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 |
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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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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EVALUATING SCHOOLS