Be careful. The sign of the genuine article is an educational consultant who will offer to help you find the best match for you and your child's requirements. Just be aware.

The following questions are ones you might want to ask but probably feel uncomfortable asking. That's why it's a good thing to  hire an educational consultant. She can ask such questions with relative impunity. Plus she will think of dozens of other questions and raise many other issues about

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Recent Articles
December 07, 2016
In addition to complying with all the usual admissions requirements, international students must also obtain a student visa. Here are five tips to help you navigate the admissions process.
November 30, 2016
SSAT and ISEE scores are one part of the total picture which most private school admissions staff review. These standardized tests reveal what you have learned in key mastery areas.
November 21, 2016
What is really important in choosing a private school? Ranks? Academics? Financial aid? Sports programs? Arts programs? One of these criteria doesn't matter. The others do.
Choosing a Private School

EVALUATING SCHOOLS