A Parent’s Guide to Private & Boarding School Entrance Exams

Updated July 16, 2018 |
A Parent’s Guide to Private & Boarding School Entrance Exams
As you’ve been doing your boarding school research, you’ve likely seen ISEE/SSAT score submission requirements for your target schools, and understand how important scores are to the admissions process. Unfortunately, tremendous candidates can get bypassed because they were not able to demonstrate what they knew on test day.

There are many reasons why a private, independent, or boarding school could be the best option for your student. They typically offer thrilling academic challenges, extensive STEM or arts programs, or other remarkable resources. Their student-teacher ratios are excellent, and faculty may have advanced academic degrees and strong professional reputations. While only about 10 percent of students attend private schools nationwide, private school admissions is selective and competitive.

To help distinguish applicants, private schools use standardized testing. The admissions process, especially for those migrating from public to private, can be an eye-opening experience. The Independent School Entrance Exam (ISEE) and Secondary School Admissions Exam (SSAT) are the most commonly used admissions tests for private, independent, and boarding schools. The High School Placement Test (HSPT) is often used by Catholic schools for entrance into grade 9.

The ISEE and SSAT are long multiple-choice tests lasting 2-3 hours and potentially covering above-grade-level content. For the 4th grader applying to private middle school, this might the first time they have undergone two hours of solid testing with only one or two short breaks. The best starting point is always to have your student take a full-length diagnostic test. It’s important to know where your child is starting from so that you can help them get to where they need to be.

ISEE & SSAT Similarities and Differences

Start by looking at the websites of your target schools or giving the admissions offices a quick call to

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Updated June 26, 2018 |
School Choice in 2018
Many people thought vouchers would never amount to much. Not only have they amounted to a great deal more than anybody could have thought, but vouchers have encouraged several more education choices to flourish.

School choice has been a fact in American K-12 education since 1989. That year the State of Wisconsin passed a voucher program which aimed to help students from low-income families in Milwaukee. Since then 39 states have established school choice programs.  Depending on the state, school choice programs have expanded to include educational savings accounts, tax credit scholarships, and individual tax credit/deduction which parents can use to send their children to a private school. 

Most states also allow parents to transfer their children from underperforming public schools to higher-performing public schools. In addition, many states have permitted the establishment of charter schools as one more alternative to an underperforming public school.  Because allocating taxpayer funding to educational resources other than public schools is controversial, numerous legal challenges have been filed. Depending on the state, you will see a variety of workarounds including the afore-mentioned educational savings accounts, tax credit scholarships, and individual tax credits/deductions.

According to the American Federation for Children, the following states now have some form of funding for school choice program. In fact, several states offer several educational choice options.  For the latest information https://www.federationforchildren.org/

Other resources include Noodle which has assembled a useful guide to the various educational choice options on a regional and state basis. 

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Updated July 04, 2018 |
Single-Sex Education: An Overview
Sending your child to a single-sex school is one of several options you have when it comes to private schools.
When you think of single-sex education as a choice or an option when you are thinking about sending your child to private school, the subject becomes a little easier to understand in the 21st century. Historically private schools have offered single-sex education for decades. Indeed many of our older K-12 schools were founded with the purpose of educating boys or girls separately. That's the way things were done back in the 18th and 19th centuries. Colleges and universities were also set up as single-sex institutions. For example, Harvard University was an all-male university until 1977 when its sister college, Radcliffe, merged with it.
 
Characteristics of single-sex schools
 
How do we define a single-sex school? By definition, a single-sex school is a school which educates boys or girls exclusively. As a general rule classes will not be co-educational. On occasion, neighboring boys and girls schools which have an established relationship will host co-educational classes. 
 
What grades do single-sex schools offer? Typically single-sex schools are high schools offering grades 9 through 12 and a Post Graduate year where available. A handful of single-sex schools offer the middle school grades 6 through 9. Even fewer schools offer PK-12. You will also notice that middle school grades go up to grade 9 and high school begins with grade 9 as well. Actually, grade 10 is probably the most common entry point for private high schools. That’s one reason for the overlap of the grades. 

In the following video the students of Marlborough School, Los Angeles, describe why they like their school so much and show us some of the activities.

There are several
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Updated July 04, 2018 |
How To Find A Summer Program
Sending your children to a summer program or camp keeps them active in fun-filled settings. We explore your options.

When you plan your children's summer, you are giving yourself two gifts. The first is engaged, active, happy children. The second gift is the comfort of knowing that you are expanding their knowledge in an informal, supervised learning situation. 

When I was growing up, my parents decamped every summer from Montreal to the shores of Lac Saint Louis about 30 miles west of the city. They rented a cottage across the road from the lake. We took swimming and sailing lessons at the Woodlands Yacht Club, helped with the large garden which provided vegetables and flowers during the short Canadian summer. It was idyllic and safe. The routine was pleasant and predictable. My parents were not rich. In the 1950s a lower-middle-class family of seven could make summers like the ones I have described above happen for a very low cost. Fast forward to the 21st century, that's essentially what the summer camps and summer schools which have sprung up over the past forty years do, namely, to provide an activity-filled day in a safe, well-supervised environment. 

The most important caveat when it comes to selecting a summer program is to make certain that you understand all aspects of what is involved. Know everything about the quality of the activities, the supervision, snacks and meals, and all the other details. Assume nothing. Most schools and churches which run summer camps will be happy to answer your questions. 

Now let's look at some of the options available to you at various

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Updated April 19, 2018 |
5 Facts about Montessori, Waldorf & Reggio Emilia Schools
We take a detailed look at the three popular early childhood methods to help you determine which one best suits your needs and requirements.

Montessori, Waldorf, and Reggio Emilia -inspired schools are three highly-regarded early education methods. Here are five facts about each method together with links and videos to additional materials which I have selected to enhance your research. Choosing the right school for your child is a process. Follow all the steps in that process and you will be rewarded with a good result. Cutting corners or waiting until the last minute will stress you out and not produce the intended results.

Five Facts about Montessori

Montessori is the name of a very popular approach for teaching preschool and primary age children. We'll explore the reasons for its popularity later. First, let's examine how Montessori got its start. As with many great movements, Montessori began with an idea and some theories put forth by one of those remarkable visionaries who dot the pages of history.

Photo of Dr. Maria Montessori: Wikipedia.orgDr. Maria Montessori (1870-1952) was born and raised in Italy. She came from a family of modest means. Her father did not approve of his daughter's desire to be educated much less to become a doctor. Women didn't do such things back at the end of the 19th century. Despite the many obstacles which stood in her way Maria earned her degree from the University of Rome in 1896. Her specialty was pediatric medicine. 

While Dr. Montessori was working towards her degree, she had studied and worked with mentally disabled children. She

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As you’ve been doing your boarding school research, you’ve likely seen ISEE/SSAT score submission requirements for your target schools, and understand how important scores are to the admissions process. Unfortunately, tremendous candidates can get bypassed because they were not able to demonstrate what they knew on test day.
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